My biggest beauty pet peeve? Smelling my own perfume on a stranger in the street. Nothing is more intimate than your smell, because it attaches itself to memories in a way no other sense can. Honestly, one sniff of your ex's signature scent at a bar can have you tipsy-texting them faster than you can say "toxic." In fact, I'd rather wear no perfume at all than spritz someone else's signature—it's too personal, like borrowing underwear.
That's why I, like the rest of my beauty editor friends, are constantly searching for scents that speak to our personalities; remain elusive enough that the chance of catching a stranger channeling our vibe on the subway platform is low, low, low; and make sense for the season. Here, our current roster.
Tatjana Freund, Beauty Assistant
Tom Ford Ombré Leather
"In the colder months, I feel like it's totally appropriate to swap out my sweeter, summer scents for something darker and sexier. And if you're looking for dark and sexy, you go to Tom Ford. This perfume blends moodier scents like cardamon, leather, and patchouli. From those notes, I was worried that this perfume would be too intense. On the contrary, it's strangely light, but retains those musky notes. I'm made my friends take a whiff of it, and even people who swear by floral scents are in love with it."
19-69 Invisible Post
"If I'm looking for a mood-lifter, I always reach for Invisible Post. The scent notes are fig, black currant, and cedarwood. But if you ask me, I think this perfume smells like a mojito and a margarita had a baby. There's something citrusy but woodsy about it, and it always lightens my mood. For super cold wintery days where everything feels bleak, I reach for this scent."
Byredo Tobacco Mandarin
"To me, there's nothing better than having a signature scent that gives you an air of mystery. Byredo is one of the most well-known perfume brands on the market, but Tobacco Mandarin is one of the lesser-known items in their repertoire. Unlike some tobacco-fragranced scents, this perfume doesn't make me smell like I just left a grimy bar. Rather, it comes off slightly spicy and subtle, and always elegant."
Chelsea Hall, Assistant Fashion and Beauty Editor
Jo Malone London Cypress & Grapevine Cologne Intense
"During the cooler months I tend to do away with the whimsical sweet florals in exchange for the more sensual and cozy scents. The fresh woodsy vibes of Jo Malone’s Cypress and Grapevine Cologne has been my latest obsession. It’s a unisex fragrance with enveloping notes of cypress, grapevine, moss, amber, and cedarwood. Just one spritz of this gem behind the ear and I immediately feel a sense of warmth."
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris Baccarat Rouge 540
"I wouldn’t necessarily categorize this as a fall/winter staple because I literally reach for this perfume year round. The beauty in this beloved fragrance is its versatility. With striking notes of jasmine, saffron, cedarwood, and ambergris Baccarat Rouge 540 sits at the perfect intersection of light and airy yet intense and musky. It’s pure elegance within a bottle and reigns supreme in my fragrance collection."
Ying Chu, Beauty and Health Director
Frédéric Malle En Passant Parfum
"If you’re looking for a warm/earthy/spicy winter scent, stop right here. This isn’t it. In fact, it really reads quite springlike—described as a whiff of lilac in the breeze, laced with notes of orange leaves, cucumber, and wheat. But scent has an incredible way of sparking your memories. And this was my first (of many) Frédéric Malle perfumes. I discovered it on a cold day in Paris, way back when I was a young editor seeking out Malle’s famed parfumerie. Once there, Malle himself personally helped me find my way to this white floral masterpiece—by asking a lot of questions and making me sniff many scents. I was pretty psyched to find that my choice was created by a female nose—the brilliant Olivia Jacobetti. I’ll continue wearing En Passant year-round as long as the brand continues to create it."
Taylore Glynn, Associate Beauty Editor at Marie Claire
Tom Ford Lavender Extreme
"I never thought my buddy Tom could top Tabacco Vanille, but I've never been happier to be mistaken. Lavender is my favorite smell on Earth, and this formula blends three types of the herb with bergamot and tonka bean for a heady, androgynous scent that clings to my neck well into the wee hours. It edges up any outfit I'm wearing—the olfactory equivalent of a leather jacket, if you will. And its seductive powers have been confirmed by perhaps the most attune focus group: The amount of Uber drivers who have turned down the music to ask me why I smell so good is staggering."
By Kilian Rolling in Love
"I've learned that like my fragrance just how I like my coffee: with healthy helping of almond milk because oat wasn't available. The nutty substitute adds an extra lick of creaminess to Kilian Hennessy's newest formula, which boasts seven different types of musk for that 'your skin, but sultrier' effect. Consider it 'fireside sex under a caribou blanket,' atomized."
19-69 Female Christ
"Clearly, this beauty team is stacked with 19-69 stans. As a former Catholic school girl, the perfume’s subversive name was irresistible to me, so I simply had to try it. When the chic amber juice showed up at my door, I spritzed myself with it, gave it a sniff, and uttered holy shit to absolutely nobody because I’ve never smelled anything like it: Cashmere wood, cinnamon, and vanilla provide a sizzling base, while eucalyptus and wintergreen add an unexpected blast of coolness over the top. The juxtaposition is like fire and ice, and it’s almost addictive. It's flat-out sexy, and I get questions about it every time I wear it. And for inquiring minds, I’ve been told that the scent sticks around on bedsheets for days after I’ve slept in them, so do with that what you will."
HERETIC Dirty Vanilla
"If you were to stand in front of my (overwhelming) fragrance collection and pluck any bottle at random, I’d bet you my hard-earned cash it’ll be a gourmand. I tend to gravitate towards the spicy, the warm, and the delectable when it comes to perfume. This new bad boy from natural fragrance brand Heretic is my current obsession: the raw vanilla that drives the scent is so pure that it’s almost salty, and it’s fucking delicious. It’s become my new evening perfume, and I usually start off the nights I wear it huffing it from my pressure points. You know that scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when they all start licking the snozzberry wallpaper? This scent brings me thisclose to going full Charlie Bucket on my own wrists."
Maya Allen, Digital Beauty Editor at Marie Claire
Maison Margiela Replica Whispers in the Library
"Let me tell you something: Asking a woman out on a date to the library is essentially a sext all smart women will appreciate. A day surrounded by books inspired this fragrance, and I can confirm this makes me feel like a hot librarian. The woody, warm notes of pepper, tonka bean, cedarwood, and vanilla will make colder months a bit more cozy. Spritzing on its subtle spice feels like a perfect pre-date ritual for a boost of confidence. Even though this scent is unisex, I refuse to share it with bae."
Hannah Baxter, Senior Beauty Editor at Coveteur
D.S. & Durga Notorious Oud
"When temperatures dip into single digits, I switch out my preferred woody floral fragrances for a warm, musky oud. The latest on my roster is Notorious Oud from D.S & Durga. It's vaguely spicy thanks to the saffron and camphor notes, yet perfectly balanced by the lavender and bulgar rose. Ouds can be a little overwhelming for some people, but if you're curious about them this guy is a great place to start—it's gentle enough for the uninitiated, but with enough bite for the veterans. Any scent that grows more delicious throughout the day (to the point that strangers will ask me what I'm wearing in the elevator) gets a hard yes from me."
Faith Xue, Editorial Director at Byrdie
Acqua di Parma Vaniglia
"When the weather gets bone-chillingly cold outside, I want my fragrance to make me feel as warm and cozy as my UNIQLO Heattech. I have a few perfumes I have on rotation during the winter months (like Margiela's By the Fireplace, Byredo Velvet Haze, Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin), but my new favorite is from Acqua di Parma and smells like a sweet, heady rush of Madagascar vanilla. Named Vaniglia, it's part of the brand's new Signatures of the Sun collection—10 potent fragrances, each centered around a single note—and makes other vanilla perfumes pale in comparison (or just seem too complicated, or saccharine sweet). The scent blends its star, vanilla, with notes of bergamot, mandarin, neroli, and jasmine sambac, rounding it out with base notes of cedarwood and musk. If you were to ask me to describe it in word, I'd say 'sunny.' Hence, why I'm spritzing it with abandon these days, hoping its powers will extend to the grey skies outside. Plus, there's the added bonus that every time I wear it, someone tells me how good I smell."
Lauren Valenti, Beauty Writer at Vogue
"Gamine is French-inspired and New York City-based (like me, always!) and tends to fly under the radar. Since it launched a couple of years ago, its namesake scent—a nod to founder Melanie Dir’s surf trips to France’s Reunion Island—has been my signature. It's an earthy, yet spicy unisex blend of Cote D'Azur cypress, vetiver root, chocolate noir, and wild Indonesian patchouli that lives its best life in the cooler months. Melanie encourages misting it in less obvious areas of the body that emit heat, like under the breasts, furthering the sexy French feel."
Margaux Anbouba, Associate Beauty Editor at Elle
"I was first drawn to Audacious by NARS because of the unusual packaging. It looks like some sort of objet d'art that you’d see at your coolest friend’s house and wonder, What’s that? The scent totally matches that vibe. It’s warm, mysterious, and just a little bit witchy—like you’re crushing tropical frangipani flowers for a love potion in a room swirling with incense. I love spraying it in my hair so I leave a faint trail of it when I walk through a room."