The 17 Best Fall Perfumes, According to Experts and Editors

New season, new you.

Perfume bottles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The arrival of fall means more than simply donning warmer clothes and switching to a different color palette. It also means changing up your beauty look, from opting for a darker lip color to trying out a cozy fall perfume. These fragrances are often warmer and spicier than summer and spring fragrances, conjuring images of crunchy orange foliage and tasty cinnamon treats. 

"I wouldn't discourage any scent notes for fall, but I would say that some notes are more popular than others during this time of year," explains Will Brandt, a fragrance expert and cofounder of fragrance brand Brandt. "For example, fresh, citrusy notes are more likely to be worn in the spring and summer, while deep, spicy notes are more popular in the fall and winter."

While Brandt admits that any fragrance can be a fall fragrance (all that matters is that you like it!), there are a few factors to keep in mind for those who want to switch to a more quintessentially autumnal option. Below, the qualities to keep an eye out for while shopping for fall fragrances, along with the best options on the market now.

Classic Fall Scents

Guillaume Flavigny, a world-renowned perfumer who works with The Harmonist, agrees that while the world is your oyster when it comes to picking a fall perfume, there are still a few scent notes that carry especially strong autumn energy.

"I would recommend the intensity of oud and the richness of woody notes that bring this feeling of warmth and comfort that we usually look for when entering the fall season," he says. "I would also recommend gourmand notes that bring a playful facet to the back-to-school season."

Brandt agrees that "fall is the perfect time to indulge in your favorite gourmand notes." He adds, "Whether you want to smell like apple pie, a caramel latte, or a marshmallow, there's a fragrance out there for you. Gourmand scents are warm, cozy, and inviting, and they're the perfect way to welcome the cooler weather."

Understanding Fragrance Notes

When shopping for fragrances, it's easy to become overwhelmed, no matter the season. Not only are there thousands of choices on offer, but there's also a sle of fragrance terminology that might be unfamiliar to the uninitiated. Top notes, mid notes, and base notes, for instance, are terms that may be incomprehensible—especially if you're shopping online and can't smell the perfume yet in real life. 

"A fragrance is like a story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end," says Brandt. He explains, "The top notes are the introduction. They're what you smell first, and they're responsible for making a first impression." 

Meanwhile, he calls the mid notes "the heart of the fragrance," saying that  " they're what you smell for the most part, and they're what really make the fragrance unique." Flavigny adds that these middle notes "link the top and base notes." 

And what are base notes? 

"The base notes are the foundation of the fragrance," says Brandt. "They're what you smell last, and they're what give the fragrance its staying power." Flavigny calls the base notes "the trail of the scent," and says that for this reason, they're usually "musky or woody notes."

Brandt also shies away from hard-and-fast rules about how long top notes, mid notes, and base notes tend to last. "Each fragrance is different and will have a different longevity," he says. "That's true of all the notes: top, mid, and base."

For this reason, it's wise to consider customer reviews, ingredients, and scent longevity when searching for and ultimately buying your next go-to fragrance.

The Best Fall Fragrances

Meet the Experts

Guillaume Flavigny
Guillaume Flavigny

Born in France, Guillaume Flavigny is a world-renowned perfumer. He has studied both chemistry and perfumery, and has worked with the likes of Valentino, Commes des Garcons, and Balmain. 

Will Brandt
Will Brandt

Williamson Brandt is an attorney with a love for fragrance. After years of his wife sharing fragrance reviews on social media, he decided to create the world’s highest quality perfumes with an unmatched aesthetic - minimalistic, refined, modern and innovative. Brandt makes technically refined unisex perfume with purpose and is IFRA Certified, vegan, cruelty-free, and sustainably sourced.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, fashion, culture, and politics both at Marie Claire and for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.