Smoke gets in your eyes… scent gets up your…. The Perfumed Dandy’s Weekend Forum

Oh yes, mes petits choux fleurs we all know that no matter how much we adore the scented stuff there are, like people, certain perfumes that get right ups one’s figurative and in this case literal nose.

But what to do when such an offending aroma comes into one’s orbit not once but on an all too frequent basis…?

For we have suffered, have we not, at the hands of the perfume haters and seen the art form we love, if not destroyed, then sadly compromised and subject to the whims of IFRA and its armies?

And yet, and yet… there are freely available fragrances that have such a foul effect, I will admit they bring tears to my eyes.

So here is this weeks question…

What do you do if someone you must spend time with regularly wears a perfume that repulses you?

Not a loved one or a life partner, surely one should be able to tell them, but a colleague, or close-ish friend, a member of a club you belong to someone in your social circle.

Would you ever dream of telling another human being that, fragrance-wise, they stink?

I know, I know, it’s a toughie this week so I’m especially looking forward to all your sage advice!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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41 responses to “Smoke gets in your eyes… scent gets up your…. The Perfumed Dandy’s Weekend Forum

  1. Nena

    I haven’t had that problem as of yet, but I’d probably be too polite to say something about it anyway.

    • Dearest Nena
      I must confess upfront that being British through and through The Dandy would – has indeed – sat and stood in silence next to people wearing some quite atrocious aromas… I just wondered whether others elsewhere were perhaps a little more direct. After all certain cultures are known for it!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Nena

        A few years ago, I was testing perfumes in a department store in town, and a girl who looked a little younger than me sniffed a tester of the original Agent Provocateur and yelled “Ewww, it smells like a grandma!”, so I’m going to assume that Kiwis are brutally honest with their perfume opinions. But my family is English, so I’ve been brought up to be more polite.

      • Dearest Nena
        I must admit I had assumed that our antipodean friends would be more direct in this department.
        Of course I quite like most things described as ‘old lady’ by the rest of the world do this would have caused me to make a bee line for the provoking perfume!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Someone I once knew used to give me a lift very often and always wore Giorgio Beverley Hills. It was like a compression tank. There was no choice. I can never ever smell it without thinking of those long suffocating car journeys. However, it also reminds me of Dynasty as it was very in your face and very 1980s so I can’t quite totally hate it. But gosh, those memories are vivid.

    • Dearest Iscent
      Giorgio! Oh lordy, I think I would have gotten the bus, or indeed cattle truck if that;s all that was available, so not only to I admire your impeccable manners but also your staying power. I wonder… do you think this did you any lasting damage?
      But Dynasty!?!
      You know, we had a spider (not a pet) but a very large harmless house spider, that would appear magically upon hearing the cascading opening bars of that series’ opulent them, assume a position near the screen and then disappear again when Joan and Linda et al had done their worst.
      Perhaps it was an agent of Alexis’
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Dear Mr Dandy,

        I am utterly terrified of House Spiders. I can barely stand to even type the words.The sight of one makes me go weak and start crying. It is curious that you had one that liked Dynasty: but then not so much when you think she was probably female, probably just mated, and probably ate her husband’s head afterwards. Which makes me think Spidey was Team Alexis rather than Team Krystle.

        Your shuddering friend

      • Dearest Iscent
        Oh yes, all spiders are most definitely ‘friends of Alexis’!
        I see poodles as more Krystle, and sloths perhaps, oh and maybe Afghan hounds!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

      • SallyM

        Hilarious! “An agent of Alexis”!!! This comment was worthy of tea-spewing at my screen…

      • Dearest Sally
        I do hope no lasting damage was caused!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Dear Mr Dandy
    Actually, I’ve just remembered that I don’t much care for Chanel No 5 either as it is everywhere. Plus my Mum wore it for years. I’m reviewing the Eau Premiere soon, so more of that anon.

    Your friend

    • Dearest Iscent
      I had forgotten you don’t like No 5, though you do like First, for which I forgive you the former indiscretion *he winks*.
      Also I shall resist repeating my mothers line when I used to decry something for being everywhere… she would say ‘people are everywhere, do you dislike them too?’… oh I’ve just let it slip out.
      Anyway I shall await Eau Premiere with baited breathe, but did you ever tell your maman that you weren’t at home to her perfume?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. rosestrang

    It’s maybe a cultural thing and typically British – not being honest about someone’s perfume. A friend of mine wore Coco Mademoiselle, which was totally wrong for her as she was a unique, witty, creative and talented person, also naturally elegant. When I went to visit I suggested a perfume sniffing trip during which she really took to the Lutens range, so next time I went to stay I brought a sample of Luten’s Fleur d’Oranger and a little painting of an orange blossom. Sorted!
    But, evil as this sounds, if I don’t like someone and they’re wearing horrible perfume I tend to think – best left well alone! I worked with a woman who wore Chanel’s Coco too heavily. I like Coco but not when someone’s bathed in it in the height of summer and I have to share a small unventilated office space with them. I never said anything, I just tried to take oxygen in through my mouth, not nose!

    • Dearest Rose
      Of course being Blighty born and bred I too would probably flinch at actually telling anyone I detested their scent.
      However, I do think your solution ingenious.
      I’ve always thought of Serge Lutens as a sort of magical uncle of the perfume world who one could convey every woe to, so who better to take a person with woefully perfume taste too to be cured!?!
      Did she chose a signature?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • rosestrang

        True, the only person who’s bluntly honest about my perfumes is my Mum, I was wearing Sonoma Scent Studio’s Fireside Intense while we were in a quiet art gallery, and she exclaimed quite loudly ‘Oh! What IS that horrible scent?!’. It is a bit full-on but I find the scent of birch tar, TCP and creosote quite comforting!
        My friend absolutely loved the Fleurs d’Oranger but I’m not sure if she bought a full bottle. Anyway, she wore it for the duration of my stay with obvious appreciation so a convert I hope!
        Lutens – a magical uncle? I’d never have thought of that but I see what you mean – in his mysterious, velvet jacketed, intellectual way, yes.

        I hope you enjoyed a peaceful and restorative weekend Sir Dandy!

  5. Lilybelle

    I’m with Rosestrang: If it’s someone you like, suck it up and say nothing. If it’s someone you don’t like, stay away as much as possible. That’s a great idea, to take someone you like on a sniffing trip. I once gave a bottle of Cristalle to a woman I worked with in hopes of seducing her away from her awful fragrance, but she never wore it that I noticed. She just continued to drench herself in the same awful scent. My mother is another one who POURS it on (but at least her fragrances aren’t so awful). When we came back from visiting at Christmas the dog smelled of her perfume for days and had red lipstick on the top of her furry head. πŸ˜€

    • Dearest Lily
      Now who could resist Cristalle?
      Honestly, it really can;t be said that you didn’t go the extra mile in this instance…. and then she never wore it. To think of that lonely bottle pining away whilst some odious undeserving scent next door got all the attention!
      Now your mother is increasingly sounding like quite a character, I’m loving the idea of scent so strong it even perfumes the pooch by osmosis!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  6. There was a professor at my school who wore Flower by Kenzo. I don’t know, it’s this weird and moist rubbery, musky scent that I just can’t stand. I was used to sitting in the front and I couldn’t concentrate on anything she said during those lectures. She would walk up and down all the time, and every time she came back towards my seat I would hold my breath.

    I also had a classmate who used Coco Mademoiselle for a while, but I wasn’t afraid to be frank with her. It’s serious headache material and I let her know that – she was cool with it!

    In my circle of family and close friends I’m that girl who always gifts perfumes, so they feel obliged to wear whatever I give them : )

    • Dearest Ambrosia
      You make a very good point here… people who make poor perfume choice do often seem to be terribly mobile don’t they!?!
      It’s almost as thought they feel the need to spread their fragrant choices around without the faintest regard to others preferences.
      Now, I must confess that I am something of a perfume gifter… though all seem gratefully to receive, so in recent years I have increasingly come to be surrounded by a set of smells I know all too well!
      Sometimes it really is better to give than to receive!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  7. I once had an officemate who wore either those generic, trying-too-hard-to-be-masculine scents (was never interested to find out what they were because he had a matching obnoxious personality so even making small talk with him was not an option for me) or this muscle-relaxant spray that reeked of ginger. I often wondered if he was making a certain kind of chicken stew that uses a lot of ginger in his cubicle!

    • Dearest Elfin One
      Do you know I do believe that cheap masculine scent is the worst thing of all! Especially, as you so adeptly point out, because those kerosene fuelled perfumes come so often flacon in hand with equally high powered egos!
      The idea of a muscle relaxant fuelled chicked stew making co-worker though… my goodness that is quite an olfactory nightmare!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  8. Bee

    A few years ago I had to work very closely with person who doused them selves with Kenzo L’Elephant every day during a long hot summer. I tried suggesting that it might be better suited to winter but it was her ‘signature’ and she could not imagine changing it. For me It was suffocating and made me hate her! I was so glad when she moved on to another job. It put me off using the fragrance myself for a good couple of years and certainly taught me that less is more with certain fragrances.

    • Dearest Bee
      Hahaha. Now The Dandy has something of a soft spot for L’Elephant, but heaven’s above that fragrance should carry a health warning. It is one of the most powerful potions ever committed to perfumery!
      The idea that anyone should consider it appropriate office day wear in summer. Surely human resources should be involved in such cases!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  9. rickyrebarco

    If I knew the person well I would take them scent shopping or blather on about my perfume expertise and by them something nicer. Even if I hated them I would probably buy them something not expensive but nice smelling. It’s good to keep mean people off balance by being nice to them from time to time. It freaks them out!!
    If all else fails, the smell is killing you and all your co-workers, in the U.S. you could go to human resources, claim you all have allergies or something so the person will quit wearing the scent but the danger in that, of course, is that your company may enforce a no scent policy.
    In the alternative, you could just wear more perfume than them- lol. Fight fire with fire!!

    • Dearest Ricky
      This comment section has proved beyond all reasonable doubt what a thoroughly pleasant lot The Dandy’s friends are – for by far the most popular option has been to meet olfactory aggression with a gift!
      There is though, as you point out, and I was just mentioning above, *The Nuclear Option* reporting the poorly perfumed one to HR on the basis of an allergy. This though is a dangerous course…. imagine a workplace without any perfume.
      *The Dandy fans himself agitatedly!*
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  10. rickyrebarco

    should have been “buy” them. Spelling issues today.


    I’m not British, so I just tell people their scent pollutes the environment, waters my eyes, and knocks me out in 3-2-1… x_X

    You, dear Dandy, should be having a few garments printed with passive aggressive scent related phrases, that good old British-humour-way πŸ˜‰

  12. SallyM

    It *does* seem to be a British thing. I have no qualms at all about running shrieking from the room when the perfume of any family member causes my nostrils to involuntarily close up in horror, but anyone outside of that circle is saved by my British upbringing. Mind you, the older I get, the more I’m crossing over into the “tell it how it is and be damned” arena. Its funny, I have no qualms at all about making my feelings known about a smoker who lights up near me in public. I suppose its got something to do with the fact that one chooses a perfumes to (supposedly) make one smell good and so if you comment that you find it hideous, it’s a direct slight on that person’s choice. I think the idea of a T shirt with some sort of “Oi! How about cutting back to less than half a bottle?” slogan on it might work…

    • Dearest Sally
      I find the addition of ‘shrieking’ to this scene for some reason totally hilarious.
      I must agree though about the luxury of age. There was a more mature lady in Regent’s Park the other day and some very highly perfumed young girls went past (amber-vanilla-slight hint of chocolate, huge silage). Our grande dame remark… ‘For heaven’s sake you could smell her from the other side of the street’ to her walking companion, a somewhat dapper man. The perfume wearer turned and looked and seemed to realise that the comment was aimed at her, but I fear English was not her forte!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy


    P.S. BTW my office mate fell in love with Lalique Amethyst (I introduced her to the finest juices myself, knowing that she couldn’t resist a fine name and an elegant bottle – “Look, wouldn’t that suit you?”).
    What I meant to say: I’m not always downright ruuuuuude πŸ™‚

  14. Unless that somebody is very close to you (partner/spouse/sibling/parent/BFF) there is absolutely no good way of telling them that you hate their perfume. So shifting their interest onto something else is the only possible solution unless you’re willing to make a serious dent in the relationships or give up using perfumes yourself (because in the latter case you can go to HR department – or whatever it’s called in your neck of the woods – and complain).

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