Now to the fun part, and the most challenging of all: how to pick a scent for a man as a gift? This is particularly tricky if you are trying to surprise him, and even more so - if you don't know him very well.
Despite my dislike for making generalizations about large sections of the population, I think it would be safe to say that the majority of men (with the rare exception of male perfumista) won’t readily admit they are interested in scents. It’s unlikely they will wear any fragrance, unless:
1) Their girlfriend (or any other significant female figure in their life) bought them a cologne for Christmas or another special occasion
2) They are deeply convinced that wearing a scent will attract a partner
Therefore, it becomes the women’s responsibility to educate and manipulate the men’s olfactory lives, be it by gifting them with fragrance, or openly commenting on how they happen to smell like.
My male clients are dear to me not only because they are so rare, but also because they have sensibilities about the olfactory world that are different than women’s. In my upcoming tea party I aim to educate my men to take their olfactory life into their own hands, and dare to wear what they like. But for the rest of my clients (admittedly, mostly ladies) – why won't you try to pick a scent that has the potential of captivating your man’s imagination and appealing to his own sensibilities. Men, even if they don’t admit it as readily as women, enjoy and appreciate scent very much, if they are only allowed to believe that it’s important and not overtly self-indulgent!
But how could you tell what they would like?
Part of it is intuition, and part of it is logic. People tend to be drawn to similar types of scents, aromas and flavours in real life, many of which can be found in natural perfumery!
The following tips will give you ideas about how you can gather information about a man’s olfactory preferences, without asking them too many questions. If you know the person for a long time, this might be easier. But if you don’t know him, a quick look around his home and taking notice of his favourite foods and which drinks he orders at the bar might provide you with just enough sufficient information.
When ordering food in the restaurant – does he tend to order spicy or aromatic foods, or is he simply a “meat and potato” kind of guy? If he likes spices, mostly likely he will also enjoy fragrance that incorporate them, e.g.: Spicy Orientals such as Opium, Habit Rouge or Épice Sauvage. If his palate does not seem as sophisticated, you may just want to go with a “safe” classic fragrance from the citrus or Fougère family, i.e.: Azzaro.
If he likes to drink gin and tonic, see how he likes a scent with juniper berries or citrus, such as Arsenal; or if he likes scotch, he probably will also appreciate Espionage’s peaty and full-bodied malty qualities, or enjoy something smoky, e.x. Bvlgari Black. And for the coffee lover – there are quite a few gourmand type fragrances with a pronounced coffee notes, such as Yohji Homme, Thierry Mugler's AMen Pure Coffee - or how about an exotic dermitasse of Finjan, a dark-roasted Turkish coffee scent?
And if you have a chance to spy on his house, see what you find in different rooms about scents and products he uses without raising suspicion.
In the kitchen:
What’s in his spice rack (if he’s got one)? What Herbs does he like to cook with? What kind food or drinks does he keep in his fridge? For example: if he likes herbs such as basil or oregano, it’s likely that he would also appreciate an aromatic Fougère that incorporates these notes, or a citrus with a sprinkle of herbs. If he likes fruity soft drinks, he might also enjoy a fragrance that has a hint of fruit or berries.
In the bathroom:
This is probably where he keeps all his grooming products, fragrance included (although I wouldn’t count on these to determine his personal taste! Like I said, these were probably chosen for him by a girlfriend in high school that thought it was very sexy, and now he’s just stuck with it for life, as well as all his future girlfriends, wives, daughters and granddaughters…). But it’s very likely that the choices he makes about innocent and less indulgent scented products such as shower gel, hand-soap, shampoo, soap bar etc. may give you a better insight into his true scent preferences.