When asked what she wore in bed, Marilyn Monroe famously replied, “Why, Chanel No. 5 of course". This line epitomises the glamour, sensuality and sense of sheer indulgence that comes from wearing perfume.
The art of perfumery is an old one - but long gone are the days when pomades and scents were simply used to mask less savoury bodily smells. Creating a good perfume, that will stand the test of time, is a precise, exact science. Perfumes can capture every mood; from running through fields of flowers on a summers’ day, to the most opulent, decadent date imaginable. The ‘classics’ still worn today have evoked special moods or feelings for women (and men!) for decades. Creating ‘modern classics’ is an art form; a game which many attempt, but few succeed. At its heart, good perfumery is pure alchemy.
However, choosing a perfume can seem like a daunting task. Our noses can only ‘hold’ a maximum of three smells, which explains why every bottle begins to smell the same if you've ever overindulged in a department store. Because we link smells to memories, picking up a bottle of perfume summons powerful emotions. A hint of violet might remind us of a much loved relative, whilst lower notes such as sandalwood send you back to a beautiful balmy evening on holiday. Too many smells in a short space of time is equivalent to hurtling into a DVD of our lives on super-speed - no wonder it can feel overwhelming!
There's far more than memories stirred up when choosing a perfume anyway. We're drawn to different scents for different occasions. Standing at a perfume counter during your lunch break, it's nearly impossible to capture the exact feeling that you get sharing a glass of champagne on an intimate date. Likewise, at the weekend it's harder to (literally) get a sense of the right daytime perfume to lift your spirits on a hectic day at work.
The answer? Take your time - because there's nothing quite like finding the right perfume. So, take advantage of the huge array of scents at perfume counters, but go with a clear remit to pick up samples, rather than be seduced into an impulse purchase. Ask the counter lady for tips - ignoring the orange glow of foundation that seems to be pre-requisite to work on a beauty counter. Ask for suggestions for a day or night perfume. Ask if they've anything that has a hint of your favourite flower. Take the samples home and give yourself time to choose.
Then, comes the really clever bit. Taking your time, not only helps you find the right scent, it can save you money too. Perfume bargains used to be the sole territory of duty-free, however, in the days of Internet shopping, prices vary enormously. Rather than using your precious lunch hour to scout for good deals, shop online. This way, you'll get the best perfume, for the best price.
Even if you're only buying it to wear in bed - the perfect perfume choice turns ordinary moments into something special.
Sarah Maple used dealtime .co.uk and uk. shopping .com to find the best prices for perfume online.