Perfume is the perfect girlfriend gift. You don’t need to worry if your friend is going through a not-so-skinny stage or what she has in her closet. There’s always room for an addition to our scent wardrobe.
But gifting fragrance does take some thought. You want to make sure to choose a scent that matches each friend’s personality and taste. Here are some tips from the pros on how to pick a perfume that’s right for each and every one of your BFFs.
Step 1: Start a conversation.
Go to a the perfume counter at a department store or to a well-stocked apothecary and “have a thoughtful conversation with the sales associate about your friend’s personality and sense of style,” says Mindy Yang, president of MiN New York, a perfumery in downtown Manhattan that carries scores of scents from around the globe.
Step 2: Ask the right questions.
Before embarking on your fragrance quest, Yang suggests asking yourself these questions: “Which kind of perfumes does your friend normally wear? Is it sweet or spicy? Does it trail off or is it more intimate, worn softly on the skin? Is your friend an active person? What does your friend do professionally?”
The answers to these questions will help the salesperson guide you to a few scents that will be good matches for your friend. Always remember, Yang adds, to inquire about the shop’s exchange and return policy. “Don’t forget a gift receipt,” Yang says, “and ask for a sample vial to enclose with your gift so your friend can test the fragrance first!”
Step 3: Narrow in on a fragrance category.
If your friend is flirty, a girly girl who likes to be the center of attention, her perfume personality is floral, Yang says. You’ll want to sniff out scents that have notes of rose, jasmine, violet, orchids and other flowers, perhaps, with some spicy or fruity notes added to the blend.
If you’d describe your friend as cool, quirky and sexy, you’ll want to pick a perfume with a sweet, offbeat sensuality, Yang says. Try fragrances from the “gourmand” group. As that name suggests, these are scents with edible notes like honey, caramel, vanilla, saffron, cumin, even waffle cone.
Is your friend laid back and low key? Is she the type to be found at the yoga studio, gym or hiking trail when your reach her voicemail? She fits into the “fresh” perfume personality type. You’ll want to pick a scent that smells like citrus, fresh-cut grass or one that evokes the ocean.
If you’re buying a scent for a new friend you don’t know all that well, go with a fresh scent, says Dana Knees, president of Pastiche Custom Perfume. “Something light-scented is always a better choice than something with a heavy scent,” Knees says. “Sweet heavy perfumes are really loved by only a small percentage of people – and people who love heavy scents usually like fresh scents as well.”
Step 4: Consider her lifestyle.
While your friend may love bold scents, these might not work if she spends her days in a conservative office setting, says Renee Bukowski, a scent development expert with Tru Fragrance, a perfume manufacturer. “It might be more sensible,” Bukowski says, “to opt for lighter versions of her favorite scent, which are often labeled as ‘eau fraiche’ or ‘eau de toilette.’”
Shelley Levitt is the managing editor of The Style Glossy. She is a former West Coast editor of Self and senior writer at People.