Depending on your mood or where you’re headed, your outfit may vary. You might don jeans and a T-shirt for running errands, a conservative suit for an important business meeting, or a full-length gown for a flashy gala. So why would you wear the same fragrance all the time?
That’s the question posed by Shannon Drake, a New Orleans-based entrepreneur who has opened a pop-up shop at Elizabeth Anthony to help clients build and expand their fragrance wardrobes.
“We consider fragrance an accessory. Some people are more passionate about that than they are about handbags or shoes,” Drake explains. “Everybody’s got their little niche, but I think that you need more than one fragrance to really evoke how you’re feeling and to complete the look.”
For the past 12 years, Drake has researched artisanal fragrances around the world to introduce to the North American market. She founded a luxury lifestyle brand called God Made Me Funky; she has a signature “feel-good” fragrance (Valiant by Boadicea The Victorious), she says, but she chooses other scents for other occasions.
“I have fragrances for what I wear to the gym—yes, I wear a fragrance to the gym—what I wear to pick up my kids, what I wear in the winter versus what I wear in the summer,” she says. “Sometimes I wear a fragrance just for myself; sometimes I wear a fragrance to feel attractive. Scent is tied to memory so closely that different scents are going to mean different things for different people.”
Another reason to alternate scents? After a couple weeks of wearing one fragrance, you lose your sense of smell of it, Drake explains. “So we start putting on more because we think that there is something wrong with our fragrance," she says. "But we’ve just become immune to it.”
That’s probably why the woman in the elevator or on the airplane next to you may reek of perfume. The remedy: Politely tell her to wear another fragrance for two weeks and not to touch her signature scent. Then, when she starts over with her favorite scent, she’ll smell it again—and probably not douse herself in it.
To expand your fragrance wardrobe, Drake suggests visiting an online fragrance encyclopedia like Fragrantica and keying in the ingredients of your favorite scent. “We can look at signature fragrances and normally figure out where to start with adding different things," Drake says. "Certain people are drawn more to florals, or they may be drawn to musk, orientals, or green fragrances.
“I don’t think you are going to necessarily get someone out of their comfort zone, but you can get them to try a full fragrance blended more for winter wear this time of year—something that you would wear with a heavy wool coat," she continues. "That’s going to smell very different than a floral that you wear to the beach.”
Drake has more than 100 fragrances at home, although she admits that the cache includes scents she tries out for her business and fragrances she's worn in the past and since retired (her first fragrance was Ruffles by Oscar de la Renta, which she received for an Easter gift at age 7). Others are scents she loves to wear at different times—including to yoga class, where she dons a lavender fragrance.
“People in class will say, ‘What are you wearing? You smell great,’" Drake says. "I don’t mean dousing yourself with fragrance—just one squirt, so when I do downward dog, I can smell it and it takes me in the moment.”
When Drake applies a scent, she usually dabs it on the inside crease of both elbows rather than on her wrists, where it could get washed away while rinsing her hands.
And she keeps her fragrances on the dressing table in her bedroom closet—never in the bathroom. “The bathroom is the worst place because the temperature changes drastically every day because most of us like hot showers, not cold ones, ” she says.
As long as fragrances stay at a consistent temperature, they will retain their potency. “You don’t have to keep them in the dark; you don’t have to keep them in the refrigerator,” Drake says. “And wear them! They’re not meant to be kept for 25 years.
"For a while, we, as a culture in America, got away from wearing fragrance," she continues. "I think we’re heading back to opulent fragrances that make us feel more engaged. You don’t have to bathe in something to enjoy it.”