A very happy Thanksgiving celebration to my fellow Americans! Readers from elsewhere, I hope there’s a celebration of the wonderful things you have, at some point in the year – even if it’s only, say, a Tuesday afternoon when you look out the window or around the table at the faces of your family, and you feel grateful for life and everything in it.
But down to business: you’re probably going to do the Thanksgiving celebration thing today, and you need a smell for it, right? You’re probably going to be cooking and/or eating turkey and trimmings, or some other meal that means festivity to you, you’re probably going to be cleaning up after the meal, and you might possibly watch a little American-style football into the bargain (because nothing else says “America” like violence and committee meetings).
To jump right into the discussion, choosing a fragrance for Thanksgiving can be difficult. You Oriental fans are probably over there laughing right now, because oriental perfumes lend themselves very easily to being backdrop for food. (Unless you overapply. I read a comment recently by someone whose sister had just begun wearing 1980s-style lashings of Calvin Klein Obsession before Thanksgiving, and the poor woman said that Obsession-flavored cranberry sauce is horrible. I’m shuddering right now, just imagining it.)
But us floral gals? Outta luck. Don’t believe me? Okay, imagine this: the savory smells of sage-and-onion dressing, lemon-herb turkey breast with gravy, fresh rolls, the multiple dishes of pickles that my grandmother insisted were de rigueur for a formal meal, the broccoli with cheese sauce… with the floating overlay of a green floral like Silences, or a rose scent like By Kilian Rose Oud, or a beautiful, cool tuberose like Carnal Flower. Or even Chanel No. 19.
I just threw up in my mouth a little. (And I love Carnal Flower.) See? Florals Just. Don’t. Work. So what’s a Thanksgiving-loving fumehead to do?
Here are some suggestions for a fragrance to accompany your corn pudding and pumpkin pie. You can go gourmand, with the Big Guns:
Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanilla – vanilla, cream, and booze.
L’Artisan Havana Vanille/ Vanille Absolument – rum, gingerbready tobacco, and vanilla.
Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau – toasted croissant with maple syrup. Yum. On the other hand, sometimes this makes me feel a little queasy.
Etat Libre d’Orange Like This – pillowy, maple-ginger-pumpkin-carroty delight. I don’t think I could wear it at any other time of the year, though many people do.
You can go amber/oriental (this is definitely not my favorite category, so my recommendations are somewhat limited):
Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan – dry herbs and sweet rich amber, a good compromise to the savory food and sweet dessert.
Anne Pliska – sexy orange creamsicle.
Guerlain Shalimar – smoky, naughty lemon-vanilla rrrrowr.
Parfums d’Empire Cuir Ottoman – a deep amber-colored leather, very comfortable.
You can go chypre:
Piguet Bandit – especially great if you’re trying to avoid that one annoying relative.
Givenchy III – bitter, like an aperitif.
Estee Lauder Knowing – rosy, but with plenty of hedge.
Guerlain Mitsouko – of course. Mitsy smells bitter and warm at the same time, very autumnal.
Coty Chypre – only for the very lucky.
You can go smoky:
Le Labo Patchouli 24 – smells like a bonfire, which is fine if somebody grilled the turkey, until later, when it smells like vanilla. The vanilla should kick in just in time for the pumpkin pie.
Cartier Les Heures XIII – another smoky-vanilla, but one that’s more comfortable to wear.
CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves, or November – smoky and earthy, but with a sweetness underneath.
Cuir de Lancome – only faintly smoky, with no sweetness, but dry and restrained enough to not disturb anybody’s digestion.
You could probably do a vetiver too, especially if you’re on a diet and avoiding dessert. Vetiver sits somewhere between dry citrus, celery, green wood and smoke, all of which would probably be fine with the savory portion of the meal. I don’t like vetiver-centric fragrances, so I won’t suggest any. (If you love vetiver, you don’t need my suggestions anyway.)
You can go spicy:
Givenchy Organza Indecence – spicy vanilla, but with enough raspy patchouli in there to keep it from being All Dessert, All the Time.
Comptoir Sud Pacifique L’eau du Gouverneur – clove, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, and tonka. Dry and somehow exhilarating.
Caron Poivre – peppery spice perfection. Preferably the vintage if you can get it.
I think I may go with Poivre, and take my sample of Like This in my pocket. What will you be wearing? Happy Thanksgiving!