Fragrances for Thanksgiving

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!



20 thoughts on “Fragrances for Thanksgiving”

    1. LOVE carnations. LOVE them. Potluck feasts sound awesome… it would have been a good day for football here, with temps in the mid-50s, very pleasant!

  1. I would wear maybe 85% of this list 😀 It’s fun to see you give recommendations outside of your comfort zone, Mals! I sprayed on NV Trayee earlier, but may end up going with something foodier for dinner. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving! <3

    1. Trayee is so contemplative – at least it struck me as being that way. Very calming stuff. So what did you wind up wearing for dinner??

      I love Thanksgiving very much, but I always struggle a little with scents that go well with Thanksgiving dinner… I did wind up with Poivre, which does actually have a bit of a floral angle, but that spicy pepper stuff is da bomb. I do love the spicies, but orientals are so tough for me. SIgh.

  2. I wore Portrait of a Lady to Thanksgiving Breakfast at a local diner. This evening, I will probably switch to Like This (I want to use up my sample even though it is quite sweet on me).

    1. PoaL is quite nice. And BIG. But I imagine it would cozy up very well to food, especially with that oriental balsamy stuff in the drydown.

      Like This is pretty sweet, yeah. Today’s the only day I can really imagine wearing it without thinking how odd it is!

  3. My scent has to be able to stand up to mustard greens and garlic mashed potatoes. It must also be able to last through hours’ worth of dish-washing for 57 people, so I always Go Big. This year I have decided on Jubilation 25, and plenty of it.

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

    1. Mustard greens, interesting… we tend to switch between steamed broccoli with cheese sauce and fresh steamed green beans. But I bet the mustard greens would be terrific with ham! Can’t wear Jub 25 myself, but it’s a stunning fragrance.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you!

      1. Steamed green beans? Child, I thought you were Southern! 😛 We cooked ours down for hours with bacon.

        I tried a new recipe with the greens this year…they were braised in cider, with garlic and applewood smoked bacon. ( are you sensing a theme here?) Mighty, mighty tasty!

        Also made some maque choux. Between the country ham, the spiral ham and all the sides, I believe we may have consumed an entire hog.

        1. My grandmother cooked hers that way, too. Until she was in her 70s, and discovered steamed beans… She would drizzle them with a little olive oil, though.

          I don’t even know what maque choux is! but your greens sound really great.

  4. Oh, I broke ranks and wore L’Aimant, L’Aimant. It just does all the things that Chanel No5 is supposed to but won’t: “Puleez, I am not gayting into zose pants, I am French, aftair all!” L’Aimant says. “Drawstring sweats, OK woman, but it is your funeral if you turn profile in them!”

    L’Aimant has a live and let live philosophy.

    1. L’Aimant seems quite warm-hearted. I GET the No. 5 reference, but it doesn’t have that Chanelly iris backbone. I have some 60’s/70s PdT, and the waft (you know, the haze hovering four inches above your wrist?) smells like hot peach pie to me. Closer to skin, it’s considerably more floral.

      I will not comment on drawstring sweats except to say that I wouldn’t wear them for an extended-family Thanksgiving dinner. My mother still likes us to dress up… though I let my kids wear jeans…

      1. No, we have to get into the drawstring pants after Thanksgiving, during which we have of course been wearing our nice clothes. Men don’t understand what happens to the waistline, (it gives in like the Maginot line after a German attack), after two and a half servings of pecan pie and extra sweet potatoes!
        We wouldn’t disgrace ourselves by wearing said pants in public! Well OK once on an early school drop off-but that’s it!

  5. I decided that I wanted to wear something I love and grateful to have in my life – so I wore Lancome Climat. But since it’s a dab parfum I hope it didn’t bother others much.

  6. Climat is SO pretty. I have one of those small 15ml La Collection bottles – EdP, I think – and I don’t wear it often, but I always enjoy it.

  7. I wore Neil Morris’ Tea House, which to me is a lighter version of Tabac Aurea. It is a smoky tea and leather scent, warm and comforting. Unfortunately, it seems to be discontinued, as it’s no longer listed on Neil’s website.

    1. That sounds really nice. I haven’t made much of a foray into Neil’s fragrances – possibly if I had discovered his stuff before I did SSS or DSH Perfumes, I’d have gotten more into it. As it is, those two feel like “my” indie houses, and I tend to get confused when I start investigating other ones. But he gets a lot of love from a great number of people!

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