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Senior Women And The Perfume Minefield

Perfume is a minefield for 60-plus women. Apply too little and it goes without notice. Apply too much and those you’ve tried to impress will instead be distressed.

When you’re dating senior men perfume can be an important accessory, but how it’s worn is what separates the fragrant from the frantic. Nubile young women can splash on any old thing, but senior women need subtlety and refinement. An elegant and agreeable scent must do for us what firm upper arms and luxuriant eyelashes accomplished in the past.

Like lots of American women, I haven’t mastered the just-right application. French women do it perfectly. When I greet my delicious-smelling friend Adrienne with the customary kiss-on-both-cheeks, she invariably chirps, “Maischerie! No scent?! You’re naked!” whereas my son’s comment will be, “Holy cow, Mom, did you take a bath in that stuff?”

I won’t give up, and neither should you. Here are some smell-good guidelines for a woman looking to make her mark without asphyxiating a promising senior man.

Match your scent to your style. If you’re a formal, ladylike lady, choose a bright floral or a snappy, peppery something. If you’re happiest in jeans and t-shirts, stay with a light, uncomplicated scent. Chanel No5, beautiful as it is, will seem silly on a woman who appears ready to hop on a horse or a skateboard — or cross the campus to the faculty lounge (full professors don’t wear Opium). Heavy scents are for fashionistas, drama queens, and ladies who drink non-herbal tea.

Don’t buy cheap smells. Buy quality — unless your idea of a first date is a rough ride on a Harley, in which case you can just dab on some Prestone antifreeze. There’s a grey market for perfume, but the choices are limited, and your discounted bottle may have spent the last 3 years in an overheated warehouse. Fine department stores have huge selections and their salespeople know the difference between Thierri Mugler and L’Eau d’Issey. They can help you narrow your choices, but when you give yourself over to salespeople, stand firm on your principles or you may depart with the product they like – not the one that’s best for you.

Use perfume for campaigning, not concealing. Jewelry and perfume are mainstays in the arsenal of the woman who’s trying to shed 10 years or s0, but neither of them will make you young. Perfume will not eliminate droops and sags. What a well-chosen fragrance will do is provide a hint of your softest, most feminine side. Senior men are excited when they imagine they’ve discovered your pliability.

Beware: the sense of smell evokes powerful memories. Whether he’s widowed or divorced, your senior men may experience shock — even trauma — if you’re wearing a fragrance he associates with his wife. My friend Lucy, whose signature scent is Shalimar, spent a disastrous first date with a widower who after a bearhug hello literally shrank away from her and stayed silent all evening. His wife, it seems, had worn Shalimar nearly every day of their 40-year marriage. He apologized for his behavior, but he never called Lucy again.

Maintain a signature scent. Older men like routine, and they don’t do well with a change in bus schedules, breakfast cereals, or fragrance. A brief period of testing is in order, of course; you’ll want to see where his olfactory sympathies lie. If he comments favorably on a perfume you’re wearing, you’ve hit the jackpot. Buy a gallon and make frequent use of it.

Spritz it on lightly – very lightly — just before bedtime. Seduction is the reason perfume was invented, and bedtime perfume can be a powerful weapon. But your bed is not a flower garden. A pungent, overbearing scent will have the same effect as a kick in the groin. He wants to smell your skin, your breath, your body. He wants to have sex with you, not Balenciaga. At bedtime the barest hint of fragrance is almost more than enough.

Keep an eye on the future. While I was researching this post, I came across a study from Chicago’s Rush University, in which researchers warn that an inability to identify odors is a precursor to moderate cognitive impairment, which is, as you know, a precursor to Alzheimer’s. If an otherwise delightful man seems unable to smell your carefully applied scent you might want to give this warning some thought.

And since I’m no expert on applying perfume, I refer you to these sites on which scent-savvy women write delightfully about how to wear the stuff – and other perfume lore.





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'Senior Women And The Perfume Minefield' have 10 comments

  1. June 6, 2015 @ 1:59 pm Helena

    I agree, subtle is best (unless it doesn’t have any staying power.) If it’s strong (like Terry’s Angel or Alien) it literally causes people to tell me I smell “old.” I’m 40, my guy is 58. I don’t want to smell “too old” so I tried others… They don’t make it anymore, but one of the scents I noticed guys used to like was Desire. So, I figured a method to find out what scents men prefer. I ask them what flower they like best in the garden. My guy said he isn’t into perfume but said orchid, so I picked out Morocco Orchid / Pink Amber and he loves it. If he says gardenia, there’s the gardenia, there’s “Morning?” at the Body Shop. Vanilla Fields (or anything containing vanilla -even vanilla oil used as perfume) will actually bring out the 1st and 3rd layer notes of whatever perfume you select. These are cheap scents but they work.

  2. July 19, 2013 @ 4:17 am Sienna

    Hmmm…the scientific approach. Well said, jacco!

  3. July 18, 2013 @ 9:01 pm jacco

    Perfumes and delicate scents are definitely very
    exciting on women as long as they compliment their natural pheromones!

  4. July 18, 2013 @ 8:30 pm Claire1234

    That first piece of advice really hits home. It can be jarring when a woman’s perfume does not match her personal style. I’ve tried wearing what other people are talking about but I always come back to old favorites.

  5. July 17, 2013 @ 8:05 pm Sienna

    Renee — I’ve gotten feedback from other readers who say their allergies prevent them from spritzing scent. You’re lucky that Now Husband is smart enought to appreciate the real, unfestooned you.

  6. July 17, 2013 @ 2:04 pm Life in the Boomer Lane

    Our sense of smell brings back our memories in ways more profound than sight or hearing does. While I am affected by the scent of objects in my past, my allergies adversely affect my ability to enjoy perfume and more delicate scents. Now Husband, on the other hand, has a highly developed sense of smell. That makes him an intuitive cook and a devotee of body scent and perfume. He tells me my natural scent is fabulous, so I don’t have to worry about perfume. So he is the scent wearer in the family, and I just get to be me.

  7. July 17, 2013 @ 1:06 pm Sienna

    Reciprocity is the soul of happy marriage.

  8. July 17, 2013 @ 12:13 pm Penelope

    I appreciate a subtle scent on men and I do enjoy it and I imagine they would appreciate the same.

  9. July 17, 2013 @ 11:07 am Sienna

    Iona, you’re so right about light scents – they don’t stay on me either.

  10. July 17, 2013 @ 10:55 am Iona

    I’m sorry, but subtle doesn’t do it for me. They don’t stay long enough for me to get out the door. And I do think perfumes can be too young, like you’re wearing your granddaughter’s.

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