Unless you happen to be watching an episode of The Real Housewives (take your pick of cities), you aren't apt to see women dripping in head-to- toe logos these days. That's because the focus right now is on creating a customized vibe that's all your own. "It's a reaction to all the sameness out there in terms of clothes, shoes, and even fragrances. Women are searching for things that are different. They don't want to look—or smell—like everyone else," says Karen Grant, an analyst with NPD, a worldwide market research firm.
Which may be why the trend of scent layering is catching on. "If you love two scents apart, chances are you will also love them together," says Susanne Langmuir, a perfumer in Toronto. Start with one of these four universal notes, and then marry it with one of its suggested pairings, or play around on your own.
Blending for Beginners
Vanilla, white florals, musk, and marine scents (those ocean, fresh air, and cut-grass smells) are the four most universal fragrance notes, says Langmuir. They're the cornerstones of most fragances, and they pair beautifully with loads of other scents. So Pick your favorite, then start spritzing.
Try Sula Vanilla Blossom ($32, ulta.com) or Prada L'Eau Ambree ($76, neimanmarcus.com)
with one of these...Rich woody fragrances (like those with dominant cedar or tobacco notes); grapefruit scents; eaus that feature white flowers, like gardenia
Try Bath & Body Works Twilight Woods ($29.50, bathandbodyworks.com) or Lancome Hypnose Senses ($49, macys.com)
and you'll get..."Vanilla goes with everything," Langmuir says. "It lends sweetness to a woody scent, and when a citrus, you'll get a Creamsicle smell. Florals give vanilla a flirty, tropical playfulness that's sensual and decadant." Mix this...White Florals
Try Jo Malone Tuberose ($55, jomalone.com) or Marc Jacobs ($70, sephora.com)
with one of these...Oriental scents with heady spices like incense, cardamom, or clove
Try Tokyomilk Ex Libris Parfum ($28, beautyhabit.com) or D&G 6 L'Amoureux ($65, sephora.com) Mix this...Musk
and you'll get..." White flowers like gardenia, tuberose, neroli, jasmine, and frangipani make anything you layer them with more feminine," Langmuir says. "This combination creates a beautifully balanced perfume with a powdery with a powerdery, vintage-like, soft-yet-sexy quality."
Try The Body Shop White Musk Midnight Iris ($17, thebodyshop.com) or StellaNude ($63, sephora.com)
with one of these...Soft "green floral" scents, like those with violet; fragrances that have a dominant citrus aroma, like lemon
Try YSL Parisienne ($65, sephora.com) or A Scent by Issey Miyake ($65, neimanmarcus.com)
and you'll get..."Fresh scents like green floral and citrus lighten up musk without masking its inherent sexiness," Langmuir says. It's the equivalent of paring jeans with a hot top. Mix this...Marine
Try Tocca Aqua Profumata Amalfi ($38, sephora.com) or Pucci Acqua 330 ($59, sephora.com)
with one of these...Soft floral perfumes that feature lily of the valley or honeysuckle
Try Clean Ultimate ($69, sephora.com) or Couture Couture by Juicy Couture ($65, bloomingdales.com)
and you'll get..."The clean laundry or ocean scents are somewhat unisex, so adding floral notes makes them smell softer and prettier," Langmuir says. "It's like walking into a flower shop: You smell a fresh, pleasing mix of green stems immersed in cold water and fragrant blossoms in full bloom."