Let’s say that some time ago, you decided that you wanted to be a person who looks good in hats. You’d seen other people look good in hats, and you wanted to do that, too.
You bought a hat. Maybe several. You were enthusiastic about it.
You discovered that you don’t look good in hats. Not sunhats, not buckets, not cloches, not ten-gallons, not handmade knit ones, not even a simple baseball cap.
Does this deter you from buying any more hats?
Not necessarily. Ten years later, you still don’t look good in hats, but you still want to look good in hats. You keep finding yourself in front of a mirror with a new head accessory, looking ridiculous, time and time again.
Why is this?
Because hope springs eternal, that’s why. You want to look put together and stylish. A part of your psyche insists that if you can find a way rock a fedora, something in your life will fall into place, and you shall be put together forevermore.
I admit, I’ve been there. I have a foolish dream like this that I have been circling for quite some time.
Years ago, I read an article in O Magazine where a woman wrote rapturously about wearing one designer perfume for years. (Donna Karan’s Cashmere Mist, maybe?) She described how the cologne in that curved bottle comforted her, how the scent had permeated her life, how it had become a personal touchstone.
That sounded classy. The whole article gave off an air of casual elegance, and I wanted to be causally elegant. I decided that I, too, wanted to have a “signature scent”.
I set out on a mission to find a perfume that is a perfect match for me, one that pleases my senses, one that subtly states my presence, my own olfactory calling card.
I tried the classics first, beginning with – what else?- Chanel No. 5.
A classic, timeless scent that smelled like roadkill on me.
There was a string of others. Coco Mademoiselle. Burberry. Ralph Lauren’s Romance. J’adore. Not a one of them worked. I wanted to like all of those scents, with their waft of sophistication and status, but my nose said, “Get this stuff off, ninnie, before you puke.”
I went through a Hanae Mori Butterfly phase. After draining a free sample, I made a longer-term commitment and snagged a big bottle of the stuff on eBay. But in the end, that aroma wasn’t a match, either.
It would seem that I’m much more “casual” than I am “elegant”.
As an additional sticking point, I have been a choral singer all my life. One of the hallowed laws of singing in a tight, compact group under hot stage lights is that one never wears a strong fragrance. So, I can rarely wear perfume, even while on the hunt to find my one, true bouquet. I tried to side-step this rule once, by slathering on a scented body lotion before a rehearsal. As luck would have it, one of the basses standing behind me had an allergic reaction to the almond oil used in the cream, and I had to skitter to the ladies’ room to wash off as much of the scent as I could.
After all this time, I’m still signature scent-less. I should just take the hint, right? I’m not a perfume person. Everything I think will smell great on me seems to morph into some unknown odor once it hits my body. No essence seems to express my essence in the pure, classic way I want it to.
And yet… Hope springs eternal.
I’m at it again, haunting the rows of fragrances aisles at the mall. I brought home a new choice – Philosophy’s Pure Grace. It was quite pleasant, right up my alley, but the scent evaporated at an alarming rate once out of the bottle. I returned it, and came back home with a sample of Skin by Clean. Only time will tell if this match is “the one”.