Gifts for the Friend Who Wants to Smell Good (and Slightly Odd…But Mostly Good)

Our favorite fragrances for smelling like a pile of wood, an intergalactic bubble bath, and a dinosaur-exterminating meteor.

Gift Guide
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Image: Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Perfume is commitment in a bottle. “You smell like this now,” your new diffuser essentially tells you, and you may for a very long time given how long it can take to get through an entire batch of the stuff. That’s a lot of molecular pressure. What if your taste changes? What if you were in a really good mood the day you sampled the scent you devoted yourself to, but have since changed your mind? This is why fragrance makes a wonderful gift: It mitigates the emotional burden of the stuff. It properly situates an olfactory accessory as a mere add-on to one’s life. It can take up space on someone’s shelf without reminding them that they just dropped a lot of money on something they’re not really using. At worst, when you gift a fragrance, you give someone something to regift or throw away while imparting your thoughtfulness (and putting a not-exactly-cheap dollar value on your relationship). At best, your gift of fragrance will allow someone to slightly reshape their identity (or at least have another option with which to match their scent to their outfit) and remind them of you for years to come.

Here are some suggestions for “unisex” fragrances that (hopefully) straddle the line between accessible and avant. A very fun part of getting into fragrances as, like, a hobby, is reading the user reviews on the website Fragrantica, which are often florid, intensely specific, and wafting drama. For this reason, I’ve included an amusing/illuminating quote from these reviews for each fragrance included in this guide.

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