Recently, the topic of the increasing perfume blogosphere raised its head again, and it’s been interesting to read some of the discussions. In light of the fact I was recently asked to join Beauty on the Outside (hee hee!), it was heartening to find a predominant sentiment of “Definitely new people should write. We like stories! More stories!” Well, I’ve got lots of stories, so here goes nothing….
Hello! My name is Dionne (Hi Dionne!) and I’m a perfumista that owns fourteen bottles.
“Holy Cow! 14 bottles?” Now depending on why you’re reading this post1, that phrase could have two very different meanings. Fourteen bottles is a lot for those who aren’t obsessed with perfume, but positively anemic for those who are. So why so few bottles? If you’d asked me six months ago, my response would have been quite simple: financial considerations. I have a $40 a month sampling budget and my full bottles are usually Mother’s Day/Birthday/Christmas gifts.
But two things happened near the end of 2011 that shifted my focus. First, in the comment section of Now Smell This (on a post I can’t find now and a commenter I can’t remember, sorry) someone made the point that for them the most enjoyable part of perfumedom was smelling new samples, and the acquisition of bottles was secondary. I realized that was where most of my enjoyment came from as well.
The second thing that happened was a doubling of my sample budget for the months of October, November and December to compensate for 3 months earlier in the year when I didn’t order anything. I was really looking forward to my plethora of smellies. Woohoo! This was going to be great!
Imagine my surprise to find out it was just too much. I didn’t have the normal amount of time to really immerse myself in my new goodies, partly because of my scent-glue skin2 and inability to multi-frag.3 It’s now near the end of February and there are still unsniffed containers lying around. I’m actually feeling panicky about this.4
These two epiphanies combined into a larger lightbulb moment: a small budget is not a limitation, it’s an option. Moving forward at such a slow pace actually has advantages, and the more I thought about it, the longer that list of advantages grew.5
- My wallet. Pretty self-explanatory.
- I’ve never had a disastrous unsniffed purchase, because…well… I’ve never purchased unsniffed. Besides, my skin chemistry is so quirky it doesn’t make sense.
- I love all my full bottles. Not just love, but LUUUURVE. The lemmings have got to be tough little beggars to make it to the final round.
- There’s lots of time to wear the LUUUURVES.
- There’s also time to do wrist vs. wrist comparisons, as I find it the best way to parse out notes. PdE’s Wazamba was part of my January order, and as an incense-lover with quite a few samples Wazamba got a good two weeks of action.
- By the time I realized I needed to keep a spreadsheet and start organizing my samples, it wasn’t an overwhelming task.6 Storage space isn’t a huge issue.
- I’ve found some great lines I may not have searched out otherwise. It’s not like I’m deliberately avoiding By Kilian and its ilk, and someday I’m going to work my way through the Amouages, but I’ve developed a soft spot for the indies. My internal motto for Sonoma Scent Studio: “Come for the low prices. Stay for the beauty.”
- Related to that, I’ve found some great fragrances because of deals online that lasted long enough for a chance to sample. There’s an 8ml decant of l’Ombre dans l’Eau in my stash because of a great sale at The Perfumed Court last summer.
- Ennui is a loooooong way away. There are many lines I am still looking forward to trying, and notes still to discover. I just sniffed Philosykos for the first time this month, and wow! It’s going to be fun sniffing all the fig possibilities.
- The redonkulous number of new releases doesn’t faze me, because keeping up was never on the radar.
- Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so disciplined that I’ve never bought something on impulse, it just doesn’t happen a lot. One thing I’ve learned with a large family: it’s easier to be spontaneous if there’s underlying structure. In perfume terms: occasional impulsive perfume purchase + general restraint = no guilt.
- Occasionally I’ll mention my slow-perfume style here in the blogosphere, and get replies like “I envy your discipline. I’m not sure I could do that.” Who doesn’t love a nice compliment from time to time?
- Anticipation is its own pleasure (and all the connotations that implies – oh yeah, I went there). I’ll sit on birthday money for months before I make up my mind, shivering with glee all the while. My next major bottle will come on Mother’s Day, and the auditions have already started.
- To end on a more serious, philosophical note, being genuinely happy for someone who has more than you is good for the soul, and worth practicing. No matter how much you have, there’s someone out there with more. Contentment has nothing to do with stuff, or with comparing yourself to others, it’s about recognizing the abundance you already have.
- Because I love all my bottles, I’ve never participated in a swap. They look like fun.
- Part of perfumista culture is the incredible generosity in sharing samples and decants. It’s taken a while to develop a big enough collection so I can be a small part of that.
- Splits are usually done for new releases. By the time I get around to sniffing them, those opportunities have passed.
- Bottles are pretty. I totally get the appeal.
- I usually miss out on sales if they’re an act-now kind of thing.
There’s probably a lot more cons than the five I just listed. If I put my mind to it, I’d probably come up with at least 14 downsides to balance the upsides of my plodding, turtle7-like ways. This way of going down the rabbit hole isn’t better or worse than any other. It’s just different than the norm, and it works for my personality. Perfumistas are not a one-size-fits-all. There’s room here for everyone, including those who don’t have a lot of disposable in the income.
So come on in. The water’s just fine.
1 I told my friends about the invitation to join BoTO. All of them. There were many requests for a link.
2 Mals’ term, and boy does it apply. Naturals go for a full 8 hours. The longest-lived perfumes are 24-hours-and-a-shower-later, and that’s with just 3 sprays. And yet I’m fair, with blue eyes and dry skin. Go figure.
3 You’d think that with 5 kids I’d be an amazing multi-tasker. Nope. Wearing more than two perfumes at the same time produces such cutting-edge insights as “nice” and “not nice”
4 It’s part of my nature to want to explore all the paths. You ever shopped with that annoying someone who found a great deal in the first store in the mall, but still had to check out every option before they bought it? Yeah, that’s me.
5 There are 14 pros listed, to go with my 14 bottles. Check me out with my bad self.
6 Except for those ridiculously tall and skinny Hermès samples. How the heck do you store those things?
7 I almost chose a tortoise as my gravatar.