Dollars And Scents

Continuing on from the post about my naked face, I decided to shop for aftershave / cologne fragrances. Oy, vey.

As I intimated, the last time I used this stuff at all was in the 1970s / early 1980s, so times have changed [sigh] and as always, not necessarily for the better.

I used to use Halston 1-12, but it’s no longer in production and while it’s still available — and cheap! — I fear starting to use something which is no longer made because after a while, it starts to cost more and more because of diminished supply.

And anyway, just because it smelled okay on me back then, there’s no guarantee it would still smell good on me now, because one’s body chemistry changes with age (I’m told).

So I would have to, I thought, start looking for a “new” fragrance and experiment over time to see which one would work — and just for the hell of it, I hie’d me off to Macy’s. Dear God.

Firstly, the prices… sheesh, I’m a guy, not a chick. You can’t expect me to spend $100 (or more) just for some smelly stuff, when there’s ammo to be bought from the same pitiful bank account.

Plus, I think that the product offerings are just proof of the Pussification Of The Western Man,, to coin a phrase, and I suspect that the fragrance people use the poxy inhabitants of the West Hollywood YMCA as product testers. A few samples:

Eros? by Versace? Nope. Next:

Perhaps if they spelled their name (and product) with a “U” instead of that pretentious Latin equivalent… but no. To proceed, then:

Sorry; Dior to me means “chick stuff” and while I am quite secure in my masculinity, I wouldn’t use a product called “Kotex” either, even if it came in 140-grain boat-tail softpoints.

Ditto anything made by some Spaniard, and also, did you see the price of it?  That’s five boxes of quality self-defense .45 ACP, at the discount price! Next!

“Chanel’s Bleu by Chanel” — from the Department of Redundancy Department. Also: Chanel? See “Dior”, above.

Even the perfumes in “masculine” packaging look as gay as Brian Boitano:

“Viktor and Rolf”?  “Spicebomb”?
A man could get some exotic venereal disease just by buying that stuff. To continue:

“Guilty” of what? Spending too much money on bullshit smelly stuff?

No no no no no. No. Clearly, I would have to resort to the more old-fashioned scents and/or potions. But which?

$105 for Ralph Lauren? It is, as they say, to laugh.

So I quit Macy’s because clearly I was looking in the wrong place, and headed off to Amazon.

Before I entered their online portal, however, I decided to do a little pre-research, because I was going to have to try more than one cologne, just to avoid problems with unsatisfactory smells etc. So I called up an old girlfriend (Skype is a godsend) to get her ideas on the topic.

“I remember liking the way you used to smell.” (After so many years… hubba hubba.)
“Do you remember what cologne I wore back then?”
“I liked the Old Spice… it always smelled fresh, you know?”
“Great. So I’ll get some of that…”
“Wait… I also liked English Leather on you. You wore it to that party at Carol Beith’s house, and I remember it.”
Better and better. “Remember the Halston 1-12?”
“Oh yes — YES! I loved that smell!” [pause] “Or was that the cologne that Kissy Foss [my replacement – K.] used? It’s SO long ago.”

So that was my research. I know, it’s a sample of only one ex-girlfriend — but I couldn’t do any more without running afoul of the restraining orders.

The next question, as I clicked on the Amazon link and started to enter product names in the search bar, was: does anyone still make these things anymore? Well now, lookee here:

…and just for kicks, and the hell with Kissy (his actual nickname) Foss:

English Leather wins out, on a cost per ounce basis anyway; but I’ll try them all, get some feedback from some of the (very few) women whose opinions I trust, and make my final decision. Then I’ll order a boatload of the winner, so that I won’t run out anytime soon.

Or maybe I’ll just grow my beard back.

Afterthought: In response to Reader goingtothefields (Welsh? no matter) in Comments, I need to tell y’all something.

I too know something about the fragrance business — back in the days of sailing ships, I worked at an ad agency whose client was Max Factor, and at whose behest I did a one-week course on fragrances: their types, their classifications, their histories and most tellingly, the trends.

As with all things, scents follow a pattern — one falls out of favor, another comes in, and the large perfumiers can actually predict what fragrances will be popular up to five years out: musk, floral, citrus, spice(s) and what have you are all combined in different measures to create the product, akin to the creation of blended whiskies and whose formulations are closely-guarded secrets..

It’s all a lot of bollocks, of course. Basically, the costs in the fragrance industry are 65% marketing, 20% packaging, 10% merchandising and 5% product: hence we end up paying retail prices of hundreds of dollars per ounce for perfume (as opposed to cologne / eau de toilette, which are cheaper, but less effective because of dilution).


  1. I have a soft spot for old spice, if and when I use aftershave.

    Mostly I go full bearded though.

  2. Kim,
    Thank you for the legwork, research, etc. I’ve been kinda sorta off/on/off/on the hunt for a masculine fragrance. Your efforts here are saving me a shit-ton of sampling, etc. Thank you.

    Digressing for a moment, I offer you TWO THUMBS UP (a la Siskel & Ebert) for your suggestion of the lovely, athletic and talented Frau Witt for your choice of full-figured feminine pulchritude. Well done, good sir. Well done, indeed.

    Lastly, as a resident of the region known as greater Chicago-stan, having witnessed Macy’s suck up and destroy Marshall Field’s, I have but one thing to say. I’ll scream it at the top of my lungs, from the mountain top . . . FUCK MACY’S. Although we can still get Frango’s, so there is that.

    From behind enemy lines,
    – Brad

  3. I greatly enjoy your blog, Kim.

    Lilac Vegetal by Pinaud. I’m practically glued to my husband’s neck when he uses it. Best of luck finding that perfect scent. Ages upon ages ago I worked for a fragrance house. Body chemistry does greatly affect scent expression. You may have collect and test a few samples before you find the right one.

    Modern fragrances for men are, like most other aspects of male fashion, designed to be less threatening. No more overt leather with a hint of spice; it’s all floral heavy or watery calone (the fragrance molecule that made Acqua di Gio famous).

    You can never go wrong with the classics.

    All the best.

  4. Jeeesh.

    Looking for work or women, shave. once you have either or both make the decision on whether to shave or not. Old Spice works fine if you need an odor other than soap. Anything else is marketing.

    And that is more thought than I want to expend on the problem.

  5. Personally, I am of the opinion that a man (or at least this man) should have no scent whatsoever. I use unscented deodorant and that is it. I despise aftershave, cologne and anything like that. I do not want to “stink pretty.”

    I don’t like it on women either for that matter although that is just because I don’t care for the smell, it does not seem wrong in the sense that it does when guys where it.

    When the wife wears perfume I say that “she has her husband repellent on.”

    1. I don’t use scented anything either. My wife bought me some scented deodorant, and once cologne, but we both agreed they didn’t really work for me, or her either. So it goes. My Dad was Old Spice all his life; even near the end when he had to give up his razor for an electric he would daub a little Old Spice on afterwards.

      My wife’s shampoo has a delicate scent I find delightful; its really all she needs, so its fortunate she doesn’t use other scents much if at all.

  6. You can usually buy the classics, Old Spice, English Leather, etc., at discounters such as Ross, Marshalls, etc.

    Going further downscale, you’ll also quite often find ’em at the various brands of Dollar Stores, which have proliferated like herpes in Hollywood.

    Dollar Store Bonus. A free, up close and personal view of the latest trends in tattoos, piercings and welfare chic apparel.

    Seriously though on the assorted Dollar Stores. You won’t find better prices on things like shaving cream, razors, traditional brand name soaps & shampoos, etc.

    On the topic of fragrances. We all know that if they made a women’s perfume based on Hoppe’s No. 9, we gents would all be poleaxed and powerless to resist. Not that some hottie can’t get us that way in the first place just by being though, right?

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  7. As an Old Schooler, I too was brought up on Old Spice – even used their shaving soap in a mug.
    After service, and into the work force in the Late-60’s, I started to use Brut too, I think it was the Joe Namath ads.
    Interestingly, both can now be found at Kroger’s (Ralph’s, or Food4Less, here on the Left Coast).

  8. My dad has been a life long Old Spice guy. He doesn’t think the current “classic” version smells the same as the stuff he had used for years, but he still uses it because its what he can get that’s “Old Spice”. Being a typical kid, I wanted to be different from my dad but not too different, so I’ve always used Pierre Cardin cologne/aftershave. Unless I have a date, these days I usually go without. Why waste smelling good on the douchebags I work with?

  9. Don’t go with Old Spice/English Leather/Brut unless you want to smell like an old man. Most women had fathers who wore these scents, in fact, I think my father does, and given that he is 79…it’s okay for him to smell like that but is that really the association you want any potential date to make about you? Contrary to Freud, most women don’t want to ‘know’ their fathers in a biblical fashion.

    When I first my Sabra, he smelled very masculine and divinely sexy. I couldn’t get over the smell of him – eventually I found out what the scent was and bought a bunch of bottles to hand out to my girlfriends when they whined their married life had grown dull. 8 years later and I still get bottles of my favourite Irish whiskey as ‘thanks’ from their husbands.

    Paco Rabanne pour homme – the original one – 3.4 ounces for $26 on Amazon.

    1. Shosh — I AM an old man. And the Paco just doesn’t work for me — I tried it back in the day, and it made my nose twitch, it was so spicy.

  10. While it’s just soap for me, the next time you find yourself meandering about The Shops at Willow Bend, search out the store called The Art of Shaving. You’ll find all sorts of tools, accessories and fragrances geared toward grooming the male in a manly manner.

  11. Last time I remember using any sort of aftershave or cologne was back in the ’60’s. I’m your basic rural, clue-collar kind of guy and I just never really saw the need when I could spend that money on dinner or a gift for my special someone.

    Time has passed, and now that I am retired and on my own, I rarely even shave. But over the years I discovered that a quick splash of Jack Daniels usually worked pretty well for that “special” aroma.

    You should try it.

  12. Try HUGO by Hugo Boss. It’s not overly floral and even comes in a reasonably butch little glass canteen.

  13. May I suggest Hoppes #9?
    I’ll bet you already have a pretty good supply of it.
    I know you enjoy the aroma and it’s a pretty good lubricant, too.

  14. I always liked Old Spice, the men I respected most on earth wore it. it smelled like wisdom to me. But as Shoshana above says, it’s “Old Man Smell” bottled in bond. Because I work around a lot of Japanese, who can be offended by strong scents, I use scent free deodorant and no aftershave. When I’m on my own time I use Drakkar which the wife likes, and for me there’s no other reason to wear aftershave.

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