The gentle scent of success


Aunt Miems of the West Coast has often described the Great Depression and the suffering that went with it. One story Guy About Town remembers was about her cousin’s sister’s son, Willempie, who battled to get a girlfriend.

According to Aunt Miems, he was an attractive young man, but there was a problem. The guy worked as a builder and reportedly perspired a lot. Expensive designer perfumes and oils were not available locally in those days. Soap and water had to suffice. Very few fancy goods were available because of the Depression and the young man sweated so much that no woman gave him a second glance. Guy About Town believes Aunt Miems exaggerated the story for effect, but it does illustrate a point: never underestimate the value of smelling good. Ja, well, as Guy About Town has often said, complicated things are unnecessary. And few things are as complicated as perfume. Undertones, uppertones, oil concentrations, eau de this, eau de that – terms that are Greek to most men, and Guy About Town agrees. Only a few things are important to make sure you smell good so here’s our guidelines: Soap and water There’s nothing soap and water won’t wash clean, old Aunt Miems says. However simple it sounds, soap and water are your friends. (Guy About Town suspects this pearl of wisdom is especially important to teens.) Keep it simple; ordinary white soap or shower soap is the most effective. There are hundreds of types and brands on the shelves. Guy About Town has tried virtually every one and found that fragrance-free soap is best. What to do for that 24-hour day? Photo: Hynkle on Flickr You can scrub until you’re blue in the face, but how do you stay fresh all day? The simplest solution is roll-on deodorant. Yes, the scent-free one is best. There isn’t much difference between the gel and the ball type. It’s a case of personal preference and price. Know your fragrance

There are a few things to remember. First, the origins of perfume. The word itself means “by smoke”. Various fragrances were obtained by burning herbs. Later, fragrant oils were mixed to create unique fragrances.

An important term here is “intensity”. The intensity of an eau de toilette is determined by the concentration of the aromatic or essential oils in it. This also determines the description, price and longevity of the fragrance. Here’s a summary:

  • Perfume: 18-30 per cent concentration of essential oils in the compound; lasts about 15 hours on the skin. It’s very expensive and not easily available.
  • Eau de perfume: 8-18 per cent concentration of oils; lasts 8-10 hours. It’s readily available in shops but expensive.
  • Eau de toilette: 4-8 per cent concentration of oils; lasts 4-8 hours. This is available at most shops and is more affordable.
  • Cologne: 2-5 per cent concentration of oils; doesn’t last much longer than 2 hours on the skin, is available everywhere and is cheap.
Guy About Town says the best value for money is the eau de perfume – that’s if you’re prepared to invest in a good product that will last a long time when it’s used correctly. Where to spray

Guy About Town shares a few tips:

  • Don’t spray it directly onto your clothes because the oils will stain the fabric. Guy About Town often sees neat, white shirts splattered with yellow “butter” marks coming down the passage. This is, in Yours Truly’s opinion, the most important thing to keep in mind.
  • Spray one spurt on each of the following places: in the nape of the neck, at the side of the neck just below the ears, in the middle of your chest, on the inside of each wrist – and one spurt behind each knee. Guy About Town can hear you exclaim, “Really!” Believe me, it works and gives an extra bit of vooma. Try it.
Photo: WikiPhotos
  • Note: Guy About Town said just one spurt. If you spray so much that it looks as if a cloud is hanging around you, the bottle of fragrance won’t last more than a month and people will avoid you because the smell will be overpowering. Few things are as bad as a choking fragrance wafting down the office corridors, in the bathrooms and the boardroom.
  • The correct amount of fragrance is when others become aware of it when they are arm’s length from you. If Susan in creditors at the other end of the building can smell you, you’re wearing too much.
Choosing the right kind

Picture: MonkHie on Flickr

Guy About Town has heard of so many ways of to choose the right fragrance that it made him dizzy. So he came up with a much simpler system and has stuck to it for years. It will probably not meet with the approval of experts, but it works well. Guy About Town can’t bear anything complicated.

  • Perfumes for the day: Select a light, flowery fragrance.
  • For the night, choose from the range of heavy, dark, spicy fragrances.
  • However stupid this may sound, it works for Yours Truly: Close your eyes when you test a fragrance. Does it remind you of fire or water? It’s not always very obvious, but if you inhale again you’ll be able to distinguish between “hot” and “cool” fragrances. Hot fragrances (fire) are for the night. Light, cool, watery fragrances are for the day. It’s that simple.
Test the fragrance on your skin by spritzing it on the inside of your wrist. Yours Truly isn’t a fan of the little strips of paper handed out at perfume counters. Paper isn’t skin and perfume on paper will always smell nice. As soon as it’s on your skin that expensive perfume can smell like cat pee on a Persian carpet (thanks to complicated chemical reactions Your Truly doesn’t understand). Rather test one fragrance today and try another tomorrow or the next day. It’s important to remember that fragrances become part of your personality and that people will recognise you by them. So don’t buy just anything. NB

Guy About Town isn’t a fan of lists of the 10 best fragrances for summer. What works for Uncle Piet while he’s ploughing will definitely not work for sensitive Matthew. The perfect fragrance is a combination of personal preference and chemical reactions. Yours Truly always takes someone with him when he buys a new eau de toilette. Naturally he has his favourite but a young gentleman can never have too many. Buy whatever you like and can afford. But never buy without first testing it on your skin.

So, smell good and look good. You’ll feel like a million dollars.

-Guy About Town and Metroman

Guy about Town and his mate Metro Man blog for YOU about fashion ideas for men who want to look good and fashionable without spending the price of a mansion or look like a strutting peacock. Join in their discussions on Twitter  and Facebook.

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