Last week, this website posted “The Cologne Conundrum,” which basically argued that cologne is unlike any other element of personal style. And not necessarily for the better. At the end of the post an invitation was made to the cologne wearers out there to write counters to the post if they wanted. And a few kindly accepted the challenge. Here’s what some of them had to say…
I enjoyed your article on cologne. It did push me into writing a short counter, as I saw a core problem. You have assumed people do not have a natural scent. It is not about what scented items they have on, but the natural body odor they produce. Some men look good shirtless; should we all throw away shirts as useless impositions on others sight because a short, stocky man chose to wear checks and plaids?
In fact, we are surrounded by scents chosen by others and imposing themselves on us constantly. Just walk into another man’s home and you are instantly hit by the smell of not only him but possessions and their own natural odors creating a melange uniquely identifying him. Why should a man not wish to impose order on the odor he presents to the larger world? I would go so far as to say you choose to do so by not wearing a cologne yourself. You have found a good natural scent to present: yourself mixed with your clothing, deodorant, hair product, and so on.
Besides this, do we wear the same clothes day in and day out without ever changing? Hardly. Yet wearing no cologne relegates a man to the same smell every day. He can’t match it to his mood, his outfit, his circumstances. No cologne could be for interviews and professional events, while a leather tone could be his regular. The same way you rarely remember individual clothes someone wore, the cologne chosen blends in to present the man in his best light. Or, if poorly selected, his worst.
To sum up, I would consider cologne a part of the wider sphere of style similar to Dappered Space picks. Minimalism has it’s place, but I do enjoy a good chair.
I wear cologne only when I’m with my fiancé because she likes the scent and wants me to wear it. (It was also her idea. A previous girlfriend went cologne shopping with me and she really enjoyed the shopping.)
Need I say more?
I feel your response to counter argument #2 doesn’t really do it justice. Suppose you’re the kind of user who sprays conservatively and prefers a cologne with low sillage: the kind of scent that hovers close to your skin and won’t travel very far. Then, what you have is a pleasant surprise for anyone willing to lean in close, and a scent that is unlikely to overwhelm your nose all day (unless you’re spraying your face, which would be a mistake). I only get a whiff of the cologne I wear a couple of times a day, and usually only when I’m walking in a breeze. To avoid nose fatigue, one can also switch colognes seasonally or resist wearing a cologne every day.
That said, given how off putting it can be when cologne is overdone and how hard it is to master the rules of cologne etiquette, I found your post regrettably necessary.
And there you, perhaps, have it. Both sides of the argument for cologne. But as Emad put it, cologne can be overdone, and cologne etiquette isn’t exactly common knowledge (I had to google “low sillage” myself). Be careful out there fellas. And when in doubt, less is more.