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Five stages of men’s scents

From budget spray-on to signature fragrance, the journey towards scented self-discovery can be a long and winding one. Here are a few of the stages we all encounter along the way. 

five stages of men’s scents

Picture: Rex

Stage one: Your dad’s smells
In the dim and distant recesses of every man’s memory is the moment when you realised that your dad smelled different from anyone else in the world. While your older brother stunk of BO and wet football kit, your old man just smelled, well, manly – especially just before he headed off to the pub. Eventually you realised that this wasn’t his basic aroma. This sparked the life-changing realisation that the distinct tang was coming from that impressive-looking glass bottle in the bathroom cabinet. Which eventually led to…

Stage two: Nicking your dad’s aftershave
In caveman times, men marked their coming of age by beating their fathers up with an eff-off big club. Nowadays, they just nick his aftershave. If your dad has good taste, this is a win – basically the best-case scenario was getting access to some classic 90s-vintage CK One. The worst was the kind of corrosive scent that, as Anchorman had it, ‘worked 60% of the time, all the time’. Still, whatever was there, slapping it on with panache marked you out as a man at the local park.

five stages of men’s scents

Picture: Vantage

Stage three: The gift-pack years
When you hit your teens, smelling good becomes a necessity, which is where the beauty of gift packs comes in. Every year your Aunt Jenny, or another random relative who doesn’t know what to get you, grabs a couple for your birthday. And as long as she hasn’t been to the local pound shop, you’re laughing. While not quite as exciting as a new phone, they give you a chance to work out what scents really suit you and learn the vital lesson that it pays to be subtle rather than splashing it on.

Stage four: Finding your signature scent
By the time Aunt Jenny has stopped bothering to buy you presents, you’re probably well on the way to finding your own signature scent. This means going beyond the hype to discover what fragrance is going to follow you through the rest of your life. By now you’ve probably learned a scent hack or two as well – like applying it to the top of your arms rather than your wrists. This instantly stops the fragrance being rubbed off by your shirt cuffs when you’re at work. 

five stages of men’s scents

Picture: GoffPhoto

Stage five: Editing your scent selection
At last you’re able to give your bathroom cabinet and edit your wash bag to David Beckham-level standards. Gone are the products that just don’t suit you, replaced by a tight selection of everyday expert buys. If you’re into a particular brand you’ve probably got the whole system – body wash and moisturiser included. Plus, you’ve got two next-level scents in reserve – one bright and fresh for work, and something more sophisticated for big nights out.