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I'm always reading the perfumista threads and thinking everything sounds lovely but I'm not sure how to work out what I like. I love the idea of getting some more interesting / niche scents, but where should I start? I am really dim about perfume and don't really know what all the scent types are like. e.g. oriental - I would have no clue what that would smell like. Is there somewhere I can go to smell lots of interesting things (I'm near London)? Doesn't your nose get confused after 5 smells or something? Also, a bottle of perfume lasts ages. Do you all have several bottles on the go. Don't they go off? It's a (beautifully scented) minefield! Any guidance much appreciated.
Go to a 4160 Tuesdays workshop. Brilliant way to tune your nose and decide what works for you. I always have several scents on the go. Keep them away from sunlight and use them frequently and they won't go off. Visit a perfume hall or independent perfumier for guidance once you've identified the notes you prefer (and your budget).
I started my perfume journey simply by reading the perfumista threads on MN, and making notes of what I might like.
A fair amount of department store sniffing ensued, and I ordered a selection of decants online (decants are small bottle, maybe 5-10ml, taken from a full bottle - there;s a roaring trade, driven by people who can't afford full bottles). Any I didn't like were swapped with other perfumistas (a lovely, generous bunch, I've found), or sometimes sold on eBay.
I now have a great collection of little bottles, from all ends of the fragrance spectrum. Some I love, some are "challenging", but they are all fascinating. They are all kept in the dark.
Did somebody mention Les Senteurs? I became a perfumista by sniffing Chanel and Dior and Hermes boutique perfumes and by spending a lot of time at Sephora and niche perfumerias. The Turin - Sanchez quide is also terrific! Then I started mail-ordering samples and decants.
Seconding Les Senteurs! I haven't yet been to a shop but they are lovely on the phone and their website is informative.
There are tons of perfume blogs to keep you informed of new launches; it's a matter of finding one or two that you enjoy reading. I have liked Now Smell This (US) and Bois de Jasmin (European). Both are well written and varied.
Sniffing and spraying is the only way to discover what you like and what suits your skin chemistry. As Cointreau says above, you'll probably find you end up buying decants to avoid having lots of unloved full bottles reproaching your extravagances. If when you end up with too much, you can always swap away your mistakes.
I have bought quite a bit from Surrender to Chance. They are in the US, so the postage isn't cheap, but that just means I order loads in one go. But they have the most amazing range. Everything is divinely packaged, with a couple of sweets popped into the package. If you add yourself to their mailing list you get regular discounts.
Another good source is Aus Liebe Zum Duft (from Germany). Les Senteurs do a sample service. Or good old eBay - quite a few people have set themselves up offering decants for sale.
Perfumed Court, also in the US, are my usual source of decants. They quite often have discounts too, and their turnaround isn't bad. Postage is always quite expensive though but to have a decent quantity of several niche scents that I couldn't buy locally (wilds of the south west) for the price of a mainstream bottle, it works well enough.
I always knew that perfume did something to me, <ooer> but it was only really following these wonderful perfumistas many of my gurus up here on this thread that I started reading blogs, browsing websites and spending an absolute fortune buying a lot of perfume.
I've realised that I'm a vintage girl, and am now building up a collection of the pre 1990 scents that are just so very me.
I find ebay Germany quite good- obviously with ebay you never know that what you are getting is the real deal, but somehow there seems to be less fake shite in Deutschland.
I have always loved perfume and scents, but never had the opportunity/ability to indulge until I discovered decants, samples, fragrantica and e-bay. Second also the Turin/Sanchez book. I used to also sell decants on eBay until it was outlawed and there were lits of semi PRI sellers around (a few still do it, but risk their account being closed/banned -a risk I can't take). I have a massive stock left from those times (see my list in the latest perfume thread), and am open to swaps, offers, etc.