Summer might be the time we all shop for shades, shorts and sunscreen, but it’s also the perfect time to grab a new scent. We’re not just saying that to make you buy another bottle of the smelly stuff. There are some very good reasons for switching to a different, lighter fragrance as the mercury rises.
The ingredients or ‘notes’ that make up a bottle of pulling sauce react differently in heat, intensifying and dispersing faster, which means that heavier scents loaded with oud can become overpowering.
Grooming science aside, when it’s hot out we also want to smell (and feel) clean and fresh; a task quite hard to do when reeking of musk, vanilla or amber, but much easier with the help of Sicilian lemon grove.
The question is: what to wear? Well, here are 14 all-time classic summer fragrances that will always be worthy of a sniff, and the others they smell like to help you pick the right one.
Few truly stand-out fragrances have emerged in the last decade or so, with most brands choosing to update old wins (which become known as ‘flankers’) rather than create something unique.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. “In my opinion, Terre d’Hermes is one of, if not the best men’s fragrance to come out in recent years,” says Grant Osborne, founder of online perfume resource Basenotes.
Earthy, woody and spicy, with notes of grapefruit, pink pepper, geranium, cedar and vetiver, it’s deliciously fresh yet warm and sensual. This is a true grooming hall-of-famer.
Tom Ford Neroli Portofino
People salivate over Tom Ford fragrances almost as much as they do over the designer’s impeccably-cut suits. And with good reason.
Proving that you don’t need to be decades old to be considered a classic, 2011’s Neroli Portofino is an expertly balanced (and bottled) blend of lemon, mandarin, myrtle and Egyptian jasmine.
Imitated, but never bettered, the scent perfectly captures the essence of summer and the swagger of the designer himself.
Chanel Allure Homme Sport
Still going strong 13 years after its release, Chanel’s Allure Homme Sport is one of the best-selling (and just one of the best) sport fragrances on the market.
“Like Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino, Allure Homme Sport takes a lot of classic materials and combines them with interesting modern ones to create something new,” says British perfumer Roja Dove.
A fresher, sharper take on the original Allure with blood mandarin, aldehydes and sea notes, stick this one in your gym bag and leave it to do the heavy lifting in your post-workout grooming routine.
Creed Virgin Island Water
Despite being best known for its Green Irish Tweed fragrance, Creed’s Virgin Island Water is still an olfactory journey worth embarking on.
A unisex perfume launched in 2007, it’s inspired by a sailing trip near Ginger Island in the Caribbean.
The resulting scent goes big on mouth-watering lime and creamy coconut notes, capable of transporting anyone within nose-shot to the Amalfi Coast, even if it’s not much cheaper than a plane ticket.
Comme des Garçons 2
It’s the aim of each ‘nose’ (the men and women responsible for producing scents) to create a scent that has its own unique handwriting.
Comme des Garçons 2 takes this idea to a whole new level by basing itself on the Japanese art of calligraphy.
Created by the same expert behind launches from Burberry, Givenchy and Paco Rabanne, this 1999 concoction leaves behind the smell of fountain pen ink (in a good way) once the top notes of mandarin orange, tea and angelica dissipate. Write it down as the next one to add to your collection.
Acqua di Parma Colonia
There’s no getting away from the fact that Acqua di Parma’s Colonia is the fragrance every man wants seen on his shelf. But what’s housed inside the Instagram-baiting bottle is no less impressive.
A blend of zingy citrus fruits coupled with lavender, rosemary, sandalwood and patchouli, it remains the century-old brand’s best and most versatile fragrance.
Granted, it’s not the cheapest, but given that it’s just as appropriate for a warm night in New York as it is for a daytime trek around a Greek island, it’s the only one you’ll need.
Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio
There aren’t many fragrances that could be given to almost any man as a well-loved gift, but Armani’s Aqua di Gio is undoubtedly one of them.
Made distinct by its bitter-sweet aquatic notes, which gives it a marine freshness, di Gio’s glory days in the ’90s may be behind it, but it sells consistently well to this day.
The addition of patchouli, rockrose and cedarwood means this is a scent that works for both day and night, ensuring it’ll still be around in another 20 years, too.
Eau Sauvage By Christian Dior
In 1966, while England was celebrating its (one and only) World Cup win, Paris-based fashion house Christian Dior was brewing its own success story in the form of Eau Sauvage.
Wonderfully fresh, bursting with zingy citrus notes and rounded out with warm woody ones, it’s a great fragrance whatever the time of year, but it’s especially good in summer. “It’s refreshing, chic and always impresses without even having to try,” says Dove.
Reach for this one on date night, as Sauvage was the first men’s fragrance to contain a chemical compound called hedione, known to stimulate an area of the brain responsible for the release of sex hormones.
Versace Pour Homme
It’s fair to say we’d wear almost anything created by legendary nose Alberto Morillas (CK One, Acqua di Gio, 212 For Men, the list goes on), but that doesn’t take away from the charm of Versace Pour Homme.
An aromatic fougère fragrance created in 2008, Versace’s signature medusa’s head on the bottle guards an intense blend of Mediterranean ingredients like neroli, hyacinth and clary sage.
If you’re looking for a classic fragrance that’s fresh, clean and oozes confidence, this is the one for you.
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme
While we can’t all look like David Gandy (especially when clad in the same white budgie smugglers), we can at least smell like him by wearing Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue.
One of the Milanese fashion house’s most successful fragrances of all time, it has spawned countless updates over the years, all inspired by sparkling summer days that turn into warm nights.
Unsurprisingly, this award-winning juice is swimming in Mediterranean sensuality thanks to notes of Sicilian mandarin, frozen grapefruit peel, bergamot and juniper.
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male
When looking to create a classic fragrance, the bottle design is almost as important as what is stored inside, and few are as instantly recognisable as Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Le Male.
Housed within the Breton top-wearing male torso, the fragrance that has received countless limited-edition updates since 1995 is built on contrasts. Masculine, yet gentle. Traditional, yet bold. Strong, yet sensual. But one undisputed icon.
For that, we can thank mint, lavender and vanilla, which combined add up to something that’s intense, modern and warm. Très bon.
Davidoff Cool Water
Not all guys are into citrusy scents, which can make adding to your olfactory arsenal during the warmer months seem difficult. But there are alternatives.
For something a step away from the ordinary, try the barely-there Davidoff Cool Water, which has been a go-to summer scent for more than 30 years.
By swapping limes and lemons for mint, seawater and lavender, the Swiss luxury brand created something that’s fresh, sharp and equally as masculine as the founder’s range of cigars.
Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme
Like with makeup, perfumers never planned to have separate scents for men and women – that didn’t properly come in until marketers decided so in the 1920s. Therefore, there’s no shame in wearing a fragrance targeted at women.
If, however, breaking the gender divide is a spritz too far, try something like Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme.
While it’s labelled for fellas, this 1994 creation features prominent citrus and floral notes including blue lotus and saffron for something that’s light on its feet.
It may not have the greatest staying power in the world, but 4711 Cologne beats almost every other scent on the market in terms of longevity as an actual fragrance (not to mention price).
Created in 1792, its full name 4711 Eau de Cologne (‘water from Cologne’) leaves no doubt as to where this German-produced perfume originated and continues to be produced.
It’s a superbly fresh blend of citrus fruits and aromatic herbs like rosemary and lavender. Buy the dinky 25ml bottle if you can find it, keep with you at all times and reapply often.