What to Say When Someone Asks What Perfume You’re Wearing


After inhaling hundreds of combinations of essential oils and alcohols, testing them on every inch of your forearms, you throw down your credit card: You’ve found your signature perfume. The one you spritz in your hair, in between your boobs, and on your bellybutton because you read about that somewhere. The body’s heat sends it upwards? Something like that.

This perfume is you.

Or at least, this is one of the those things that helps you feel unique in this wide, slowly flooding world. Like your iPhone background, your Facebook password, or your elaborate Starbucks order. No one else could possibly have the same, right? Isn’t it pretty to think so?

Until your colleague catches a whiff when you pass in front of her in a mad dash for free donuts in the office kitchen. Ooooh what perfume are you wearing? She or he asks.


But this isn’t fourth grade. You can’t stick your tongue out and say, “Not telling!” and then run away with the last pink frosted even if you touched the chocolate one first.

So, as a public service to you all, here are some possible responses you can go ahead and use, no copyright pending or anything! That’s how important this issue is to me, Alex Beggs, that we keep this world an interesting and diverse one with many scents, good or bad. And mostly because if I smell one more person in New York wearing Santal 33 I’m going to scream.

Self-deprecating deflection:
“You know, it’s funny, it was a gift and the bottle says something in French but I haven’t Google translated it!”

Mystique, sheer mystique:
“It’s a custom blend.”

“It’s ‘Sneeze’ by Trish McEvoy, but sadly they discontinued it and this is my last bottle!”

More lies:
“It’s ‘Snow Caps and Buttered Popcorn’ by Jo Malone, but it was limited edition at the holidays.”

Even more lies:
“I have no idea—it’s crazy, I rubbed a perfume sample from a magazine at my therapist’s office all over my body. That was four days ago.”

Baffle them:
“I didn’t wear perfume today.”

Reveal something else instead, something much more interesting:
“It’s a mix of three essential oils from my herbalist with a sprinkle of holy water I brought back from the Vatican.”

Make things super uncomfortable:
“It’s my scented tampon!”

Ensure they’ll never bother you again:
“It’s expired Axe body spray I found in the back of my medicine cabinet. Or wait, it might be expired bug spray. Hard to tell, but it’s aged nicely, right?”

Isolate them:
“It’s the Hamilton perfume—you have to enter a lottery and good luck with that.”

Give them false hope:
“You know the one they spray when you walk into Macy’s? That one.”

Throw a red herring:
“It’s called ‘Nunya’ by Diptyque.”

Defy expectation:
“You like it? Every morning I spray Paris by Paris Hilton with one hand and Someday by Justin Bieber with the other and they just mingle in a cloud above me like an Us Weekly headline. Isn’t it divine?”

Challenge them:
“What, do you want my social security number, too?” Guffaws

Feign amnesia:
“Huh. I can’t seem to remember. Have you seen my cat? What day is it? Is Hillary Clinton still president?”

Send them running:
“Oh this is so embarrassing—I actually just farted.”

But please don’t say “A lady never tells,” because that shit is corny.

—Alex Beggs

Photo via ITG.

Alex Beggs is a perfume genius—you can read her grown-up scent versions of high school fragrances here.