The New Rules for Wearing Cologne

There is little doubt that we are living in a time of unprecedented change. Society is changing, politics are changing, the environment is changing, and the way men should be wearing their cologne is also changing.

Just like how fashion trends come and go, and styles change with seasons, so to should the way men wear their favourite colognes and fragrances. 

In the past, the men's blueprint for wearing cologne was very simple: spray on each wrist, couple of sprays on the neck, and out the door you go. And in terms of scent themes, floral & fruity were deemed appropriate for summer, and spicy & woody were the go-to's for winter. But do those rules still apply? Let's find out.

How to wear cologne as a modern man

How men wear their fragrances is becoming a form of modern day etiquette, which in and of itself can create confusion and misunderstanding. To help you navigate this, we've rounded up some new rules to live by (in terms of your cologne) as well as some rules that will never change. 

1. Always wear what you like

This can apply to most things in life. What you like and feel most comnfortable should come first: clothes, your hairstyle, and crucially, what fragrance you wear. 

Never choose a fragrance simply because someone else told you too. Never blindly believe a fragrance will suit you. Just like clothes, what someone else thinks will work on you, does not necessarily mean it will match your personal aesthetic or taste (or in this case, smell).

That being said, there are again caveats and qualifiers for this. Using the outfit analogy again, you wouldn't wear a three-piece suit to the gym. And conversely, you wouldn't wear your gym vest to a formal dinner party.

While you may not think so, a mismatch in fragrance choice can almost be as noticeable in terms of what is appropriate for an occasion. Which brings us to the next rule...

2. Choose your cologne for the appropriate occasion and setting

Just like different genres of music, different colognes & fragrances can invoke different emotions the people who smell it. Floral, tropical notes create thoughts of summer, and lend themselves well to outdoor environments. These are most appropriate for things like a day-party at your friends place, or beach sundowners on the promenade.

On the other hand, subdued fragrance notes like that of leather and wood might be more appropriate for corporate & office settings. 

For occasions where you want to make a statement (such as the office christmas party), bold scents with oud and tobacco would be a fantastic choice.

Knowing the appropriate fragrances for each occasion will help you choose just the right cologne to make an impact. 

3. Don't limit yourself to particular brands

Everyone knows the big name perfume brands: Dior, Chanel, Creed, and Bvlgari certainly come to mind. And for good reason; these brands do indeed produce some of the best fragrances on the market. But for the budding perfume enthusiast, there are plenty of incredible gems to be found amongst other fragrance houses.

In fact, most of the innovation happening in fragrance design comes from more niche and specialist brands. 

Don't limit yourself to fragrances exclusively from one brand. Instead, try to branch out and explore other fragrances which match the style of perfume you love the most. 

4. Less is more

We all know how tempting it can be to over-apply colognes and perfumes when we're heading out to a particular occasion. This is because we have this belief that we ourselves must be able to smell the fragrance in order for everyone else to.

But this is most certainly never the case. If intensity of a smell reaches your nose after applying perfume, best believe you will be burning the eyes of those around you. Perfumes naturally dissipate outwards off the skin, so if you have applied your fragrance correctly, it is unlikely you will get a strong whiff of it. This is ideal.

The general principle for applying cologne to the head area for men is this: 2 sprays on each side of the neck OR one spray on each side of the neck, and one spray just behind each each. That's it. Don't overdo it, otherwise you rick coming across as inexperienced in the perfume department.

5. Experiment with different gender fragrances

This one might be controversial to some, but it is becoming increasingly popular for men and women to cross the gender divide of fragrances. Not only are genderless and unisex perfumes becoming increasingly popular amongst the brands themselves, but it is becoming more mainstream amongst fragrance afficionados too.

Yes, some fragrances lend themselves better to a masculine or feminine energy, but true connoseurs of the perfume world know that some of the best use of a fragrance could be to wear a masculine scent as a woman, or a feminine scent as a man. Don't let yourself be deterred by "for him" or "for her" labelling on a perfume, experiment with testers and vials, and judge a particular fragrance based on how it suits you.

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