By now you should have got your dinner jacket out of storage, kicked yourself for not packing it with mothballs, and invested in a new, velvet version. But party season dressing doesn’t stop with the tux. Matching scent to situation is the difference between making an impact and overpowering the room.
Black Tie Ball
Masculin Pluriel By Maison Francis Kurkdjian
When every man in the room is dressed more or less alike, it’s the little details that distinguish you from the herd. Sartorially that might be a boutonniere (we’d advise leaving the white jacket to every other man ordering an unstirred vodka martini having seen Spectre). And scent-wise, that means steering equally masculine, but undercutting those musks with something more distinctive.
The olfactory equivalent of donning your gladrags is a fougére fragrance, which pairs sharp, herbaceous lavender with the cosy, barbershop notes of coumarin, vetiver and geranium. But when everyone else is awash in CK’s Eternity for Men, punch through with something less obvious, like Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Masculin Pluriel, which tempers that lavender with leather and exotic woods.
It’s a scent as smart as a bespoke suit, but with a roughness that feels like that tailoring could be ripped off at any moment.
Available at Harvey Nichols, priced £120.00 for 70ml.
Dior Homme By Dior
Though few environments are ostensibly as unsexy as an office, there’s something about booze poured on simmering workplace resentment that makes a printer room seem as seductive as the Connaught’s bridal suite. And since most don’t afford you the liberty of a trip home first, you need a scent that transitions from nine-to-five to god-knows-when, but won’t act as a sharpener for Susan in HR’s libido.
Dior’s flagship masculine fragrance is the olfactory equivalent of a blazer and button-down, a relaxed scent with a dashing edge that transitions from smart into casual. With its heart of grey iris, lavender accord and a warm chocolatey base, Dior Homme is refined yet affable – characteristics you’d do well to remember when Susan asks if you know where the printer paper’s kept.
Available at Boots, priced £49.50 for 50ml.
Christmas Eve Drinks
L’Homme Idéal Cologne By Guerlain
For the evening preceding a stint of sensory overload, time out from overdoing it is advised. Best is a fragrance that’s carefree and fresh, but will warm you up enough so that you don’t need to reach for another mulled wine.
Guerlain’s L’Homme Idéal Cologne is the best of both worlds. It’s fresh, bitter and revitalising with zingy blasts of grapefruit, pink peppercorn and bergamot, but offers warm and wintry notes, courtesy of ginger and almond, that give it a slightly edible edge. Which pairs well with minced pies and a glass of Cointreau.
Available at Selfridges, priced £47.50 for 50ml.
1996 By Byredo
When the big day rolls around the word du jour is ‘comfort’. On a day of snowman sweaters and novelty socks, no one wants you wafting tobacco all over the turkey. For something to couple with a Quality Street breakfast, look to 1996 by Byredo, a scent that was fittingly created by the Swedish brand for fashion photographers Inez & Vinoodh as a Christmas gift for clients and friends.
The fragrance is all about the familiar accord of amber (a sweet, cosy blend of labdanum, benzoin and vanilla) but in an entirely unfamiliar way, painting thick iris powder, piquant juniper berries and creamy vanilla in tones of sepia and oak.
Spray on that Christmas jumper and you’ll still be wearing it come New Year.
Available at Liberty, priced £105 for 50ml.
New Year’s Eve Party
Ultra Male by Jean Paul Gaultier
Though in reality your New Year’s Eve has no bearing on how the next 12 months turn out, as the ball drops, it’s easy to indulge in sentimentality. So look to a scent that makes a statement about the man you want to become – one who exudes confidence and refinement in equal measure.
If you think that Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Le Male is too 1990s (and not in that retro sportswear you’re dolled up in) then reach for the party-worthy Ultra Male, which is both bold and complex. This remix of the original has a few more hairs on its chest, thanks to robust oriental tones of liquorice, amber and patchouli. Which will help you tick off that resolution to smell better, at least.
Available at Debenhams, priced £43 for 75ml.