They say time waits for no man. Which is why, collagen creams and anti-ageing products aside, all of us should seek to age with grace. No one likes a #cooldad, after all, with his trainers, Topman cardigan and ‘trendy’ haircut.

Don’t be that guy.

By the same token, it’s worth realising that your fragrances have a shelf-life of acceptability, just like your attire. No skate shoes past thirty. No Joop Homme after college. Bin the snapbacks when you get a proper job. Stop using that adidas Sport fragrance your gran bought for you five Christmases ago.

It would seem simple, but certain scents have youthful connotations – or will at least remind everyone of something once popular in the 1990s, and should have stayed there. Others are better matched with suits, the preserve of men well into middle age. And some will make you whiff like an old people’s home. What you need is the right spray at the right time.

We’re all for raging against the dying of the light, of course. But it’s time to stop clinging onto your youth when you’re floundering at the fragrance counter in Boots. Like the tide, time moves inexorably on. This, then, is your lifeline: a guide to the fragrances best suited to your age. Consider yourself plucked from the current. We’ll see you for the dry down.

20 And Below

During these sprightly years one truism holds supreme: you can do whatever the hell you want. It’s unlikely you’ll have a job for which there are draconian fragrance rules, so go all out.

Once you hit your late twenties, you’ll probably begin to look back on this version of yourself with envy; these are the good years during which not giving a sh*t is positively encouraged. Youth is wasted on the young, if you believe George Bernard Shaw. So don’t squander this opportunity.

To that end, go bold with your fragrance. Your peers will certainly lean towards a sweeter smell, usually top-noted with strong citrus and possibly even something metallic. Davidoff Cool Water is of course a major component of most amorous teenage boys’ dating kit and remains a bestseller (for good reason), so don’t turn your nose up at it. If you’re looking for something bolder, Paco Rabanne One Million is as youthful but with a touch more distinctiveness.

Davidoff Cool Water, available at Boots, priced £24 for 125ml; Paco Rabanne One Million, available at Harvey Nichols, priced £42 for 50ml.

Davidoff Cool Water 125ml - click to buy Paco Rabanne One Million 50ml - click to buy


Look at you, getting all grown up. Time to get a job, son. It’s also worth noting that the fairer sex tend to mature at a much quicker rate than us chaps, so if both your getup and Cool Water have carried over from your teens into your twenties, an overhaul is overdue if you want to impress at the local watering hole.

While an oud is probably out of financial reach and decidedly too intense, something smarter beckons. Or at least something fresher; sweet fragrances are the preserve of the young.

With aromatic berry undertones and a hint of lavender coming through this otherwise spicy, citrusy scent, Prada Luna Rossa Sport will deliver a quick punch and lasting impression. Luna Rossa Sport was created by Daniela Andrier, a perfumer well versed in the Prada lines with a back catalogue including some of Bvlgari’s best scents, so rest assured your neck and wrists are in good hands.

Prada Luna Rossa Sport, available at John Lewis, priced £47.50 for 50ml.


Face it: you’re getting on. OK, not really, but it’s probably time some trendy Scandi ornament took priority over the PlayStation as your living room centrepiece. ‘Spray-on skinny’ should no longer have a place your wardrobe; your T-shirts should become gradually less graphic-y. Those things you could still get away with in your early twenties have no place here. Allow them to be lost in the mists of time, yeah?

As your wardrobe swells and career flows, don’t allow your scent to ebb back to a time less sophisticated. Something that’ll get you noticed for the right reasons at the office is Terre d’Hermes. One of the most experimental launches in the last decade, it remains unusual still, and is almost guaranteed to be unique in most workplaces.

Without being too punchy, it delivers a woody, spicy, citrus scent that’s underpinned by the subtlest sweetness. In short: it covers all bases and does so with aplomb.

Terre d’Hermes, available at John Lewis, priced £84 for 75ml.


These years can be difficult for men. You’re certainly no longer a sprightly youth, but who wants to let go? Entering middle age is no reason to let your style wane, mind you. If it’s part of your persona, then don’t let your edge dissipate like an old scent. You’ve more tricks up your sleeve.

One of which is Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Oud. Ouds are polarising, of course, but that’s nothing to fear at a time when you’re truly starting to know yourself, if you ask us. If they don’t like it, stuff ’em.

The beauty of Colonia Oud is its marriage between Colonia’s unmistakable vibrancy and freshness, so synonymous with Acqua di Parma, and the deeper oud scent of agarwood. It’s a fusing of your youth and vigour with the distinctiveness of older age. It’s a glance back to what came before and a look forward to things to come.

Acqua di Parma Colonia Oud, available at Harrods, priced £160 for 100ml.


Everyone knows men get better with age. It’s time for sharp suits, tailored sweats, cigars, country walks, broadsheets, Radio 4 and the corner office. Frankly, we can’t wait.

Another plus, of course, is that you can go back to that youthful attitude of your teens: not giving a sh*t. Indeed, you’re never been your own man as much as you are now. Which is why it’s time to go even bolder with your fragrance, instead of reverting to Old Spice.

Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille is warm with the scent of smokiness carried by a creaminess and slight sweetness. The design was inspired by the smell of a traditional English gentleman’s club. Which is more in keeping with how you should smell at this age than Joop’s eau de nightclub floor.

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, available at John Lewis, priced £145 for 50ml.

Final Word

How has your fragrance collection matured over the years? And which scents are currently part of your rotation?

Share your recommendations (and age) below.