For the first time in 165 years January in San Francisco was completely dry. A curious fact on its own, it gets a little scary when put into the context of three years of drought. If that wasn’t enough, January was extremely warm: an average temperature for the month was 12C (54F) with nine days at 20C (67F) or above mark. It felt good, especially while reading about cold fronts and snow storms in many areas of the country and in Europe. But at the same time it worries everybody here: we need water. Desperately.
January was also a dry month perfume-wise for me: I haven’t bought a single ml of any perfume. I can’t say it was a record since over the course of the last 5 years there were one-two months per year when I wasn’t buying even samples – but it’s somewhat unusual. And it wasn’t even due to austerity measures or anything like NY resolution!
Since I was amused by that fact and looked up my acquisition habits, I decided to build this month’s statistics post on the observations I made.
I looked at perfumes I bought in the last four years – as long as I have this blog. Samples, blind buys and perfumes that I liked from pre-perfumista times were excluded from calculations since they wouldn’t fit the parameters I considered for the statistics. I’m not going to divulge the absolute numbers for bottles/decants purchased (it’s between me and myself) so all results will be in % of the total number.
Most of my purchases (68%) were full bottles. 17% of my acquisitions fell under my definition of large decants (from 10 ml). Travel bottles got the third spot with 11%. And finally small decants (5 ml) made the smallest impact – just 5% of the total number of perfumes, for adding which into my collection I paid.
But these numbers are trivial; it’s not what this post is about. For a while I planned to analyze the growth of my collection from another point and write about it: do I immediately fall in love with perfumes I buy later or do they grow on me over time? My knee jerk reaction when I answered this question before was: I like those perfumes that later join my collection from the first time I try them. But now I can actually quantify that assumption.
I looked at my data of the first testing for each of those perfumes that I later bought and discovered that on the first try I absolutely loved 54%, liked 37% and wasn’t sure about 9%. There wasn’t a single event of the change of heart where I’d dislike the perfume initially but would grow fond of it later. 91% is an impressive number, right? So I am either that good in recognizing gems or extremely stubborn.
Finally, I got curious how long it takes for me from the time I encounter a perfume for the first time till I open my wallet. On average it takes me a little less than a year (343 days) to decide on a purchase – really close to what I described in my earlier post Spontaneous me: Diptyque Volutes. It looks like the easiest decision for me is getting a full bottle of a perfume I loved from the first sniff (just 211 days). The longest “waiting period” happens for travel bottles for perfumes I loved (1,194 days) and full bottles from the “not sure” category (942 days).
If you were to think about your current collection, do you have more bottles that were an immediate love or those that win you over time? Just your estimate, I don’t expect any normal people to have that type of records.
Image: my own
It’s a great and interesting statistics post.
Were I to answer your question I would say that most perfumes I own in my collection were bought upon a “love at first sniff”. And I’m not spontaneous about purchases. Even if I fell in love with perfume when tried for the first time, it can take me 2-5 months before I actually buy it.
There is one perfume (Cuir Ottoman from Parfum d’Empire) which I didn’t like at first but it grew on me over time and that’s when I decided to spring for a full bottle. Earlier I used it from samples
Thank you, Lucas.
I think it’s a wise strategy to buy perfumes that you love after a careful consideration, especially when on a limited budget.
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Do you think the insight that you are right from the get go so often will influence the time until you make a purchase in the future? I.e.: that you can trust yourself more?
I am the complete opposite of you, spontaneous and often wrong, but on the upside, I guess I am not stubborn when it comes to perfume. ;)
I don’t think that I wait because I’m afraid to change my mind about the perfume – I’m just trying to limit how many perfumes join my collection because even if I had no budget limitation and would buy all perfumes that I tested and liked, I won’t have time to wear them anyway :)
Nope I don’t buy on first sniff. I take my time. Usually around 6 months, with the odd exception. I buy so little because I don’t love very many. I have a small collection. xxx
Small collection is great! When I had a smaller collection I could easily decide what to wear the next day every night before falling asleep. Nowadays on many occasions I can’t think of what I want to wear and either stare at the shelves/go through drawers in the morning or have to consult a database. I’m even thinking of writing some sort of a generator of a random choice based on when I wore it before, my reaction and something else – I just need to come up with that “something else” :)
i hope you get some rain soon. That is a scary stat.
Thinking it about the bottles I love the most tend to be those I took time to fall for. I need to learn from this. I seem to be forever needing to move bottles on that didn’t work out.
It must be good not to have many bottles that were mistakes.
We got rain yesterday and today! Yay! It’s not enough to fix the problem but still nicer than without it altogether.
It should be nice not to have too many mistakes but that I don’t know ;) My statistics tells only the beginning of the story. Maybe next time I’ll go through the same list and check how I felt about those perfumes when I wore them last time, how many times I did it or when was that last time.
My dear Undina, a month without rain or any precipitation is drastic. I heard on the radio this morning that SF and environs got some rain but that it was just a drop in a bucket. I’m sending more rainy thoughts your way.
My current collection is made up primarily of instant loves and unsniffed large “samples” :-). If I try something, love it but don’t purchase it right away, it is usually because I am waiting for a good deal or consolidating purchases to get a better one. I do reject more than I buy.
We got some nice rain yesterday and some today. I hope there will be more tomorrow. But we need a lot more to shift the situation away from the disaster.
I buy 5 ml decants unsniffed in splits instead of spending a similar sum on smaller samples from STC or TPC but I did not count those for that statistics.
I’m the same way with waiting for the best deal (you remember how we both bought Impossible Iris? :) ) but sometimes it actually impedes my getting perfumes I want to (I keep looking for a discount for Krigler – why do they have to have that “coupon” field in their online card?!! It means discounts exist! :) )
I almost never buy on first sniff. I try and retry, and if I still love it, I’ll buy the full bottle. So for me, the whole process usually takes 2 – 6 months. Having said that, if I see a good “bargain”, I’ll just pounce on it.:)
The question wasn’t as much about buying “on first sniff” but rather evaluating if perfumes in your collection actually were love on first sniff when that sniff happened.
Bargains are our enemies: we tend to buy “cheap thrills” instead of saving money from several bargains for something more expensive that we want but do not buy.
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I know. I’m definitely moving towards saving up every pennies to buy the one I really want rather than buying random cheap deals. I think most the bottles I have are the ones I fell in love in the first place. There are some exceptions of course. Portrait of a Lady, for example. With this one, I developed my deep love over some time. :)
It’s interesting because PoaL was an immediate love/want for me :)
There are a few perfume bottles in my collection that I blind bought (some successfully, some not), and there are some bottles that I bought the same day I tried them (these “love at first sniff” bottles all happen to be bottles I bought while on vacation in Paris, Rome, etc). By and large, though, my full bottle purchases usually require time and careful deliberation. The perfumes in my collection that I love best were purchased after I went through a decant of 5 ml or more, and sometimes a couple decants (Amouage Jubilation 25, Chanel Coromandel, Chanel No 22, Caron Tabac Blond extrait, to name a few).
Here’s hoping that you have rain in San Francisco (and other parts) again soon, Undina. That weather is rather worrying.
Perfumes bought while on trips are getting extra “love points” from us because they keep reminding us about good time we had while there.
We had two rainy days – today and yesterday. I’m hopeful for one more tomorrow.
As I look at my little group of bottles, I realize they were all love at first sniff for me. I am a sniffer. If my first sniff from a bottle’s cap or its sprayer smells good, I will try it on. If I don’t like that first sniff, I don’t wear it. I very rarely give a fragrance a chance to convince me of its merits over time.
I admit I have samples of a few fragrances that I go back to even though I don’t want to wear them. One is Chamade. I liked it at first sniff, but the rest of it doesn’t work for me so far.
Most of the perfumes that I didn’t like on first sniff (not disliked but rather wasn’t impressed) usually stay where they were in my mental hierarchy or move just a little. I might change from “like” or “it’s strange, I’m not sure what I think” to “love” or “nothing special” to “hmm, it’s kind of interesting” but I don’t remember in the last 5 years changing my mind from “don’t like” to “need a bottle.”
Chamade works for me in extrait concentration – have you tried it? It feels better in development than the EDT version.
You’re right. That’s a great idea! Extrait is a good recommendation for me. I like fragrances that are “dense” yet stay close, and I like to dab sparingly. I’m going to add the extrait to my “try” list, especially since there are several fragrances like Chamade that I keep going back to. There must be something there I like.
I had a good long look at your infographic to see how readily I could assimilate the info – my professional involvement stats being so long ago – and was pleased to note that I spotted the travel bottle duration to purchase spike right off the bat! Which was gratifying when I came to read your own interpretation. ;)
To answer the question – and it is the sketchiest of hunches – I think it is a mixture of love at first sniff and growers. Then apart from the early days of my hobby, I mostly take a long time to purchase, to the point where sometimes I don’t care for the scent so much by the time I get round to buying it. Now that is worrying! I think it is a minority phenomenon, thankfully. Maybe I am confusing the timeframe and I started to love the bottles a little less *later*. Even if I went through them now one by one, I am not sure I could recall all their individual history, but I find the question fascinating. I do also have some solid ‘love at first sniffers’ that have remained so. ;)
Glad to hear about the rain and wishing you some more.
We got one more good rain today – I’m happy :)
I’m glad the chart was readable on its own: I always have doubts as to how much to explain to both be clear and not to insult my readers’ intelligence. With travel bottles for “loved” perfumes it’s an interesting phenomenon. I think the explanation for it is twofold: not that many brands make travel bottles and for perfumes I love it’s so much easier to talk myself into buying a bottle :)
I’ll review in future how many of the “love at first sniff”s that joined my collection are still “loves.”
Hi Undina. Mmm interesting, it did make me think about my behaviour which has no statistical verification whatsoever. I’m definitely a love at first sniff buyer. Although that doesn’t mean that I immediately purchase it, I often take my time or wait until I’m on a trip as I find those perfumes usually have more meaning to me. I have also blind bought without sniffing and have had instant loves in that way, most notably with Vera’s Rozy. Saying that I have definitely had some growers too. But I’m getting better now at realising if something is a like not a love, because I made this mistake far too often at the beginning.
I completely swore off any blind buys larger than 5 ml (buying which from splits seem more economically sound than buying smaller samples) and trying hard not to buy perfumes that I just like because it takes me away not just from buying other perfumes I love but from wearing those that I already have.
Patience has no bearing in my world. If I want it, I’ll buy it immediately. However, I have looked at my collection and decided that it is too big and that I really need to scale back and quit buying. Thus far this year, I have only made a couple small purchases on eBay which I can live with. But typically, my love will not bloom, but love will be immediate and then die out. I think that’s called “fickle.”
And finally, I’ll send you some rain as it’s been a gloomy winter here, if you send me some warmer temperatures and some dry air :)
Definitely let’s swap! You can take a month-worth of warm weather and dry air and send my way all the rain (or even snow for our mountains) ;)
I remember about your impatience in buying perfumes you want. The question is: do you always want (and buy) only perfumes that you loved from the first time you smelled them? Or do you want/buy (also) perfumes that at some point before you weren’t impressed with but later changed your mind?
I’m pretty sure most of my collection was bought on love (or very strong affection) at first sight. :)
That said, I actually do have some perfumes in my collection that I hated and then couldn’t live without them (Shalimar most notably).
I still … ok, not hate but strongly dislike Shalimar. I should be careful! :)
I would say that most of my full bottles have been cautious purchases lingering in my head for quite some time. It took me two years to get my parfum version of Vol de Nuit! Quite a few bottles have been the result of a sample sent to me by a scent buddy.
My stumbling block is TK Maxx. I believe it’s called TJ Maxx in the US. When I see a Penhaligon’s or L’ Artisan Parfumeur there I tend to buy it thinking about the whopping discount, then regret it when I get home and open the hardcore plastic packaging. MUST stop doing that…
Now I’m glad that our TJ Max carries only mainstream perfumes! Because I’m not sure I would be able to resist L’Artisan or Penhaligon’s – even though I’m not a huge fan of those brands.
Hope you get some more rain soon, that drought business is indeed pretty scary.
As always your statistics are entertaining and I see that almost everybody thinks about their purchases except possibly the Hound who appears to be an impulsive shopper.
I’m a mix. I will buy something on sight and even unsmelled if I know what it is and think the price is right. Flea markets and estate sales and yard sales are my downfalls. I love those. I also love antique stores.
Not too many flea markets/antique stores selling perfumes around here – or I could have been more in the blind buy camp. But, from what I remember, you’re quite unique with your perfume wearing habits: you actually finish bottles!
Hey there Undina,
My buying is so varied. So many things I can’t get here I buy while traveling or sample and buy online. I am also an impulse buyer at times too.
Things I can get here I often don’t buy immediately because they are so available, or an SA was rude or stupid, and I’ll wait till another opportunity presents itself.
Doing you a cyber rain dance.
I wouldn’t expect anything less from you! :) (and I would definitely NOT buy anything from a rude SA!)
(joins Portia in a cyber rain dance)
These stats are so amazing. I’m impressed by the time it takes for you to buy – those are really well thought out purchases! I’ve hardly purchased anything, so I’m not really sure what my style is – or maybe that is my style – the non-purchaser. :) At least, for now. But I’m still young (as a perfumista, that is)!
I should say that you’ve got a good start. The next year-two will be hard for you – especially if you can afford to buy perfume. I’m not sure if it can be prevented, but most perfumistas on the onset of their hobbies tend to buy perfumes for wrong reasons. If you can help it, stick to buying decants until you know – not even your tastes but the development of your reaction to perfumes better. You’ll end up with a better and more enjoyable collection.
Not to worry my friend, it won’t happen again for another 165 years!
That’s a long dry down, no?
Thank you. I’m keeping my fingers crossed ;)