Saturday Question: Have You Ever Had a Significant Perfume Break?

Undina: Today your host is Narth.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #47:

Have You Ever Had a Significant Perfume Break?

Is your relationship with fragrance different now?

Narth’s Answer

I once had a long perfume break, a break that lasted several years. I still wore perfume during portions of this break but I stopped paying attention to it. I spent some time blankly applying old favourites I didn’t have to choose (I have gone through at least seven bottles of Stella). I went weeks, months, where I would often forget to wear anything at all. If I did return, briefly, to the land of fragrance it would be oddly pragmatic, a Body Shop cream or an inexpensive soap. Most tellingly, I no longer found myself thinking about every scent on my morning walk. The eucalyptus, Daphne, onion grass and possum piss no longer occupied my senses, they just smelled. Was I depressed? Maybe. Probably. Yes. I also listened to less music, ignored art entirely and took comfort in very simple food. I felt guilty because I no longer cared.

I spent many years on a perfume forum and the words of one poster who “quit” perfume kept coming back to me. “It’s only bottles of water”. Was I going to end up there, looking at my expensive and too vast collection of liquids with dismay? I didn’t want to think about that so I didn’t think at all.

I wish I could remember how I emerged from this funk. This would be a better story if on the way to buy something dull, ramekins perhaps, I paused in front of an unfamiliar bottle of fragrance and impulsively sprayed it. My senses awakened! My brain fired neurons! Words I’d not used in years appeared before me, ecstatically vibrating their essence… vervain, vetiver, vintage, vamp. Oh I wish I had this story and a fragrance I could affectionately thank for bringing me home. But it wasn’t like that. Music and perfume and making crazy food feasts just started happening again, inexplicably. For a while, I was fearful these interests would again drift away. I’ve realized too that interests, like friendships, have to be nurtured even when we feel blah about them. Perfume and humans can not be reduced to “bottles of water”.

Pot Pourri, 1897 (oil on canvas)

MAA181779 Pot Pourri, 1897 (oil on canvas) by Draper, Herbert James (1864-1920); 50.8×68.5 cm; Private Collection; Photo © The Maas Gallery, London; English, out of copyright

How about you?

 

Have You Ever Had a Significant Perfume Break?

47 thoughts on “Saturday Question: Have You Ever Had a Significant Perfume Break?

  1. Hi Narth
    This has been my situation since I’ve been working from home and not mixing with people. I’ve hardly worn perfume for pleasure since last March.
    I wouldn’t say I’ve lost my interest in it though. I still like reading the blogs and writing myself which helps. I’m just out of the habit of wearing it because I’m indoors the whole time. I need to create a new habit and put a little on once I’m dressed. I’ll do that today now you’ve prompted me.
    Oh and Stella was great back in the day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tara I hadn’t realized how much I wore perfume as a way to interact with the world until we were in lockdown for months and not allowed to go more than 5km or interact with people. It was an interesting revelation.

      Liked by 2 people

    • It’s fascinating how different we all are: I was “repressed” for so long in which perfumes and how lightly applied I could wear them to the office that I welcomed the ability to wear it as much as I wanted to once we started working from home.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Narth, I can relate. A few years ago I was very depressed for about a year (all fixed now, thanks to modern medicine!). I lost interest in everything, including perfume. I hated myself for having spent (wasted) so much money on my vast collection, and at my worst I wanted everything gone – as some kind of self-punishment or “clean slate” obsession (I did sell a few dozen bottles, which I mostly now regret).

    During that year, just to make sure I didn’t stink or anything, but not wanting to make any daily perfume decisions, I just chose just one fragrance to spray before leaving the house: a pristine 100ml tester bottle of Fidji. I calculated that such a pretty, delicate and familiar scent would be something I wouldn’t get sick of – and I was right: I used it all up! (nb: finishing a bottle is an extremely rare thing around here).

    I haven’t worn Fidji since then, but I don’t think I’ve been left with a bad association. Fidji got me through!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Christine I think that’s great, that you had that one perfume that was always there for you. I know when I was not doing well perfume was an easy thing to recriminate myself over. Fortunately for perfume there were bigger things LOL (one must joke at this point). Losing loves is a terrible thing about depression. I do feel like I need to nurture my interests the same way I need to nurture friendships now that I’ve seen they can be cruelly lost.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great question, Narth!

    And what a line about daphne and possums-thanks for that!

    I’m 48, and I don’t think I ever took a long break from it. If I have a headache I won’t wear it, but even when I teach yoga I have a spritz of Chanel eau de cologne, or Guerlain Fleurs de Cedrat. The times when I was depressed I turned to the perfume community to feel better-I find perfume people are just the nicest people on the planet.

    I think you’re right about having to nurture our interests. And while I take your friend’s point, about the fumes being just scented water, that’s like saying art is just paint on paper. I think perfume is an art :)

    Carole

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh I like that so much, I would NEVER say art is just paint on paper! And yet that’s exactly what the bottles of water commentary says. I think it was said from a place of looking at all the money spent on liquid that isn’t something others necessarily appreciate. I mean art, people can see it, wine (another liquid) someone will drink it, perfume? It’s your very personal hobby hidden away in a closet to protect it from the light.

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      • Narthscent, I remember the Annick Goutal fragrance samples came on a pretty card, and it said,” perfume is a shared pleasure’ and I think that’s true. You smell great, people around you respond. Bring up a classic fragrance, like Chanel 5, and you will remember someone who wore it :)

        Liked by 2 people

        • As a person who always said “I wear perfume for myself” it was interesting to realize that there’s another dimension to it I hadn’t paid much attention to.

          Like

  4. I find that I’ve been wearing actual fragrance a bit less as I’ve been working from home for longer and longer. At first, I gleefully seized the opportunity to wear fragrances that might be less “office-friendly” during the day, and spritz a little more than I would if going to my office. I enjoyed doing that, but I think the election season dampened my daily interest, because I felt distracted and often actually forgot to pull out a perfume as part of my morning ritual. Taking part in things like NST’s weekly “community projects” has reminded me, but not daily. Keeping up with the blogs I read, like this one, has also prompted me to use samples; and I have a new subscription that sends me one decant a month. Writing at least weekly on my own blog also provides some fragrance-wearing regularity, especially when a reader comments about something I haven’t tried, or haven’t worn in a while.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was gleeful at the beginning of lockdown too, i intended to give all my many decants a proper go. Took notes. Made plans. Then.. it all faded away. I read a lot of books initially as well but that too kind of disappeared. I feel committed to not letting these things happen if we get locked down again and I’m aware it will take some emotional and mental work to achieve that. Falling into a slump is my natural direction, no frantic baking and ‘chieving for me LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. No, I’ve never taken a break from perfumes, except when I was forced to be without perfume because I was in the hospital. I got very depressed in 2020, but the perfume was one thing that helped me deal with it. I sprayed LOTS of perfume last year and it’s continuing into 2021.

    Sometimes I’ll lose interest in a particular perfume for a good while and then when I try it again I find that I appreciate its beauty even more after a hiatus.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s always wonderful, when you rediscover a love that’s been sitting in your closet that you thought you were over. Sometimes I’ve had things that were SO much better than I remembered!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s possible that I did, back in 1993-1994 when I had a nervous breakdown. I don’t remember if I wore perfume during that time but I think probably not, all I remember is lying on the couch reading books, which was all I could do during that period. Aside from that I have always worn something.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I feel like something always goes during depression and/or crisis. Often many somethings. It’s a struggle to hang onto those parts of ourselves. It’s great you could lose yourself in books, in this era I’m sadly more likely to lose myself in endless scrolling.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t taken a break from perfume—during bad times in my life when I felt I had no control over anything around me, perfume was one thing I could choose for myself and express. With music, though, I have found that I’d inadvertently go through long periods without it, and start listening again when I realized that, because music certainly helps to boost the mood.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Not what you’d call a ‘significant break’, but I am quite haphazard about wearing perfume these days, due to the lockdown, much as I am about putting make up on, getting dressed – and even, very occasionally, washing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I confess during our lockdown I pretty much wore the same thing every day. I have several pairs of each item, it was comfy, and that was it for months. Like Albert Einstein I told myself (hahaha, no). I am not a “clothes” person so this wasn’t too big a shift and I have no regrets about that behavioral change that lockdown brought.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey Narth,
    I haven’t had a major break, as such.
    About 17 or 18 years ago I did give almost all my bottles away and test if I could wear one inexpensive perfume for a whole year. I was afraid that perfume was becoming an obsession and didn’t know that it was a thing. I’d also not yet found the scentbloggosphere or even fragrantica. The fragrance was Sunflowers by Elizabeth Arden.
    I did the exercise, my life was no less full or satisfying for it but I really enjoyed the ease and predictability. There’s still a 30ml here that gets the occasional reminiscent wear, and I enjoy it for itself and the memories.
    Then I went back to collecting.
    Portia x

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know I have the collector gene and I’ve consciously stopped myself from other collections in the, now distant, past. I feel like if I had tried your Sunflowers experiment I’d start compulsively collecting something else. In a different space now though and happy to just have perfume as the one constant acquisition. I do buy books as well but that’s quite under control not to mention cheaper!

      I hope you didn’t give away anything you miss :)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Narth,
        I have collected a bunch of things over the years. Travelling meant I always had access to amazing stuff and wanted it ALL. Fabric, Books, Dinner services, Music, Art, Shoes and Socks have been among my manias.
        When we sold the big house I gave most of it away to friends and charity. Kept only a core fraction of everything.
        Now my only three real manias are perfume (including shower gels and soaps), travel and food.
        That’s enough for anyone to be going on with.

        I did give away my Mum’s perfume collection to friends, which I should have kept at least one. They used them up and it was nice to smell them on the crew for a couple of years. Happy memories and reminiscences whenever they did.
        Portia xx

        Liked by 2 people

        • You have a good attitude Portia, it’s hard to not regret giving things away. A few times I’ve regretted having lost something sentimental I’ve bought the same thing again and reminded myself it was the memories, not the actual item. Now I’m okay about “things” for the most part.

          I’d put myself at perfume, travel, food as well. REALLY miss the travel, and the food opportunities there. I buy almost nothing when I travel though. I have a collection of usually cheap beaded bracelets bought in markets and temples that remind me of where I’ve been and that I wear all the time in varying combinations. I enjoy the simplicity of it. There’s a few areas I could go very overboard with so I guess I’m all or nothing in a way.

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            • aww.. that’s so great Portia! I love them, they all have memories of places and people. My neighbour once bought me a little one in an op shop, just spontaneously, and it’s in my rotation. I look at it and think of friendship. And then there’s ones bought on top of mountains.. they honestly bring me a lot of joy. I wouldn’t trade them for gold bangles :D

              Like

  10. I cannot remember pausing to wear scent. Even before the rabbit hole I wore one of my few scents daily. Would not have left the house unscented. Now I spend more time pondering each morning what to wear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Tanja I find that is quite time consuming, can’t believe how long I can spend thinking about it! Then sometimes I just grab something, and that can lead to regret. I get in a bit of a muddle sometimes.

      Like

  11. Do you know what I liked about this question the most? I’ve never thought about it! It’s a great question!

    But before I answer it, I want to comment on the “It’s only bottles of water” comment: what a BS! Unless we’re talking about the I Hate Perfume or one of a several other similar conceptual brands, there is absolutely no water in perfumes! ;)

    I don’t think I’ve ever changed the current-at-the-time pattern of wearing perfumes. I didn’t always wear perfume every day: back when I was a signature-scent-type wearer, it was extremely hard and expensive to get that Perfume, so I wore it only for special occasions. Later, when I’ve added one or two less special perfumes, they still were a luxury, so even those I wore once in a while. And only after I moved to the U.S. and accumulated enough perfumes not to save those that I had for special occasions, I started wearing them every day. But in all these years I don’t remember any periods of not doing perfume-wise what was “regular wear” for me at that time.

    I can’t even claim that wearing perfume plays any significant role in my day-to-day life. I mean, I enjoy it, but it doesn’t affect my mood or make me feel somehow special. Not wearing it would be something that would upset me. It’s a little bit like washing my face, brushing my teeth or applying a moisturizer: it’s something that I do.

    I do skip wearing perfumes when I’m not physically well, and I assume I’d do the same if I were in a strong distress. Luckily, until now I haven’t had such situations for significant stretch of time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I wrote that I thought to myself “someone is going to correct the fallacy of perfume being made up of H2O :D

      I have forgotten more times than I care to remember and it always bothers me. Bothers me if I forget my bracelets as well @australianperfumejunkies . I have one bracelet in my bag that I will wear if I’ve forgotten but I don’t always do well with decants because when I have taken them with me I might not feel wearing that scent. Lately though I’ve had a bottle of Guerlain L’HOmme Ideal cologne just tossed in, I’ve used up half of it and I’m always happy to wear it in any weather and setting. It also works well to spray something over the top of hours later.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Nope. Never had a perfume break. Something every day, even if just a dab. And whilst we are here I have, thanks to an awesome friend – John Grant tickets for the end of September. Do you have an Instagram Narth? xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • OOOo that’s wonderful, I am SO Happy for you. He is the best best best person to see in concert! I was tempted to post the photo I have with him at the end, we both look quite mad and he has his tongue out.. but I’ve never posted a pic of myself so didn’t want to start. It was wonderful to meet him, a very gracious man. And I’m babbling. My instagram is eatmyfeeling :D It’s 95% food.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I have never not worn perfume, through the worst and best of times it has been a constant. When I was young and had little income I still managed to pay off on a bottle or two and there were fragrant body sprays aplenty. Being out of the office for most of last year meant I could spray myself silly, even more trigger happy than normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Narth. On the whole I’d say no to you question if we calculate from After Falling Into the Rabbit Hole.
    During lockdown I feel my answer matching Vanessa’s exactly.
    I did have a time before I found the perfume forums though. I had always been wearing perfume, but i moved counties, ran out of my favourites and found that my most beloved perfumes had been dc’ed. The new perfumes were not for me, and it took me a few years before I found the online community and my first Serge Lutens 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m curious what was dc’d! It’s true that it can feel like there’s a big gap in perfume, until you realize there’s more to perfume than the department store.

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  15. Since falling into the rabbit hole, I have not had a major or even a minor break with perfume. It’s part of the routine everyday but it doesn’t feel routine because there are many perfumes from which to choose. In COVID times, I have been wearing 8 sprays of my SOTD and there are no regrets whatsoever because I wear it for myself. Even on occasions when I know I will be with someone who pretends to be scent-phobic, I try to keep the peace by wearing the perfume at least an hour beforehand and choose the lightest gourmand so I can always blame it on hand cream or what I had for breakfast.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Bottles of water… Ha! Ha! Interesting post, Narth. I’ve gone through phases where I’m not as into fragrances due to a variety of factors. Some of which you mention. More often, though I’ve made a conscious decision not to wear anything for a few days. A mini-break, as such, so that I appreciate them more.

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