Saturday Question: How Far in Advance Do You Plan What to Wear?

Today I have this question/discussion topic and an idea to share with you.


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #90:

How Far in Advance Do You Plan What to Wear?

When do you decide what you are going to wear? On the day? The night before? What about perfumes for occasions (birthdays, family gatherings, etc.)?

Do you ever plan your perfume wardrobe several days in advance, for several days? (Trips don’t count!)

My Answer

I used to lie in bed the night before, mentally going through my whole collection (year, there were times when I could do that) and deciding on what perfume I’d use in the morning. As my collection grew, I switched to the stare-at-my-collection-in-the-morning method, which worked for a while but became less reliable once my perfumes filled in the shelves so that those boxes that are stored farther from the front are harder not only to get to but also to see. But better or worse, it still worked: I had to make a choice before leaving the house.

Then I started working from home, and my schedule changed so that I would have my meetings earlier than I would like to, so more and more often I would go commando (perfume-wise) for a couple of hours in the morning planning to figure out what to wear later… and more and more often my work takes over, and I keep going scent-free for the most of the day. And then I have to decide whether I want to apply perfume to wear or would rather test something new.

So, I just decided to make it easier for me this holidays season: I will make an Advent Calendar with 24 perfumes to wear in December. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll do daily or weekly posts: it might be too hard in addition to doing my planned countdown to Rusty’s birthday on Instagram, but I might still try.

Will you join me? I’m sharing this idea in advance – so that you have enough time to make your own calendar. You can do it from really simple to extremely fancy. 24 envelopes with written numbers, optionally decorated. Or Ziploc bags with decants/samples wrapped in some colorful tissue paper. Or one of those DIY sets from a craft store or Amazon. If you do not have a smaller decant or sample for the perfume you plan to wear, you can write down the name and put it into the bag or box. Alternatively, you can choose 24 samples that you want to try (again) and place them in random order into those bags – so, it’ll be kind of a surprise.

Advent Calendars


How Far in Advance Do You Plan What to Wear?

Saturday Question: What Are Your Top 5 Amber Perfumes?

This is that time of the year again when the weather in the most places of the Northern Hemisphere unequivocally suggests wearing heavier and more opulent perfumes. Are you ready?

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #89:

What Are Your Top 5 Amber Perfumes?

Not of all times, not the best creations ever, but just those that you think you will especially enjoy in the next couple of months?

For my readers on the opposite side of the World, do you have summer ambers?

My Answer

I love amber perfumes and have enough of those in my perfume wardrobe. But I often wait too long for the perfect weather – and then the season is gone before I could fully enjoy them. So, this year I decided to try and enjoy all of my favorite ambers. And I’m starting with these five:

  • By Kilian Amber Oud
  • Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan
  • Bvlgari Black
  • Ormonde Jayne Tolu
  • EnVoyage Perfumes Captured in Amber

Rusty and Captured in Amber

What Are Your Top 5 Amber Perfumes?

Tabu Bath and Shower Gel

Hey Crew, yes, we are going to talk about one of my all time favourite cheap thrills. I bloody love it and when FragranceNet has it for under US$4 with coupon and I’m already buying something fro them. You can bet your ass that I’m getting a few of these beauties too. You’ll all remember Tabu the perfume? Right. Almost all of us had a teacher, neighbour, Aunt, Mum or someone one close that would smother you in Tabu hugs whenever they saw you. Well, I had a few. It was the scent of soft flesh, strong arms and loving kisses for me. I had no idea it was cheap and it always smelled fabulously textural to me. Now one of my regular Trivia players for over a decade who has now become a friend wears it so beautifully. I go in and snuggle her till she squeaks. Breathing in great gouts of gorgeous Tabu.

Tabu Bath & Shower Gel

Originally from 1932 Tabu is a great example of the perfumed kitchen sinker. It still is but quite a lot of the original notes have been eschewed in modern times or are simply not available anymore. So we have what’s left, buoyed with created molecules to give a modern smell of a fabulous antique. It’s not exactly the same but it’s still extremely good value if you love a spicy amber floral (Yep, I sure do). Sadly, on me the modern perfume is quite overwhelming and after about an hour or seven I just want to smell like something else.

Enter the Tabu Bath & Shower Gel. Really just the main notes: spices, cloves, amber, and hints of others. It’s a perfect base layer for anything vanilla, amber, spicy, resinous or even incense. It bubbles so richly and fragrantly in the bath and leaves my skin with the softest breath of Tabu dry down. The perfect amount of Tabu for me. Also, it’s basically FREE so I don’t sweat using it.

Tabu Bath & Shower Gel is also the best stocking filler. It’s the perfect value add to the main present and I guarantee that they’ll love the fragrance. I’ve been known to take it as my travelling shower gel also. It smells 100x more luxurious than its cost would imply.

You’re welcome,
Portia xx


Scent Semantics #1: BRAVE

Introducing a new collaboration of six bloggers: Portia (A Bottled Rose), Elena (The Plum Girl), Sheila (Alembicated Genie), Daisy (Cool Cook Style blog and IG), Old Herbaceous (Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities) and Undina (Undina’s Looking Glass).

Once a month, one of us will be selecting a word (any part of speech representing an emotion, color, flavor, etc.), and we all will try to come up with a scent that we can connect to/associate with that word. We’re not limited by any particular format, so expect anything from a New-Yorker-cartoon-style picture caption to a War-and-Peace-type piece of writing (and everything in between).

Scent Semantics Project Banner

I agreed to participate in this project only because I love group efforts, AND it was Portia who organized it – how can anyone refuse? But I’m beyond bad in paring anything with anything. Nevertheless, I’m here, so let’s try.

* * *

This month’s word is: BRAVE

Unexpectedly, this one came easy.

Vol de Nuit was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1933, according to mentioning in different sources, inspired by the title of the book by his friend, Antoine de Saint Exupéry.

Vol de Nuit, both in its extrait and EdT versions, had been reformulated since then, probably more than once, which we all got used to. What amazed me beyond any words (well, I found some once the first reaction subsided) was that now marketers and brands reformulate not only perfumes and their stories but also classical literature.

My search for Vol de Nuit extrait (it seems no stores carry it now in the US) brought me to Harrods, where I discovered the following:

Vol de Nuit description at Harrods

the story of love and romance”? Have we read the same novel? I won’t argue “spicy musks” since for all I know we smelled different versions. But I question a blanket statement “the first years of aviation” (but that time aviation in general was quite well established). But at least they still mention the Art Deco aspect of the bottle design.

And then I decided to check the brand’s site. I don’t think they read the book at all:

Vol de Nuit Description at Guerlain site

Just in case you don’t remember or haven’t read the book yet, without giving away too much, I’d like to mention that the flight central for the story takes place on the route from Patagonia to Buenos Aires; it’s a storm, not a tornado, that plays an important role during the flight; there is nothing sudden in losing radio contact; and, finally, the pilot is flying towards his loved one (though, alright, let’s issue a poetic license here).

Night Flight is a story of bravery, bravery demonstrated not just by pilots who flew those early planes, but also radio engineers who accompanied them to keep communications going between the plane and airports, and even by those on the ground making decisions that influenced not only the lives of people who worked for them, their own careers but also the progress itself. It’s not war-time heroism we grew up appreciating and almost expecting, regardless of the cultures we were brought up in. It’s ordinary, almost prosaic courage that still would deeply impress you if you muse about it for a while.

What about perfume, you might ask? I hoped one day to try the current version again and, if it’s still recognizable, buy Vol de Nuit extrait during my trip to France or the UK. But with all the recent changes with Guerlain perfumes (and considering their attitude towards both their brand’s history and their national literally treasure), I started thinking that maybe I should brave international shipping from Harrods while that beautiful Art Deco propeller bottle is still available?

Guerlain Vol de Nuit

Please visit other participants (links in the opening paragraph) to see what associations for the word “Brave” they came up with. And return in a month for the second episode of this joint project.

Saturday Question: What is the Spookiest Perfume You’ve Ever Tried?

I used to like Halloween. Even though we stopped dressing up and having parties with friends for those years that didn’t fall on a weekend, I would usually do some decorations and wear some Halloween-related pieces to the office. Last year was the first one when we didn’t decorate our house either inside or outside, and we didn’t have any candies ready for rare even at better times flocks of costumed children. This year, even though the restrictions are less severe than they were in 2020, and Halloween falls on Sunday, I don’t plan to do anything. I feel somewhat burnt out. But if not to count these last two years, I think that Halloween is a nice tradition, so I’ll use this post to make at least a slight nod to the occasion.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #88:

What is the Spookiest Perfume You’ve Ever Tried?

Are there any perfumes that scare you, be that being too loud, striking you as extremely unpleasant or just causing an uncontrolled shiver down your spine for any reason?

When was the last time you’ve experienced it? Do you think you’ll ever try it again?

My Answer

Oriza L. Legrand Chypre Mousse, hands down, is the worst offender: it was so unpleasant on my skin, that I still shudder just from the thought of it. I think that probably about the half of my current readers (I mean, those who participate in these weekly posts) haven’t been around when I did a post about it (The Royal Nonesuch of Perfume), and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to them because I think it would resonate with many – not specifically about this perfume, since I know that many people still like it, but in general, the way it feels sometimes when we try something highly praised by everybody and find ourselves hating it.

I sent my decant off into the world about 4 years and hope to never experience it again. If the whole perfume industry collapses, and that perfume would be the last bottle of perfume in the World, I would not try it again in a hope to change my mind because I still remember how hard it was to scrub it off.

How about you?

What is the Spookiest Perfume You’ve Ever Tried?

Rusty and Halloween Candies

Happy Halloween 2021!

Saturday Question: What 5 Brands Do You Always Test?

All of us who has been into this hobby for a while are at least a little jaded: it’s not that easy to attract our attention, we have everything and then some, and when it comes to getting interested in trying anything new and unknown, we are not the easiest audience. But today I’m asking not about brand-new brands (pun? probably somewhat) that are growing like mushrooms or established brands spawning new lines trying to cover a larger or different market.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #87:

What 5 Brands Do You Always Test?

You might love and own a dozen of perfumes by Guerlain. But do you follow all of their new releases? You might adore classic Miss Dior, but do you know what was the last perfume from Dior? L’Artisan Parfumeur… Who?

What I mean is: regardless of the “past performance” and presence of the brand in your perfume wardrobe, are there any brands new releases from which you follow diligently and try to get your nose on? Name up to five such brands, if you can think of that many.

My Answer

There are just two brands that are still on my radar no matter what: Amouage and Puredistance. With these two I do make an effort to get to try all of their releases. This loyalty has a couple of components: first, I have multiple perfumes created by these two brands that I love or strongly like, so with each next release I hope that the new one will be as great as the earlier ones (or better!). And the second reason, I suspect, is that I could never sample them at a store, so I’m used to paying for samples from these brands. But since the hit/miss ratio with them was great, at least for a while, I feel more inclined to “risk” it.

There last three brands that I always test are Tom Ford, Jo Malone and Atelier Cologne. But, at least partially, it’s a factor of convenience: I have a relatively easy access to them from local stores. So, I think that I tried all perfumes from these brands in the last, let’s say, 5 years. I do like these brands and have many favorites from them. But I’m not 100% sure I would have been pursuing them with the same rigor if I had to pay for all those samples. Though I still might have…

What about you?


What 5 Brands Do You Always Test?

Vacation in the Time of COVID-19: Episode IV, Hawaii Big Island – Flowers

This work week was so packed with words (I wrote 17 pages of documentation and edited another 50 written by others) that at this point I’m all “worded out” (I promise to find some for the Saturday Question post tomorrow), but I want to share with you the next set of photos from my becoming more and more distant recent vacation.

Pictures of these beautiful, strange and unusual tropical flowers I collected just in one day (and I’m showing not even all!). I wonder if you can figure out which of them is a torch flower, a rattle snake flower or a cat’s whiskers flower.



Images: my own

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Subscription Service

Hi there crew. Many of you are already familiar with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and her DSH Perfumes. Did you know though that she now has the coolest HEIRLOOM ELIXIR Limited Editions :: Subscription Service? Yep. It’s fabulous. You can order 1, 3 or 6 sets that come with 3ml of the bi-monthly heirloom release and samples of other interesting DSH smellables. I want to tell you about my personal favourite from my subscription. Don’t get excited it’s now discontinued. There will be more fabulously amazing things coming in the future though, never fear.

Giardini Segreti arrived last year, I sniffed it, loved it and put it into the To Be Reviewed Immediately box. Where it sat for a year or more! DAMN IT!

Giardini Segreti, Heirloom Elixir Limited Edition by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

WHOA! Straight out of the gate a thick, rich, buried my head in a fully flowering bush of gardenia standing right next to a hedge of flowering jasmine and under a blooming tree of Murraya paniculata at about 9pm. Intoxicating and rich but not an overpowering circus show. Here we have all the fragrance but after the first minute it’s muted and floats effortlessly alongside and around you like a sheer white floral nimbus. As we hit the heart I’m tantalised by a thick, creamy butter and a very slightly feral honeyed sweetness. This stuff is seriously gorgeous.

Even two to three hours later I’m still getting lovely wafts of sensual white flowers and I think it might be sandalwood. So good.

Giardini Segreti or Secret Garden is devoted to those spring bursts of flowering and scented miracles abuzz with bees.

I particularly love that this OTT scent is not a room stinker. I am beautifully fragrant but it stays close. Giardini Segreti is just for me, and those I allow close.

I’m thinking this might be a terrific gift for any perfumista in your life. $27 for a set is very reasonable. What a fun surprise they’d get.

Portia xx



Saturday Question: Do You Travel Light?

Following my yesterday’s post on perfumes I took with me to the recent trip to Hawaii, I decided to ask you about your packing habits when it comes to bringing perfumes.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #86:

Do You Travel Light?

I know, the last 18 months weren’t great for trips, but before we completely forget how it was in the “old normal,” let’s talk about it. How many perfumes do you usually bring with you? Do you take full bottles, travel bottles, decants or samples? Do you have a set of perfumes that travel with you to specific/all locations, or is it something different every time?

My Answer

Normally, I take with me about 2 perfumes per day away plus a scent to wear on a plane. I don’t wear all perfumes that I bring, but I like to have a choice. For each trip I select perfumes that I think fit the occasion. And since most of my travel destinations do not repeat (or at least that happens not too often), every time it’s something new.

Usually, I take with me decants – either those perfumes that I have in that format or those that I make from my bottles. The only place to where I bring a real bottle is Hawaii: my Bronze Goddess always travels with me there.

Hawaii trips are unique in sense that it’s almost always the same predictable weather and activities. So, I collected a whole wardrobe of tropics-suitable perfumes, and I take them with me every time I have a vacation on one of the islands. And after the last trip, to which I brought about 25 different perfumes for 8 days, I’m thinking about sticking to my “2 perfumes per day” rule in future.



Do You Travel Light?

Vacation in the Time of COVID-19: Episode III, Hawaii Big Island – Perfumes

Whenever I go to Hawaii, I take with me perfumes that I consider my tropical perfume wardrobe. Over years I kept finding more and more perfumes that I thought would be suitable for that purpose. So, each next time I had more and more contenders for my attention (and my body) on those tropical retreats.

This year I think I went a little bit overboard when packing perfumes for the trip: even not counting samples I brought to test (and didn’t!) and shared perfumes, I had more than three perfumes per day of my vacation. Considering that our “social life” (i.e.: visiting restaurants and any indoor venues) was extremely limited and our current physical shape didn’t support the twice-a-day beach visits routine we used to follow when we felt stronger, even two perfumes per day would have been a stretch. But I have so many perfumes that wait their time to join me on a trip, that I couldn’t bring myself to pare down the set. The picture below doesn’t show new samples brought for testing that I didn’t even unpack (I’ll do a post about them later, once I finish testing) and a couple of perfumes that I forgot to bring for the photo shoot.

Kona Vacation PerfumesLast year, longing for a tropical vacation that we had to cancel, I did a post on my typical perfume selection for these trips. This time in Hawaii I wore seven out of nine perfumes that were featured in that post (I didn’t re-read it until I started writing this one): Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, Ormonde Jayne Tiare and Frangipani, L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversee du Bosphore, Parfums DelRae Bois de Paradise, Byredo Bal D’Afrique and Yosh Ginger Ciao. I don’t have much new to say about these perfumes in addition to what I wrote last year (I still love them all), but I want to share that on this trip, for the first time, I smelled Ormonde Jayne’s Frangipiani side by side with live plumeria and realized how complex Frangipani was while prominently featuring this note.

In addition to these, I managed to wear Diptyque Volutes (EdT), our shared perfume for plane flights (I decanted it into a tiny roller ball bottle, so we can use it discreetly without bothering fellow-travelers), Moroccanoil Hair & Body Fragrance Mist, which together with Bronze Goddess spent the whole vacation in the fridge, and Serge Lutens La Dompteuse Encagée, which I wanted to try in tropical surroundings – and yes, I still want to get it, even though I confirmed my initial impression that its longevity in a humid hot weather wasn’t great. My vSO wore Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine (love-love-love it) and three of Tom Ford‘s perfumes (I don’t envision any of them in his full bottle collection, but they were fine as the after-the-sunset wear).


The next time I go to Hawaii, I will probably bring that exact line-up, because all of them are gorgeous in tropical weather, and each of them deserves more skin time. I don’t need any more tropical perfumes! And yet, I’m still curious… Do you have any favorite perfumes that are especially great in hot weather?


Images: my own