How to choose a perfume to suit your personality

how to choose a perfume

Finding a fragrance other then the one perfume you have been using 'all your life' can be a daunting task.  Walking into a store that sells perfume can be quite overwhelming if you have no idea where to start, or what you are looking for, so after loads of research, trial and error, I finally have some practical tips to help you choose a perfume with ease.




According to 'Demeter' fragrances the building blocks of fragrance are called "notes" or " accords". The terms mean the same thing: the smallest combination of ingredients that represents an identifiable, usable smell. For simplicity, we will just refer to them as notes.

Notes have special characteristics: they express their scented nature immediately and do not change over time. 

Notes are the ingredients that a master perfumer uses to make more complex prestige fragrances, whether designer, celebrity or artisanal. By " complex", we generally mean:

1. Fragrances that contain many different notes and ingredients, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, and;

2. Fragrances whose smell changes over time. Different notes express their scent after different periods of time. The "dry down", or changes in complex scents that we experience, are the different notes naturally expressing themselves at different lengths of time.

We generally break notes into three broad categories:

  • Top
  • Middle
  • Base

A complex fragrance is normally made up of notes from each of the three groups and unfolds over time.

Top Notes: These are expressed immediately on the application of a perfume, and evaporate quickly.
Top notes form the initial impression of a perfume.
Middle Notes: Also known as the "Heart" of a complex fragrance, these emerge just prior to the dissipation of the top note. These notes form the main body of a perfume, and in complex blends, they mask the occasional unpleasant initial impression of base notes, which become more pleasant as they mellow over time.
Base Notes: These appear close to the departure of middle notes, and form the main theme of a complex fragrance. Base notes bring depth to a complex blend.  Each of the Notes are then characterized by different 'fragrance families'.

Fragrance Families

Fragrance families are a way to classify individual fragrances into groups based on their olfactory characteristics. These classifications are to help people find fragrances they might like, even when they may not be able to smell the fragrance; you know what smells you like.


The traditional classification which emerged around 1900 comprised the following categories:

  • Single Floral: Fragrances that are dominated by a scent from one particular flower; in French called a soliflore.

  • Floral Bouquet: Containing the combination of several flowers in a scent.

  • Ambery: A large fragrance class featuring the scents of vanilla and animal scents together with flowers and woods. Can be enhanced by camphorous oils and incense resins.

  • Woody: Fragrances that are dominated by woody scents, typically of sandalwood and cedar. Patchouli, with its camphoraceous smell, is commonly found in these perfumes.

  • Leather: A family of fragrances which features the scents of honey, tobacco, wood and wood tars in its middle or base notes and a scent that alludes to leather.

  • Chypre: Meaning cyprus in French, this includes fragrances built on a similar accord consisting of bergamot, oakmoss, patchouli, and labdanum. This family of fragrances is named after a perfume by Francois Coty. Pronounced: sheep-ra

  • Fougère: Meaning fern in French, built on a base of lavedner, coumarin, and oakmoss. Many men's fragrances belong to this family of fragrances, which is characterized by its sharp herbaceous and woody scent. Pronounced: foozh-air


Since 1945, due to great advances in the technology of perfume creation such as compound design and synthesis as well as the natural development of styles and tastes; new categories have emerged to describe modern scents:

  • Bright Floral: combining the traditional Single Floral and Floral Bouquet categories.

  • Green: a lighter and more modern interpretation of the Chypre type.

  • Oceanic/Ozone: the newest category in perfume history, appearing in 1991. A very clean, modern smell leading to many of the modern androgynous perfumes.

  • Citrus or Fruity: An old fragrance family that until recently consisted mainly of "freshening" eau de colognes due to the low tenacity of citrus scents. Development of newer fragrance compounds has allowed for the creation of primarily citrus fragrances.

  • Gourmand: scents with "edible" or "dessert"-like qualities. These often contain notes like vanilla and tonka bean, as well as synthetic components designed to resemble food flavors.


Without being aware we subconsciously eliminate certain fragrances from past experiences eg. You went on a cruise and the cabin fragrance was Lavender, unfortunately, you were seasick the whole holiday, chances are Lavender takes you back to that feeling so you dislike the smell of Lavender.  Because of these subconscious links you may or may not be aware of, it would be a good idea to make a list of all the fragrances you like or dislike.  Take note of the smells around you as you go if there is something you like or dislike add it to the list.  This will give you a good idea of the fragrance families you should probably to stay away from.


What is your STYLE PERSONALITY if you are not sure what your style personality is you can find more information HERE.  Perfumes can be categorized by style, creative, dramatic elegant etc.  You can use this in two ways if you are introvert (classic)you would probably wear a softer perfume but, if you would like to make a statement you could wear a perfume that makes you feel powerful (dramatic).  And that's what makes perfume so wonderful to play with!


Where do you spend most of your time are you office based or outdoors what is your profession?  Taking note of this will help select a good balance of perfumes should you prefer more than one, and an appropriate perfume for the place you spend most of your time, for example, an overpowering perfume should be saved for an evening out and not the office.


If you are all about making it visual like me, this is a great option.  You can type in fragrance/ smell, brands, even places (there may be a fragrance you love from a place you visited) in the search and pin all the pics that appeal to you, after a while you should see a distinct pattern and this should also help you find a direction or fragrance family (it's your subconscious telling you whats right for you without you even realizing it).


Head to and do the quiz (free and no opt-in), at the end it gives you a few ideas of what perfumes may suit you, I thought this was a good start why not take it in store with you to see how accurate it is.


  • Understand the basics of a perfume what are notes and fragrance families
  • List the fragrances you like and dislike
  • Determine your style personality
  • Think about your lifestyle and an appropriate perfume/s to match
  • Make a fragrance board on Pinterest or any board with magazine clippings
  • Take the online fragrance quiz

All this research should equip you with enough information to give the assistant at the fragrance counter, a good idea of what to select for you to try.  Keep in mind that 'nose fatigue' is a real thing so keep to trying three fragrances at a time. 

Let me know how accurate the quiz was for you!

I love hearing from you, if you have any feedback, suggestions or questions please comment below and If you enjoyed this post and know someone who could do with some help choosing a perfume please share it with them by clicking on the share button below.

Thank you for visiting The Imagepreneur, my name is Darlene Bayley I am a qualified personal stylist, business and brand strategist and Confidence builder, for more information about the services or courses I provide click HERE  or follow me on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK for daily style inspiration.