What's a good perfume to give a 22-year-old woman?
December 11, 2004 7:21 PM   Subscribe

I need to buy perfume for a 22 year old girl who wants me to pick it out. I have no taste, and I know whatever kind I pick out she will probably hate or it will turn out to be some sort of old lady smell. What brand is safe to go with? Bonus points if I can order it online and avoid the mall.
posted by anonymous to Shopping (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Chanel No. 5 or Vera Wang Perfume. You can got Sephora or some other store and try 'em out.
posted by riffola at 7:32 PM on December 11, 2004

Er actually that might too grown up for a 22 year old. I dunno Chanel No. 5 is timeless in my opinion. You might wanna go with *gasp* Tommy Girl or some such ilk if her tastes are not yet mature enough to appreciate finer things in life.
posted by riffola at 7:36 PM on December 11, 2004

My 22 year old girlfriend responds: Clinique Happy or Heart would be good. Ralph Lauren Romance is good, more sophisticated and intense, and definitely wintery, does not go well with sweatiness. CK One "is also really popular with our age group." She says Chanel No. 5 is way old ladyish and to "dump her if she likes that shit" but of course that's up to you.
posted by rustcellar at 7:37 PM on December 11, 2004

When I wore scents, I was always partial to the 'fruit' Body Shop perfumes. Mango was a nice one IMHO.

You do have to be careful however as some scents that smell nice in the bottle can be not so pleasant depending on one's body chemistry. Can she give you some hints about what she likes and you go from there?
posted by aedra at 7:38 PM on December 11, 2004

The new DKNY Delicious perfume is so pretty- light, fruity, fresh, clean. (That's what I asked for for Christmas!)

Chanel No. 5 is for old ladies. Sorry.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:41 PM on December 11, 2004 [1 favorite]

Oh, and my gf seconds Tommy Girl with her other suggestions.
posted by rustcellar at 7:41 PM on December 11, 2004

If it's your girlfriend you're buying for, anon, buy something you really like, and tell her it drives you wild. She'll wear it every time she sees you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:43 PM on December 11, 2004 [1 favorite]

I agree with thepinksuperhero, but I also have a sneaky side. Check out her dresser when she's in the bathroom and write down the name of the bottle with the least in it. Buy that.

Personally, when I was 22 I wore this.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:55 PM on December 11, 2004

I don't really like the light floral/fruit scents, so I've adored Stella McCartney's perfume for a few years which smells sexy and mysterious to me (and I've had more than a few compliments on it). I also adore Initial by Boucheron for something slightly softer. I personally can't stand the Clinique, CK One or Tommy Girl, but HMMV.

My sister is 22 and she loves both the Stella and Marc Jacob's perfume.
posted by fionab at 7:56 PM on December 11, 2004 [1 favorite]

My favorite is Versace Woman - I'm close to 30, but I'm sure I would have liked it at 22. It's woodsy and light enough for daytime use. It also wears well throughout the day and I've gotten more compliments on it than any other perfume.

Some others to look into are Alfred Sung Shi or Hermes 24 Faubourg. And wow, I've never been to this site before, but the prices are great, whatever you decide to get.
posted by sophie at 8:28 PM on December 11, 2004

I've been wearing Chanel No. 5 since I was 13 years old. Old ladies are in the eye of the beholder.
posted by astruc at 9:17 PM on December 11, 2004

I like your taste astruc! :)
posted by riffola at 9:25 PM on December 11, 2004

I was very fond of Jean Paul Gaultier when I was in my early twenties.
posted by arha at 9:33 PM on December 11, 2004

Clinique's Happy Heart is probably a safe choice, it's a nice scent. Clinique's Happy fades too quickly on everyone I know that has tried it, including myself, so I wouldn't recommend it.

Most of the CKs have a wide appeal - Eternity Moment is the newest, and the ad campaign is pitching it as "romantic". I like how it smells, so it might be my Xmas present to myself. I also wear CK Truth.

If you really wanted to splurge - and I do mean splurge, it's expensive - you could always gift her with her own custom scent (Google Answers list of custom perfume makers). That would of course require her to participate in the process. Although I did spot this place, which only asks for your input, not hers, and is much cheaper to boot. I know I would just *love* receiving such a personal gift from a SO.
posted by Melinika at 9:33 PM on December 11, 2004

I've been wearing Chanel No. 5 since I was 13 years old.

posted by danny boy at 9:54 PM on December 11, 2004

I wear Esprit's Peace. Very light and summery. My 23-year-old sister bought it for me.
posted by tracicle at 10:04 PM on December 11, 2004

Why was this posted anonymously?*

* Unless the person who posted the question and the intended recipient are both MetaFilter users.
posted by Danelope at 10:12 PM on December 11, 2004

I love Chanel 5. It is timeless. Wore it on my wedding day.
That said, the people at Suds and Light have some great scents, and about a zillion of them, too. I personally like the tea-based ones.
There is always Annick Goutal as well. You can find that on Sephora- the lemony one is the best.
posted by oflinkey at 10:27 PM on December 11, 2004

As a guy, I've never liked Chanel No. 5, and never understood why it was such hot shit.

That said, my wife and I are partial to two Burberry scents -- Tender Touch and Weekend, which can both be had at the local Sephora. Both are grown up enough for a 23 year-old but not terribly imposing. I'd suggest Tender Touch for a night out; Weekend is a bit understated and a better day-to-day fragrance.
posted by dogmatic at 10:43 PM on December 11, 2004

I really like J'adore (Dior) and Amarige (Givenchy), just to give you a few more choices (as if you didn't have enough already!).
posted by chemgirl at 11:20 PM on December 11, 2004

The Body Shop has a selection of mixable perfumes - there's a mini-kit available as well. The green ones (at least) are very nice.
The names, I think are a bit ludicrous.
posted by casarkos at 11:55 PM on December 11, 2004

Ooh dear. She's asked you to pick out her perfume? Y'know what this is? This is how well do you know me time. Not to freak you out or anything, but I view purchases like this (jewelry is similar) as a test.

Maybe it's because I'm a control freak, but I don't let anyone else buy perfume for me. Scent is such a personal thing. Whenever someone's bought me perfume, I generally hate it more often than not. Some commenters above have highlighted perfumes with "wide appeal", and those are probably safest -- but then again, maybe your girlfriend doesn't want to smell like every other teenager/young woman on the street?

I'd quiz her. Ask her if she likes florals, fruits, woods, spices, or musks (or combinations thereof). I find most people either like heavy/spicy/ambery or light/sweet/floral. I prefer the former, and as such I really loathe the latter.

Also, does she have a discernible natural scent when she's not wearing any perfume? Does she smell like fruit, or flowers, or baby powder, or the ocean? If you can dectect an easily-identifiable note in her natural smell, you could always find a perfume that has that note in it, and she'd probably like it.
posted by fricative at 12:32 AM on December 12, 2004

Right.. it's over to the dresser to sniff the perfumes. I think Issey Miyake's L'eau D'issey is a light floral fragrance that is good for every day use and which I've had people ask after. I was once given some Chanel No 5 and have hardly used it, it seems a bit old and tired these days.

I have had a few people recommend StrawberryNet as a good online shop for perfume etc as apparently compared to Australia at least, the prices are good and the shipping is free. But I have heard of UK residents being stung for customs duty on the incoming packages. They ship free.
posted by AnnaRat at 12:43 AM on December 12, 2004

First of all, it is impossible to pick a scent for anyone, regardless if they are your girlfriend, mother, sibling, etc. Smell is fickle, and even scents you initially like will end up giving you a headache within a week. Figure that your perfume gift will probably end up as a novelty, but i think it's a touching gift to give your girl regardless.

And sorry about the Chanel no. 5, but you know when you go to the saturday matinee at the theater, and your section is filled to the top with old ladies...and you're gagging on that powder-sweet powdery smell? THAT'S chanel no. 5. It literally smells like powdery old women diapers. very no no for a young lady. However, Chanel's scent 'Allure' is new since May 2004, young and fabulous, and i wear it everyday.

No to calvin klein, clinique, tommy hill, liz claiborne, fcuk, because they are all ubiquitous. Here are a few of my suggestions that are a little nicer and age appropriate: Chanel's 'Allure', Issey Miyake's 'L'eau d'Issey', Ralph Lauren's 'Blue', Thierry Mugler's 'Angel', Marc Jacob's 'Blush', and if i was 22 again, i'd love a bottle of Nanette Lepore's 'Nanette'...
posted by naxosaxur at 3:34 AM on December 12, 2004

Consider the possibility that she asked you to pick it out because she wanted to please you. You have to go to the store in person and pick out something that you can say inspired you. Just go to a very nice store and talk to the salesperson while you actually smell the products, and let the salesperson help you make the right choice. And take into account the symbolism of the shape of the bottle and the name on it. You need a story of making an effort to go with the product, a story that says you care. If she says, why did you pick this, you can't be saying, I asked people on line so I could order on line. That is not the message the girl is hoping to hear, I'm guessing.
posted by Alizaria at 3:52 AM on December 12, 2004


Anyone interested in fragrances absolutely must read The Emperor of Scent
posted by anathema at 4:28 AM on December 12, 2004

This might now work for this particular situation, but what a previous girlfriend did for me was take me to the cologne counter and we proceeded to try out 5 or 6 different colognes and she picked the one she liked best on me. I thought it was pretty romantic, really. You might find it useful to bring in a cup a of coffee - the smell of coffee can clear out previous smells and reset your scent perception.
posted by plinth at 5:10 AM on December 12, 2004

There are huge problems in this question. HUGE

1. Every perfume smells different on every person.
2. A scent that she gets complimented on may not be her favorite.
3. The original notes, (what you smell when you are "testing") will change with time.

For example, I love the mossy green smells and wear Origins and Shiseido brands, but get the most compliments when I am wearing light florals. Also, I bought an expensive bottle of "Angel" perfume because I was crazy about the smell (It has coffee and raspberry notes, as well as wood scents) but could not wear it because it became cloying after about 10 minutes.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:41 AM on December 12, 2004

Another approach to plinth's suggestions: When I had a girlfriend who was very particular about her perfume I'd bring home some of those little mini-tube samples of ones I thought she'd like from the dept. store for her to try before I'd commit to a full bottle. This was a few years ago so I don't know if you can still get them and I don't know if specialty stores like Hermes ever had them. She knew that's what I was doing although we pretended that she didn't and that I was surprising her ("I happened to be at the dept. store and they were handing these out"). And I agree that you can't buy perfume for someone without them trying it unless you're into buying her paperweights (assuming she at least likes the bottle).
posted by TimeFactor at 8:37 AM on December 12, 2004

Origins has some lovely scents. Ginger Essence and Spring Fever are lovely and not overpowering.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:52 AM on December 12, 2004

Sensations by Jil Sander. I'm 23 and got a small sample of this for Christmas last year, and love it.
posted by normal_molly at 10:29 AM on December 12, 2004

Forget Chanel No 5 and Allure, go for Chanel Chance. I used to work in perfumes, went to training by Chanel, and Chance was made for the "younger" market, as they knew that only old ladies bought most of their perfumes. It's a light floral scent, that lasts well, and I haven't known of anyone yet who it doesn't smell good on. If you want to really impress her, buy some body lotion to match, as "layering" the scent makes it last much longer. If you can afford it, go for the EDP not the EDT. Hope this is of some help...
posted by suzie sooze at 1:40 PM on December 12, 2004

i'm with fricative. there's no fucking way you can come up with a universally loved fragrance; that's the point of perfume--there's all kinds to match all kinds of people. anything people suggest here is basically going to be "this is what i like/liked when i was that age" and these people aren't her. you at least have to figure out if she's more casual/laidback, more intense/dramatic, likes strong spicy scents or light citrusy ones or comforting vanilla or floral girly stuff. there's just no way anyone can give you the definite right answer here without knowing about this person. so either consider her aesthetic/approach to her personal style or flat out ask her which group of scents (floral/citrus/spicy/sweet etc) she prefers and go to a perfume counter armed with the answer and her age to tell the salesperson.

(...says the girl who thinks perfume went out of style when people began showering regularly and using scented bodywash/soap/shampoo)
posted by ifjuly at 2:22 PM on December 12, 2004

For a 22-year old, Stila's new line of fragrances is a nice gift for those who like their perfumes with floral tones.

I second the Sephora suggestion: buying perfume/cologne without actually trying it would be a terrible idea.
posted by moxyberry at 7:47 AM on December 13, 2004

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