Best perfume selection in US department stores?
July 30, 2010 10:10 AM   Subscribe

What US department store -- besides Sephora -- has the best [widest?] selection of perfume? Bonus points if they will give samples -- I don't like to buy something without wearing it for a day first.

Sephora has disappointed me lately in my quest to try Thierry Mugler's Angel Violette (though they did have Angel) and SJP's Lovely. They seem to have a limited selection in general, especially in "men's" scents. I'm in Austin, but I'll be in Dallas in a few weeks. Thank you!
posted by fiercecupcake to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Bloomingdales and Saks.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:22 AM on July 30, 2010

Macy's has a pretty good perfume selection, as well.
posted by scarykarrey at 10:25 AM on July 30, 2010

Bloomingdales usually has a pretty enormous cosmetics and fragrance department, so I'd second that.
posted by padraigin at 10:25 AM on July 30, 2010

We don't have Bloomingdales in Texas anymore. They all closed in the '90s. :[
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:29 AM on July 30, 2010

Macy's should sort you out for the Mugler and SJP; the flagship Neiman Marcus is in Dallas, and I've found them to be pretty good for the high end, especially classics that have limited distribution (and they've always been generous with samples when I've been there). I don't think Bloomingdales has any stores in Texas any more, but Saks is in Austin and Dallas.
posted by holgate at 10:30 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you are inTX, it seems that Nieman's would be the place to go (aren't they based in Dallas?). I am always happy with their men's fragrance counter at the Chicago store - lots of high end and some obscure stuff. I always find something weird or interesting there.
posted by Tchad at 10:31 AM on July 30, 2010

While it's not a bricks and mortar store, The Perfumed Court sells sample sizes of hundreds of perfumes. The smallest single sample size seem to run between 3-6 dollars. They have samples available for both of the scents that you were looking for. You can also by groups of samples from the same manufacturer/perfumer. It's a great way to "try before you buy," especially for expensive and difficult to find fragrances like those by Serge Lutyens or Frederic Malle.

You might also try Ulta, which is a slightly more down market version of Sephora. They seem to have a decent selection of major department store perfumes including SJP and TM.
posted by kaybdc at 10:36 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nordstrom does a good job. There is a Neiman Marcus with a good perfume counter in Dallas, too.

But my go to perfumery is a local place here in Seattle called Parfumerie Nasreen.

My experience is that it is worth hunting up the shops that specialize in perfume.
posted by bearwife at 10:43 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nordstrom is the only US department store that keeps empty vials and will make a sample of anything they carry (assuming they have a tester) if you ask. Sephora will do the same, but as you noticed, their selection is not quite as good.

Neiman Marcus has an excellent selection, and will usually give carded (manufacturer) samples if they have them, but of course they don't always have them. Same goes for Saks.

If you are willing to buy samples online, you can often find mainstream samples at Beauty Encounter, or niche samples at The Perfumed Court as mentioned above.
posted by justcurious at 10:44 AM on July 30, 2010

AFAIK there is no local specialty perfume shop in Austin, but it's been awhile since I looked.

I'm loath to order online since it's July and the perfumes would likely be in a 4000deg metal mailbox for hours before I got home (I live in the sticks, so running home wouldn't be an option). I could have them delivered to work, though, I guess.

Thanks for all the good answers. I'm going to try Neiman's and Nordstrom first. (They're two of my favorites anyway! Why didn't I think of them? I think of Neiman's for gloves/millinery/jewelry and Nordstrom for shoes.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:15 AM on July 30, 2010

Lucky Scent is Mrs Jones' go to source. They will send samples, they are extensive, and not just with all that new chemical crap that pollutes so many malls.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:56 AM on July 30, 2010

My local Macys has a great selection of scents, and has always been very knowledgable and friendly (although I'm approaching from my experience with colognes).
posted by codacorolla at 11:59 AM on July 30, 2010

I was also going to suggest Perfumed Court. I've ordered from them several times before. Their selection, prices, and service are SUPER AWESOME.

And if it turns out that you don't care for a perfume, there's always someone around who's happy to take it off your hands! I've gifted unloved samples to all kinds of friends, family, and coworkers.

Another benefit to ordering samples is that you can try it under several different circumstances. Sometimes a perfume that's too X during the day when I'm busy and possibly sweating will be just perfect on a weekend afternoon. And vice versa.
posted by ErikaB at 3:07 PM on July 30, 2010

There are branches of Perfumania in both cities.
posted by brujita at 3:40 PM on July 30, 2010

Yeah, Macy's and Sephora were where I went when I wanted to try tons of perfumes to choose a "signature" scent.
posted by limeonaire at 7:15 PM on July 30, 2010

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