Why Colognes and Perfumes Are Just as Important for Style as Clothing

If you don’t wear any cologne or perfume, you are making a huge mistake.

I was the kid who wore insanely too much Axe body spray in high school. I did it because I was insecure with myself, never entirely sure if I smelled OK or reeked like fried cumin—so I doused myself in it and thought I was doing the right thing. Toward the end of high school, there was massive social blowback against Axe wearers, so I left that life behind and avoided fragrances altogether for many years.

Here’s the thing: Axe body sprays actually don’t smell that bad. In fact, many Axe scents are cloned after or inspired by classic colognes. For example, Nautica Voyage and Versace Pour Homme are both great yet remind me of Axe. The problem is when people wear too much, like I did, and it suffocates everyone in the vicinity. That applies to colognes and perfumes just as much as it applies to Axe.

Colognes and perfumes are not meant to cover up body odor. Too much of a good thing is bad, and no matter how good a particular scent smells, nobody likes being smothered. Good hygiene is essential to wearing colognes and perfumes. You want to be clean so your body acts as a blank canvas for the fragrance.

But why wear fragrances when you don’t stink?

Why You Should Start Wearing Fragrances

Your sense of personal style should encompass all the senses. Fashion, grooming, and beauty are all important, but they only involve the sense of sight. Your voice, cadence, accent, and diction involve the sense of sound. Why stop there? Just as your physical appearance can express something about yourself, so can the scents you choose to wear.

Scents are the most powerful memory triggers. You know how a single whiff of a particular smell can take you back to moments of your childhood? For me, the smell of funnel cake instantly triggers a yearning for summer trips to an amusement park. Colognes and perfumes are excellent ways to establish these kinds of memory triggers, both for yourself and for the people you interact with.

There’s an incredible variety of fragrances to explore. Not all fragrances smell the same. Some are spicy, some are flowery, others are salty, others are sweet. I’ve found that exercising my sense of smell and expanding my “tastes” in fragrances has made me more aware of smells in other areas of my life—like cooking. Expanding one’s personal tastes is one of many ways to grow as a person, and it’s a shame that the sense of taste often overshadows the sense of smell. Plus, it’s fun to explore the thousands of unique fragrances out there! Did you know the human nose can detect over 1 trillion distinct scents? Don’t let that amazing ability go to waste.

Wearing fragrances can help boost your confidence. When you start dressing well, one of the first things you notice is that you feel more confident. You look good, you feel good. Fragrances can have the same effect! But whereas your appearance develops a long-range confidence—people can see you from far away—fragrances develop a more intimate-range confidence. When you smell good and someone comes close to you, you can’t help but feel a little more self-assured, positive, and bold. And one of the best feelings is when someone compliments your fragrance out of the blue! That’s something that can make your entire day.

Smelling something you like is an enjoyable experience in itself. There are times when I’m working at home, alone all day, no plans to go out, yet I’ll throw on a scent anyway because I just like the smell. I know of people who have found colognes that smell like clean linens and wear the scent to sleep because it’s comforting. Fragrances don’t have to be about showing off or winning compliments; often, the smell itself is the reward.

It’s a small thing that can have a huge impact. Not sure where to begin? Check out our introductions and guides on how to shop for fragrances, how to apply fragrances properly, and how to understand the notes and accords that make up a fragrance.

Joel Lee

Joel is editor in chief at Modern Ratio. He contributes the occasional article and manages the overall vision of the site. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science and is based in Pennsylvania.