There should be a word for that feeling you get when you come across a treasure bargain. I got that feeling in the charity shop today when I found two metres of quilting fabric for £3, and later when my husband made an emergency call to his perfume blogger wife from Lidl earlier. “There’s five new perfumes in Lidl!” I was very restrained and requested just two. For now.
This evening I am testing Luxury Excellent for Women which made my face go blank for about ten minutes whilst my olfactory database shrugged its shoulders and said “beats me, love!”.
I took a break and came back to it and the penny dropped. A-ha! I thought. I’ve got it. This reminds me of Chanel Allure. There’s white flowers and apricots to start with, followed by a fleeting glimpse of sniff-and-you’ll-miss-it-roses. The base notes are a musky base of warm and woody amber, with those juicy apricots just daring to peek through.
It has good sillage, but not the same resonance as Chanel Allure. I wouldn’t class it as a dupe, but I would say if you’re a fan of Allure, you might find something you like in your friendly continental supermarket too. Oh, and check out the ice lollies whilst you’re there. They’re the best in town. Perfume and a lolly. It’s a good day.
Available from Lidl at a breathtaking £4.99. There are others too, so watch this space.
Are you one of those people who recoils at the idea of smelling like their Mum? I am. I confess that I very rarely wear the same perfume as my Mum, no matter how much I like it. In fact I try not to introduce her to perfumes I love for that very reason. No offence Mum, if you’re reading this! ( I bet she’s not) and happy birthday for tomorrow.
However, as a child of the seventies I am having a big fit of nostalgia lately. So many new releases from the last two years have been berry-heavy, vanilla heavy and have more in common with an ice cream sundae than a cosmetics counter. It used to be aldehydes and oakmoss and now its all candy floss and Kate Moss (which rhymes if you say it right). When did it become cool to smell like cupcakes instead of eating them? Is it any wonder that I long for the seventies?
Seventies fragrances are generally looked down on by the youth of today and no wonder: modern tastes have moved on. However, as an ardent fan of Coty L’Aimant and Panache and Avon Timeless I fully embrace those aldehydic affordable scents from my formative years and I reckon retro scents are due for a comeback.
I’ve picked ten of my favourites out below just in case you, like me, fancy a shot of retro fragrant frugality. I have only selected perfumes you can still buy today and perfumes that are still comparably affordable (not counting eBay where even the discontinued can be had for the right price)). In fact, the added bonus is that all the fragrances I have listed come in at well under a tenner and some are nearer five pounds. Is it too early to use the C word? Of course not. Here I go then- these would make great affordable Christmas presents. Check these out:
Avon Timeless:An ambery, powdery scent created in 1974. Avon discontinued it in favour of more modern releases but customer demand brought it back in 2012. My Avon Lady tells me it’s her bestseller.
Tweed:Tweed is underrated if you ask me. Its chock full of citruses and flowers, goes a bit Mr Sheen for a bit with lavender and beeswax, then ends up with a woody, patchouli afterglow that lasts a whole day. Cheap as chips and a pleasant change among the sweety/cakey miasma of the Twenteens.
Panache: I wear this often. Its jasmine, aldehydes and roses last around twelve hours on me, making my little 3.95 bottle fantastic value for money. You can still get it for well under a tenner.
Coty L’Aimant: Many Chanel No 5 fans eschew this gem, when actually, they were launched a few years apart in the late 1920s and smell very similar. Longevity is excellent and despite its tiny price, it never smells cheap.
Yardley Lavender: I’ve got the lot: Yardley Rose, Yardley April Violets and Yardley English Lavender. You can’t beat a classic floral. I also love to layer April Violets over existing scent that isn’t, in my open ion, “violetty enough”
Lace: Formerly Yardley Lace, this is now made by Taylor of London. Lace opens with aldehydes and citrus notes, goes through a blousy, rather loud floral phase and beds down into moss, amber and patchouli. It’s similar to Chique, but soapier.
Chique: With hand on heart I can genuinely tell you that this mossy chypre reminds me of Estee Lauder Knowing and gets better the longer you wear it. Chique isunder ten quid and I proudly own a wear a bottle myself. Wouldn’t be without it.
Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass: another spicy aldehyde, full of peppery geranium and classic roses. Perfect from the fridge in summer. Still very good value and widely available.
Charlie Blue: Okay I admit, I didn’t used to like this at all, but once I entered the chypre portal, it made more sense to me. It’s very cheap, very long lasting and has a mossy, spicy base that is harder to find over the High Street counter today. Its remarkably cheap, usually under £4.
Jovan Musk For Women: Launched in 1972 and still going strong today: Every Fragrance Wardrobe needs a musk and this is a good one. This has not dated since its launch and is not just a good quality musk on its own but is excellent for layering too. I bagged my bottle locally but you can find it on Fragrance Direct or Amazon UK.
If you haven’t got a farthing, then God bless you.
Don’t think I’m being too early- there are only one or two pay days until Christmas. Already the shops are full of Quality Street and Tinsel and I’m trying to stay away from the Lebkuchen so that Santa trousers don’t have to be my only fashion choice.
Perfume sales sky rocket before Christmas: it is no accident that Autumn is perfume launch season, and the selection on the High Street at the moment can be a) overwhelming and b) expensive. From my dashboard here at IScent HQ, I can see the most frequent internet search terms that lead people to my site. The searches that I am seeing over and over again are “good cheap perfume” and “cheap perfume that smells good”. I can see there’s a demand, and like an olfactory Wonder Woman, I’m here to solve your problem.
It sounds unfeasible that in a world where living costs are so high, it is still possible to buy perfume that doesn’t smell like cat wee for five quid, but it can be done. Like all things, it’s just a matter of being selective. I’m not promising you the moon and the stars, (or Sun Moon Stars– yuk!) but wearable, decent perfume for you or a friend or a colleague (if you’re doing Secret Santa) is within the reach of even the thriftiest shopper.
Here goes: I have smelled the good, the bad and the ugly to make this list:
Perfume for Under a Fiver.
In no particular order, all of these perfumes are under five quid and would be ideal for Secret Santa gifts or stocking fillers. Prices correct at time of writing
Jean Yves Grasse Experience: For fans of Aromatics Elixir, this mossy chypre can be had for under a fiver. Available from Amazon UK
Coty Chanson D’Eau: a wonderfully green and uplifting scent from Coty. For under a fiver you get a free body spray too. You can buy it from Amazon UK
Coty L’Aimant The perennial classic. I prefer the Parfum de Toilette to the cologne spray and you can get it for under a fiver on Amazon UK. To me, it always smells similar to Chanel No 5.
Taylor of London Panache: the darling of the seventies, don’t write Panache off. It’s a great floral aldehyde with 12 hour longevity. I wear it regularly and its especially good in cold weather. You can buy gift sets for a laughably cheap 3.99 on Fragrance Direct
Chique Another Taylor of London classic: Its utility packaging and Seventies name hides a terrific mossy chypre that left me reminded me of Estee Lauder Knowing. Buy a set off FragranceDirect for 3.99 .
Avon Timeless Available from AvonShop Uk for five quid, this is a powdery, ambery classic that was brought back by popular demand. My Avon Lady, the lovely Jill, can vouch for its popularity.
Milton Lloyd Tweed Mademoiselle– a fruity floral that smells like many new releases, and is even better than many more expensive mass market fragrances. Its a fruity floral (not my favourite genre, but always a bestseller), and is light and pretty with the emphasis on the florals. Anyone who likes Miss Dior Cherie might like this one too. You can buy it from Amazon UK.
Bronnley Lime and Bergamot: From trusty Bronnley comes a light citrussy floral cologne that is a real crowd pleaser. Currently on sale on Fragrance Direct for 4.99
Milton Lloyd Panache Mademoiselle: if you like the light airiness of Estee Lauder Pleasures then you’ll love this. You can buy it from Fragrance Direct for 3.99. I have a bottle myself.
The Body Shop White MuskMini Spray: a perennial favourite, the legendary White Musk now comes in an affordable handbag sized bottle that costs a mere five quid and you can buy it right here.
So there you have it- perfume under a fiver? Yes it can be done and I wouldn’t let you buy it if I wouldn’t wear it myself. Let me know your thoughts on fragrant frugality! I always love to hear from you.