What is the deal with men in this country when it comes to wearing fragrance? There’s this attitude pervasive among most American men today that it is not manly for a guy to wear fragrances. Wearing fragrance is bad enough, but if you're actually interested in and enjoy talking about perfume with other people, then you're a real fairy. Most guys I've known wouldn't dare be caught at a Sephora buying a bottle of cologne for themselves - that kind of thing is for chicks. Of course, if your girlfriend or wife buys you a bottle, then that's okay - that way you have a manly-sounding excuse to tell your friends if they catch you wearing some kind of fragrance. And God help you if one of your buddies catches you spritzing yourself with something that has the words "Pour Femme" printed on the bottle.
A lot of you reading this are perfume enthusiasts like me, and you’re probably thinking, “Why do you care about what other people think?” That’s not the issue, though. If I cared about what other people thought, I wouldn’t be wearing cologne every day and I wouldn’t have started this blog. The reason I raise this issue is because I think America’s general attitude towards perfume is absurd, and that irritates me.
I suppose I should at least be somewhat sympathetic to this status quo attitude, since I used to feel the same way. When I was in college in the 80’s, I owned only one bottle of cologne – Drakkar Noir. My sister bought it for me, which was cool because I didn’t have to worry about being seen in public actually buying it for myself. No, if I were going to be caught actually buying a bottle of cologne for myself, there damn well better have been a good looking woman shopping with me, and I probably would have asked her to bring the bottle up to the cashier while I stood outside. The way I looked at it, guys only wore cologne to attract women. Otherwise, you were a sissy. Oh yes, I was very secure about my own masculinity back then. This very progressive attitude of mine carried me through college, even though the Drakkar Noir did not help me one iota in “picking up chicks.”
My attitude about perfume, however, changed completely once I met my wife in 1993. She and her family are from a Mediterranean French background. In that part of the world, men don’t have hang-ups about wearing fragrance. Go to France and you’ll smell guys wearing Eau Sauvage and Azzaro Pour Homme all over the place. Over there, there’s nothing even remotely wimpy or effeminate about a man wearing cologne. You should have met my father-in-law; he was so secure in his masculinity that he would have looked macho wearing a pink tutu. He was a big wearer of Ho Hang, Eau Sauvage, Paco Rabanne, etc., and was no less manly for it. That’s the environment and attitude that my wife was raised in, and it ended up rubbing off on me. She’s a perfume nut herself, and she got me eternally hooked on perfume when she bought me a bottle of Eau Sauvage for Christmas in 1993. I’ve been an avid fan, collector and of course wearer of fragrances ever since, thanks to her.
Are any of you people reading this new to the world of men’s fragrances? If you are, then welcome. Are any of you uncomfortable or hesitant about wearing a fragrance? Do you worry about what others might think of your masculinity if you wear fragrance? If you answered yes to either of these questions, let me tell you this, and I say this in all sincerity and with no sarcasm whatsoever: women like to be with guys who smell good. Does that make you feel any better? It should, because it’s true. I’m not gay, but I think it's safe to assume that gay guys like to be with other guys who smell good too. Wearing a fragrance is a way of expressing yourself. Depending on which scent you choose, wearing a fragrance can make you more approachable, and even alluring, to other people, no matter who you are. What's wrong with that? How can that not make you feel good? And once you start to realize that and are able to find some fragrances that you feel comfortable wearing, then you'll move on to the final phase of true perfume appreciation: wearing fragrances simply because you like them.
I'm glad I got that off my chest. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that I'm preaching to the converted. I'm probably naive in hoping that some people other than perfume enthusiasts are reading this post, since real men don't read perfume blogs.