With its aisles and aisles of colored vials, the world of perfume can perplex someone who does not know her way around. As daunting as exploring perfumes and fragrances may seem, any newcomer can pick up a basic knowledge of the taxonomy of perfumes, which will help her choose the one that best suits her.
Traditionally each and every perfume is put into to a specific group or family. These families all more or less reduce to six different categories of fragrance, floral or sweet, sporty or clean, green or natural, musk, woody or chypre, and oriental or spicy. Every person's taste in fragrance varies. Some people like a specific family, and some people like them all.
The only thing that is certain about fragrance preference is that it can chance with time. As a girl matures into a woman, her tastes in fragrance will likely mature as well. A young woman who is enthusiastic about the sparkling smell of floral perfumes may gradually grow to like the more powerful, deeper scent of woody or even musk perfumes.
Floral or sweet fragrances are the most popular category of fragrance. They get their dominant smell from one or several flowers. A perfume whose aroma is made up of only one flower is called a soliflore. Floral fragrances have a light, playful quality to them, and are for a woman who likes to have a lighthearted air. They conjure images of carefree spring time, or can be bubbly and enthusiastic.
Some noteworthy examples of floral fragrance are Chanel No. 22, Estee Lauder Pleasures and White Lineny, L'Air Du Temps by Nina Ricci, and Joy by Jean Patou.
Sporty or clean fragrances are named for their freshness, a quality that roughly akin to the smell of a warm shower or a good soap. These fragrances are found most often in eau de colognes. Given their refreshing nature, women who are active or athletic may find sporty fragrances appealing. Some classic sporty fragrances are Estee Lauder Alliage, Lily Chic by Escada, Cashmere Mist by Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren Polo for Women and Tommy Girl.
The natural or green perfume family is so named for the homey, natural smells it provides. Think of pine forests or oceanside walks and you come close to the aroma of a natural perfume. If these sorts of activities inspire you, perhaps you would like a natural fragrance. Examples of natural perfumes are Burrberry London, Calvin Klein Truth for Women, Poison by Christian Diro, and True Star by Tommy Hilfiger.
Musk fragrances are strongly suggestive and sexy. They are powerful and meant for the women who is through playing games and knows what she wants, or for the sort of wordless communication that is so effective between lovers and would-be lovers. Musk fragrances give off the strongest aroma of all the fragrance families. They are derived from the male musk deer from the Himalayas, muskrats, and musk oxen. Common musk perfumes are O Oui by Lancome, Shalimar by Guerlain, L'Aminant by Coty, and Dolce & Gabbana for Women.
Chypre or woody perfumes are sometimes also referred to as earthy. This family is made up of fragrances which contain bergamot, jasmine and oakmoss. Woody fragrances can be described as a mixture of the flavors of custard and apricot, and seem to suit the woman who sports birkenstocks. Popular examples of chypre and woody perfumes are Chanel No. 19; Envy Me by Gucci, Paloma Picasso Perfume, and Romance by Ralph Lauren.
Oriental or spicy is used to describe the last perfume family. These perfumes, which can also be called ambers, are made up of animal scents and vanilla combined with wood and flowers, or both. Oriental fragrances are spicy and exotic, and stand apart, and so are perfect for the woman who can stand on her own two feet with confidence. Some popular perfumes that are in the oriental family are Emeraude by Coty, Estee Lauder Youth Dew, Lancome's Magic Noir and Tresor, and Opium by Yves Saint Laurent.
Now you know the basics of how fragrances are categorized. Armed with this knowledge of the perfume families, head on down to the fragrance shop nearest you. You will have an edge! Now you know which family suits you best!