How to wear perfume at work

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Know how to wear perfume at work to make a subtle & appropriate office statement

Wearing a fragrance at work is more complicated than simply dabbing on your favorite scent before walking out the door. When you work in an enclosed space like an office, the last thing anyone wants is to smell you before you walk in the door. The scent you choose and amount applied will ensure your reputation reflects how you work not smell.

The question of how to wear perfume at work is one for both women and cologne-drenched men. The two main things to consider are which types of scents are appropriate for the professional environment, and how to avoid overdoing it. Keep it subtle on both counts and you’ll be fine. 

Ideally, co-workers won’t be able to smell your fragrance unless for some reason they snuggle up extremely close, which will then point the inappropriate finger at them. 

The thing to remember is a little goes further than you realize. Your nose naturally adapts to what you’re wearing. Remember, while you may no longer smell your signature scent, others can. Resist the urge to re-apply until after work.

Application tips

First let’s address the issue of how much to wear. For many women, applying perfume is part of the daily morning routine; it's not something that entails thought until someone at work implies your scent precedes you. Your mission: Learn how to wear perfume at work without inducing sneezes from colleagues in the elevator or overpowering the person sitting next to you in a meeting.

Fragrances give a little boost of confidence on presentation days or the same kind of smile that comes with putting on a favorite necklace. Apply a judicious amount so its undetectable to those an arm away and you’ll still get that sense of satisfaction. To do this, consider buying the concentrated version, sometimes called parfum, of your favorite workday scent.

Many women buy “eau de toilette” because it’s more affordable. Since it’s less potent, the risk of overdoing it is minimal if you only apply it once. The problem is that it wears off quickly and sometimes smells more like alcohol than the intended scent. As a result, many wind up reapplying and reapplying and by the end of the day the mailman can smell you from a block away. 

Moderate application is best. Either dab parfum on one and only one pulse point – your wrists, back of the knees or neck (cleavage application is probably better left to date nights) – or spritz the air and walk through so just enough falls on your hair, skin and clothes. 

Choosing a work appropriate fragrance

Both men and women in the professional world should choose their fragrances wisely. Heavier scents are best for the evening and weekend. That said, there are quite a few work-appropriate, light, crisp perfumes to satisfy every perfume personality. If it's time to change the perfume you wear, consider these types of classic scents.

Gals who like feminine scents can go the classic route with Chanel No. 5. It’s sophisticated and worldly with a light floral bouquet. Hints of sandalwood and vanilla balance it out. Interested in trying something softer? Bill Blass blends jasmine and green mandarin with a gentle musk base note.

The citrusy scents like Daisy by Marc Jacobs are energizing, bright and playful. Fruity top notes of grapefruit and strawberry have a warm finish. Woody fragrances often have exotic spicy notes worn by both men and women. Jo Malone, Tobacco Vanille and Terre D’Hermes are popular unisex options.

Remember that scents smell different once you put them on. Your unique body chemistry influences each scent, so before investing in a large bottle that smells perfect at the counter, try a sampler at work for a few days to test the waters.

Keep it light! That's the main thing to remember about how to wear perfume at work.

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