Have you opened that Acqua di Gio cologne/body wash gift set your aunt gave you for Christmas yet? Good. Don’t.
At least until you read this list of what you should be wearing instead.
(note: These opinions are strictly my own and reflect no commercial interest or claim of expertise. Except that I know more about this stuff than whomever gave you the AdG.)
These are in no particular order.
Carlos Santana for Men. We’ll start with this because it has a nice cinnamon-apple smell that’s Christmasy. This is the only ‘celebrity’ fragrance on our list. It’s warm. Makes you want to go check out white girls at the strip club and spend all the money you were supposed to send back to Mexico.
Azzaro pour Homme. This stuff has been around since the 70′s. It’s a timeless classic. Still one of the best colognes around. It’s a ‘fougere’ which means it’s based on tree moss. Don’t let that put you off. This stuff smells great. A favorite of mine. Makes you feel like the mob boss who owns the disco Tony Manero goes to in Saturday Night Fever.
Another 70′s classic. Makes you feel like Tony Manero. This one’s been discontinued but you can still find it at the off-price places like Marshall’s or Ross. I stocked up when my local TJ Maxx blew them out because they had battered boxes. Got enough to last for years, dirt cheap.
By the way, ‘pour homme’ just means ‘for men’ in French. You probably know that but just in case you don’t, relax.
Grey Flannel. Another cologne that can be picked up cheap and yet another 70′s classic. It would seem the 70′s were a high-water mark for cologne. Might have had something to do with disco and all those open shirts, I dunno. GF is the counter to Azzaro and Escada. While the Brooklyn kids and mobsters were whooping it up, this is the stuff guys in Westchester wore to their proms. This juice is strong and very floral (violets, to be precise) so use sparingly.
Habit Rouge. Now we’re getting grown-up. The name refers to the red coats worn by European huntsmen on horseback if that gives you any idea. A kind of sweet, woody scent. Reformulated to be less sweet a few years back. You can still get the old stuff in the more square bottle online. That’s what I bought, because I’m kind of a snob like that.
Terre d’Hermes. A personal favorite. The scent has been described as ‘an orange rotting on a park bench in summer’ by a non-fan. It is citrus, with kind of a dirty, earthy undertone. Makes me feel like I’ve been picking oranges in Portugal all day. You’d want to try this one before you buy, see if it’s for you. Check it out at Nordstrom. The woman at the counter will try to push some Acqua di Gio on you. Stay strong. Don’t do it.
Guerlain Vetiver. Another entry from the House of Guerlain, makers of Habit Rouge. I’m wearing this right now. Vetiver is a fragrant grass native to India. Most of it is grown in Haiti now. Exotic, no? It does have a grassy smell to me, though some describe it as ‘woody’. Another that’s not for everyone. Reminds me of working in my grandpa’s hay fields as a teenager, but I don’t have to smell the unwashed alcoholic hired hand next to me on the trailer.
Green Irish Tweed. From the ‘niche’ (meaning you won’t find this stuff at Marshall’s or even Macy’s) House of Creed. The darling of fragrance snobs everywhere. What you wear when you’ve graduated from Cool Water. There is something in the middle of the note progression in this that I find faintly unpleasant. The base, however, is sublime.
This juice is the single most counterfeited cologne in the world. As such, you don’t want to buy it on Ebay unless you really know what you’re doing. Neiman Marcus is the only U.S. store you can get this in, as far as I know. Costco is carrying some Creed scents on their website, but not this one.
Bois du Portugal. Our second entry from Creed, and my favorite of their scents. ‘Bois’ means ‘wood’. Fragrant wood is, I guess, the best description I can think of. This is the stuff those guys in the Men’s Club in the movie Trading Places must be wearing. Whenever I put it on, I get a Wayne’s World flash: I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy! Then I put it on anyway. So expensive, I can only afford it by the decant.
Bulgari Black. Here’s another terrific cologne you can get cheap at Marshall’s. The company likes to spell its name ‘Bvlgari’ to look more Roman or classy or something. I don’t mind, but I never know how I’m supposed to spell it. I love this stuff because of its schizoid nature. It’s too feminine for men. It’s too masculine for women. It’s smoky. It’s sweet.
Its main scent is described as ‘burning rubber’ (hence the bottle looks like a tire), yet it drys down kind of sweet, like vanilla. It’s sort of like roasting marshmallows over a tire fire.
So, there we have it. You don’t want that Acqua di Gio, trust me. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s just blah. Millions of other mall denizens are wearing it. They pimped it so hard on TV this Christmas just watching all those commercials made me feel dirty.
Take it back, and get something with soul. Something you. Something that gives you a feeling.
Like maybe, something from this list.