How to sniff out a summer scent

It's not hard to distinguish the difference between your summer and winter clothes – one is generally darker, longer, thicker and heavier; the other typically is lighter, looser, brighter and briefer.

But can you distinguish the seasonality of another wearable item which, while a tad more ephemeral, is no less important to overall personal style?

 Yes, I'm talking about the perfect summer cologne.

Many men think they can get by with one all-purpose, all-year-round cologne. Sure, it's great to have that signature scent that everyone recognizes as yours. You wouldn't wear a woolen peacoat in the middle of summer just because people recognise it as yours, though. Fragrances that smell terrific during the cooler months can, as the mercury and humidity rise, become about as appealing as three-week-old kitty litter.  

So what should the average-nosed gent keep in mind when picking out the perfect aromatic addition to his summer wardrobe?

Keep it clean

When it comes to the warmer months, fresh scents are the way to go.

Fragrance specialist at Mecca Cosmetica, Raquel Said, says the best way to describe the must-have fragrances for the coming summer is clean. "Clean is the new sexy," she says.

"As we are approaching the summer, men should look more towards fragrances that are fresh, clean and lively. You want to feel uplifted and energised from your fragrance. Keep an eye out for fresh citrus notes such as bergamot, neroli and blood orange. These notes work wonderfully when paired with slightly warmer, more comforting materials such as cedar, sandalwood and amber to create a nice balance."

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A suitable choice for summer would be Byerdo's Sunday Cologne, which is subtle enough for the office, but masculine enough that any man would be comfortable wearing it.

Other options to keep you smelling shower-fresh are Le Labo's Bergamot 22 or Hermés Un Jardin en Mediternée, both of which contain a nice citrus opening with just enough floral notes to keep them from being too overpowering. And speaking of which …

Don't be afraid of flowers

Most men turn their nose up at the idea of wearing floral-based scents, associating them with women's perfume. But considering the success of Giorgio Armani's 1997 release Acqua Di Giò, it's probably fair to say most men are simply limited in their knowledge of the broad range of floral notes used in your average cologne. (Acqua di Giò lists its main notes – after the up-front citrus – as neroli, jasmine and freesia; all traditionally 'feminine' scents.)

Floral notes, in fact, do not automatically mean sweet. Take Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle's Geranium Pour Monsieur, for example, which has geranium as the main ingredient but with hints of peppermint and star anise. It's as refreshing as a dip in the ocean. Or you could try Tom Ford's flawlessly subtle Neroli Portofino which – despite carving a decent chunk out of your paycheque - is a worthy investment. A far more economic option, Kenzo's 2008-released Power, will also give you that shower-fresh scent all day long.

When the sun goes down

Don't be scared to own more than one fragrance to choose from in order to match an occasion. Raquel Said recommends at least two choices – one for work and one for play.

"Generally men opt for a clean, refreshing scent for the day," she says. "Something that isn't going to be too polarising for the workplace. At night you can be a bit more bold with your choices."

While it's still not the best idea to fall back on your heavy musk-based winter colognes, anything with a softer wood note such as sandalwood or even vetiver is a good choice.

My favourite for after-five is Bleu de Chanel, which leads with Calabrian citrus and fresh mint and settles down to a warm, smooth cedar and sandalwood base. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, try Malin and Goetz Dark Rum, which is a heady mix of bergamot, plum and, of course, rum. Great for balmy Australian evenings.

Finally, some tips on how to get the most out of your summer cologne:

  • Use unscented soaps – all those heavily fragranced body washes aren't that great for your skin to begin with.
  • Same with deodorants – keep sport deodorants for when you're actually playing sport. There are great, simple unscented options that are just as effective and won't leave you smelling like a locker room.
  • Lynx body sprays and their like do not double as a cologne – for mine, they should never be worn by anyone over the age of 19, and even that's pushing it. Smelling like teen spirit in your adult years is never a good look.

What colognes would you recommend this summer?

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