What are the 10 Top Fragrances?
You know, Everyone will have their own choices, these are mine, I really love niche fragrances, but because of my personal style and the fact that I consider fragrance to be the final detail of any outfit, I also really love those classic fragrances as well. So what makes something a classic fragrance, and what makes something one of the greatest classic fragrances of all time?
Those were the two questions that were on my mind the most. And I came up with some criteria that for me contribute to something being a classic fragrance as well as contributing to something being considered one of the greatest classic fragrances of all time.
First and foremost, it has to be a fragrance that’s been around for a while. Obviously that sense of history is something that contributes to something becoming a classic. Along with that history and having been around for a while, typically a classic fragrance has some kind of story attached to it.
That could be that maybe some old classic movie star really loved that fragrance and is famous for wearing it. Something that contributes to the narrative of this as a classic fragrance. Most importantly, of course, is how the fragrance smells and one of the biggest things for me is not only that it has a classic kind of timeless scent, but that it’s versatile. I think of it very much like I think about menswear in that way, you know those pieces we consider as those classic menswear pieces, a navy suit, a gray flannel suit.
These are classics not only because they’re timeless and transcendent in a way, but because they’re versatile. They can be worn a variety of different ways by many different people in a wide variety of situations from casual to business casual to dressy and even more formal. I feel the exact same way about a fragrance being classic and that’s how I made my choices. So, without further ado, let’s get into my picks for the 10 greatest classic men’s fragrances.
Number one, we have Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior.
This was introduced in 1966 and was actually Dior’s first fragrance for men. It is an absolute classic and I would even go so far as to say that this fragrance is iconic. Top notes include lemon, bergamot, basil, lavender, and they say a hint of cumin though I don’t detect that. Heart notes include jasmine, rose, carnation, patchouli, and sandalwood. Base notes, oakmoss,vetiver, musk, and amber. This is a citrusy fragrance and it’s also very fresh. On the surface it seems like a very, very simple fragrance.
However as you spend more time with it you realize it has a lot more depth and a lot more complexity. It also lasts quite a while. I would say five to eight hours, which is not typical of a fragrance that is more citrusy. This is a fragrance you could wear all year round, any time of day, for any type of event, and it would not seem out of place. Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior, one of the true classics of men’s fragrances.
Number two, we have Knize Ten.
If you haven’t heard about this one, I would say that of the 10 fragrances I’ve chosen for this story, this one is definitely the most, kind of, if you know, you know fragrance. It’s like the speakeasy of classic men’s fragrances. So Knize is actually a very well-known Viennese tailoring house and men’s shop. This fragrance here, KnizeTen, was introduced in 1924 and it is considered very old school, very elegant, and also considered a classic leathery scent. That to me is interesting because when I think of leathery fragrances, I think of something big and bold and sort of unapologetically masculine like a Tom Ford Tuscan Leather or Tuscan Leather Intense. Knize Ten is not that kind of leathery fragrance. In fact, leather, to my nose, is not super present. What I do get are some spicy notes, some floral notes, some citrusy notes, and some pepper. Notes for this one include lemon, bergamot, petitgrain, rosemary, geranium, rose, cedar, carnation, sandalwood, leather, musk, patchouli, and ambergris. Knize Ten is light, it’s elegant, it’s very distinct, it’s very different. This is not what I would call a modern masculine scent. This is old school gentleman right here. I would put this more on the connoisseur side of classic fragrances, it kind of takes some getting used to to appreciate it, meaning it’s not quite as universal as, say, an Eau Sauvage. It’s quite long-lasting, especially as an eau de toilette. You could definitely wear this on a daily basis, but I would actually maybe reserve this for something more formal like if you were going to wear a tuxedo or a dinner jacket and really wanted to kind of feel some sort of old school gentlemanly elegance.
Number three, we have Floris of London No. 89.
Floris was founded in 1730 selling perfume, combs, and shaving products. The shop they opened was on Jermyn Street, 89 Jermyn Street to be exact which is the 89 in this fragrance’s name. And that shop is still run by descendants of the original founders. Floris No. 89 was introduced in 1951. It is a woody citrus fragrance. Top notes are bergamot, lavender, neroli, nutmeg, orange, and petitgrain. Heart notes, geranium, rose, and ylang ylang and base notes are cedarwood, musk, oakmoss, sandalwood, and vetiver. This fragrance right here is considered to be a quintessential english gentleman’s fragrance. For that point, it was supposedly a favorite of Winston Churchill and also Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels.
This definitely has that classic gentleman kind of scent, almost like a barbershop fragrance in that you do get a lot of lavender. It’s fresh but also more on the herbaceous side. For me, this one tends to get lots of compliments. I think that’s because although it’s classic, it’s not as familiar to as many people in the United States so it’s a little bit intriguing in that way. This is definitely a fragrance that can work on a daily basis, a signature scent, in any season and any time of day or night.
Number four, we have Guerlain Vetiver.
Now although today known more for their cosmetics, Guerlain was originally founded in 1828 as a fragrance house. They introduced this one, Vetiver, in 1959, and it’s supposedly inspired by Jean-Paul Guerlain’s Gardener, the smell of tobacco and soil. It has top notes of bergamot, lemon, neroli, and coriander. Heart notes are vetiver and cedar. And base notes, tobacco, nutmeg, pepper, and tonka bean. So if you’re familiar with any other type of vetiver fragrances, this is different than those. Vetiver of course is a grass that is native to India, and vetiver fragrances tend to have a very grassy scent, a very smooth scent, and they can tend to dry down kind of on the soapy side. With Guerlain Vetiver, on the other hand, you do get that underlying grassy vetiver essence, But it’s not so front and center. What’s interesting about this is that from the first spray there is a sharpness to this fragrance and a sort of woodsyness that makes it much more recognizably masculine than, say, other vetiver fragrances. This lasts quite long, six to eight hours on my skin, and is another great all-arounder signature scent material.
Number five is the original Eight & Bob.
Now this is a fragrance with a great story. It was created by Albert Fouquet who was the son of a Parisian aristocrat. He started making fragrances for his own personal use and in 1937, as the story goes, Albert ran into a young JFK who was vacationing on the French Riviera. Kennedy was apparently so captivated by this fragrance that he persuaded Albert
to deliver a sample to his hotel the following morning. Albert’s note to JFK famously said, “In this bottle you will find the dash of French glamor “that your American personality lacks.” When JFK got back to the States, he requested some more samples and the rest is history. It’s a fragrance that became favored not only by JFK but people like Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and many other Hollywood producers and directors. This fragrance is elegant but I will say that it’s different than you would expect. Top notes are cardamom,lemon, and pink pepper. Heart notes, dried wood,labdanum, and violet leaves. Base notes, amber, sandalwood, and vetiver. This fragrance definitely opens up with the citrus and peppery notes, but that quickly goes down into a more woodsy, slightly floral scent. But what eventually
takes over is the amber. You really have to like amber to like this fragrance. It becomes very smooth, a little powdery.
For those reasons I think this works best for me as an evening fragrance. It has a very old school glamor to it which I imagine pairing perfectly with a white dinner jacket or something similar. Formal but not overly stuffy. This has amazing longevity. If you wear it at night you’ll definitely still smell it on your skin the next morning. I’m gonna say this fragrance is not for everyone. It’s not necessarily as universal as some of the ones we’ve talked about so far, but it’s got a great history, a great story, and it is a fantastic fragrance. Eight & Bob Original.
Number six is Creed’s Green Irish Tweed.
The House of Creed was founded in 1760 and its first commission was to create a scent for King George III. It wasn’t until 1970 actually that Creed fragrances became available to the public, and Green Irish Tweed was introduced in 1985. It was created by Olivier Creed who was a sixth generation Descendant of the original founders of the House of Creed. Green Irish Tweed really is one of those rockstar classic fragrances, and it’s a gateway for many people into the world of niche fragrances. It’s classified as a woody, fresh fragrance, also known as a very classic fougere. Top notes are lemon, verbena, and peppermint. Heart notes, violet leaves, and base notes are Florentine iris, sandalwood, and ambergris. This fragrance is absolutely unmistakable. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like this fragrance, both men and women. It’s fresh, it’s distinct without being weird if that makes any sense, like people will notice it but for good reasons. Very highly complimented fragrance. It’s good any time of day, any season of the year. I know some people who wear this for more formal occasions but for me it’s a little
too fresh for that. I like to have a little more spice and warmth when I’m dressing more formally. This is one you could definitely blind buy and be super confident that you are going to love it.
Number seven, Acqua di Parma Colonia.
Now this is one of the classic citrus fragrances. Some say it is the scent of classic 1930s Italy. It’s light, it’s carefree, it’s glamorous, it’s sophisticated, and it’s elegant in its simplicity. It has those classic glamorous overtones I think in part because it was a favorite scent of style icons like Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, and David Niven. Top notes here are lemon, sweet orange, and Calabrian bergamot. Heart notes, lavender, Bulgarian rose, verbena, and rosemary. Base notes, vetiver, sandalwood, and patchouli.
Don’t let all those notes fool you because this is a very simple, very citrusy fragrance; from the first spray it is just a blast of lemon. A wonderful and elegant blast of lemon, but for me there’s really not anything that is super complex about this fragrance which is one of the reasons that it is so classic. This to me is definitely more of a summer fragrance. This is the one I put on when we’re going to the pool or the beach, I always bring it with me on summer vacation. My only gripe about Acqua di Parma Colonia is that it doesn’t last long at all. After about an hour or two completely disappears.
Number eight, Blenheim Bouquet
here we have another classic citrusy fragrance, this is Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon’s. It was created in 1902 for the Duke of Marlborough. It’s also known to be another favorite of Winston Churchill as well as the head of Fiat and global style icon Gianni Agnelli. Top notes are lemon, lime, and lavender. No heart notes here. And base notes are pine, musk, and black pepper. On the Penhaligon’s website it says that Blenheim Bouquet Is as dry and fresh as the best gin, and I think that’s a really, really apt description for this fragrance. It has a nice sharpness to it which is a contrast to the more sweet notes of the Acqua di Parma Colonia. It kind of makes sense, Acqua di Parma Colonia is Italian, Blenheim Bouquet is British. As far as the citrus here, I get more of a lime scent instead of lemon. As a citrus fragrance, I see this as more of a summer scent. Again, doesn’t have a super long staying power but it does last longer than the Acqua di Parma Colonia. I get about two to four hours with this one.
Number nine is Ralph Lauren Polo Green.
Introduced in 1978, this one is known as a classic masculine fragrance. It’s warm, it’s got some spice and it has a very sexy feel. Top notes include pine, lavender, juniper, and basil. Heart notes include coriander, marjoram, jasmine, and thyme. Base notes include oakmoss, patchouli, leather, and cedar. On the opening, what you smell first is the pine. It cuts through very sharply. That doesn’t last long though; in about 15 to 20 minutes that sharpness is completely gone And you have a more elegant kind of deeply masculine overall scent, though definitely still hints of pine. Because this fragrance is on the heavier side, I consider it to be more of a fall/winter fragrance. I actually love this in the wintertime. It is more intense too which makes it not the best choice for an office environment, but where this really works well for me is the evening. Going out to a cocktail lounge, going out to a nice meal or an event.
This is a great fragrance for anything like that.
Finally, number 10.
Old Spice classic aftershave. I know I’m probably gonna catch some flack for this one, but hear me out on this. So one of the things that I think makes fragrance so compelling and so evocative is that it has this ability to conjure up feelings of nostalgia. When you smell something, you can remember a time, somewhere you were, how you felt, people that you were with. That’s the case with Old Spice for me in that sense. I guess it’s more of a personal choice but this is what my grandfather always wore. It reminds me of him, it reminds me of the time I spent with him, and it really is just an old school classic scent. It was introduced in 1938, it is classified as an Oriental spicy fragrance.
Top notes, nutmeg, lemon, orange, star anise, and aldehydes. Middle notes are carnation, jasmine, geranium, cinnamon, heliotrope, and pimento. And base notes, ambergris, benzoin, cedar, vanilla, tonka bean, and musk. To me, this just smells like Old Spice. And you probably know it as well. It’s a very classic masculine scent.
It’s what my grandfather wore it’s probably what your grandfather wore. I love wearing this from time to time, it makes me feel good. People will always notice it and it’s a good conversation starter. When it comes down to it, fragrance is a very personal thing. These are all classics but they might not be the fragrance for you. I think they’re all, with a couple exceptions, pretty conservative, on the safe side,
And extremely versatile. The two wild cards in there, in my opinion, are Kinze Ten and Eight & Bob Original. These are classic fragrances but ones I think that might not connect with people right away in the same way that, say, Eau Sauvage or a Green Irish Tweed would. So let me know what you thought of my picks for the greatest classic men’s fragrances of all time. Do you agree? Are there some you would leave out? What are some of your picks? Leave those down in the comments and let’s get that discussion going.
Most if not all of the fragrances I mentioned in this post are available on the website so go take a look around .