Because looking good is only half the battle we’re starting a new feature here on MFL: Men’s Cologne. After all, when you’re suited & booted for work or play you want to smell just as fine as your outift, don’t you? Now, we don’t claim to be the world’s greatest experts on men’s scents or be the biggest noses (that’s perfume speak for “connoisseur”). But we know what smells good to us. We don’t really mess around with unisex scents or go in much for stuff that smells like a fudge browny. We’re also not afraid to go back in time to pick something classic from the 70s or the 80s or even older. Who says you can’t wear something your dad rocked back in the day? On rare occasions sometimes we may even go hunting an old vintage or discontinued frag. But we’re definitely not afraid to try something new or popular.
That said, we also don’t want to be identified as “Cologne Guy.” A man’s fragrance should certainly be noticed in a positive fashion, maybe even complimented, but it shouldn’t speak louder than he does or try too hard. When you’ve got the right cologne on it compliments but doesn’t drown out your other positive qualities. In other words, you don’t want people saying “Nice suit but what the hell was that smell?” In short, we want to smell manly and good, just as a guy should, and from here on out we’ll be sharing our favorite and not so favorite colognes with you and our honest opinions of them. If you’re then tempted to try one or two on our recommendation then have at it. Keep in mind that smell is a very personal sense and you may not always agree with what we choose to wear. But we think that more often than not you’ll like what we’re spritzing on, as well as our advice on how and where to use it. It’s a big wide world out there and smell is one of the most subliminal and effective ways to communicate your own personal cool — might as well try out some new fragrances to help you feel your best and put the finishing touches on your style.
Before we get to the reviews, here are a few basics on terminology that will make the discussion easier.
Basic concentrations of cologne by strength:
- Eau de Cologne (EDC) — Generally a lighter grade of scent, perhaps a little stronger than aftershave but doesn’t last long and generally is not that powerful smelling, though some may start out strong/loud. Most EDC’s are sort of eye openers to start the day before graduating to something more substantial.
- Eau de Toillette (EDT) — The most common strength for most premium men’s fragrances — you & I may refer to it as “cologne” but chances are any given fragrance off the shelf with any lasting power is going to be an Eau de Toilette. Can be strong and long lasting depending on the scent but generally reasonably moderate in both departments.
- Eau de Parfum (EDP) — A stronger concentration than an EDT, an Eau de Parfum allows the perfumer to enhance the depth and lasting power of a fragrance generally speaking. While it should always smell similar to the EDP version, an EDP (often marketed as “intense” these days) can also take some liberties that essentially turn it into an entirely new scent (for example the differences between the classic Eau Sauvage by Dior and the modern EDP version). Generally powerful and long lasting and for guys who are comfortable wearing something with a lot of strength behind it. When in doubt, start with the Eau de Toilette then graduate to the Eau de Parfum.
- Parfum — Also called simply Perfume or extrait de parfum/perfume extract, this is the least diluted strength of a fragrance and therefore the most powerful. This doesn’t really come up that often for men’s scents unless you are deep into intense fragrance and are a niche fan or serious scent head. Only for the very brave, ballsy and experienced.
Important Qualities for a Fragrance:
- Longevity: Self-explanitory, this is how long a fragrance lasts. This can vary from person to person depending on skin type and other factors like the weather like temperature and relative humidity. This is not directly connected to the power of the fragrance per se, as even when your cologne is no longer making an impression on anyone more than a foot away, if you can still smell it on your skin (“skin scent”) then that still represents longevity. And more often than not, fragrances linger longer on clothing than on one’s skin.
- Sillage: A French word (pronounced see-yazh) that refers to your personal vapor trail while wearing a fragrance. It essentially defines the way your cologne wafts in the air and can be detected by others. Generally speaking, if you are wearing something pleasant and that you like, sillage is desirable in that you are making a statement with your cologne so other people should be able to detect it in a subtle but perceptible manner.
- Projection: Sometimes used interchangeably with sillage, projection is slightly different in that it refers to the sort of radius that your chosen scent throws off. Does your cologne enter the room before you do? That’s projection. If you gesture with your hands a few hours after applying your cologne and a pleasant waft of it is newly stirred up, that is more like sillage. Some people love colognes with a lot of projection and some prefer to keep it a bit closer to the body. Depends on what kind of guy you are, the social setting you’re in — maybe what you wear to a nightclub is not so appropriate for the office — and how much of a statement you want to make.