Perfumes That Never Offend My Coworkers


Post by FeralJasmine


I work with a fantastic bunch of ladies. We have all been together for several years now, and couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. We know each other’s thought patterns, can predict each other pretty well, and have no serious trouble making decisions by concensus.

So when does the serpent enter paradise? Usually it has to do with perfume. My good colleagues are (thank The Lord and/or Lady) very outspoken and not given to passive aggression, which means that when I wear a scent that one of them doesn’t like, I am going to hear about it. Sometimes this is pretty damn funny: one of them calls anything that she dislikes “patchouli,” which leads to hilarious remarks like “I don’t like that patchouli perfume you’re wearing today” when I’m drifting around in Chanel #5. Aldehydes are a total no-go. Gagging pantomimes greet anything too sweet.

Perfumes That Never Offend My Coworkers

So what does work? I have a stable of stuff that draws purely positive comment. To my surprise, two of them are patchouli scents (but don’t tell my colleague!) Vanillas are happily tolerated if they aren’t too sweet, confirming my suspicion that for many of us, vanilla is THE primal comfort scent. The players are:

Boyfriend Kate Walsh FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Kate Walsh Boyfriend: this lovely warm patchouli-plum-tobacco scent is miles above the usual celebrity perfume and therefore is discontinued, but is still readily available on eBay. I have stocked up and will not be bidding against you.

Unknown Pleasures Kerosene FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Kerosene Unknown Pleasures: Earl Grey tea followed by a soft slightly sweet bakery vanilla. What’s not to like? This one is a great value, and I have obtained a backup bottle.

Lira Xerjoff FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Xerjoff Lira: An exquisite soft vanilla that wafts in the most delicate and appealing way. Unfortunately, it is also $285 a bottle, which works out to quite a bit per waft. Still, I wear it sometimes because there is nothing quite like it. But Unknown Pleasures, after the somewhat brash lemony opening, ends up in much the same place for less than half the price, so no back-up bottles of Lira for me.

Pink Gardenia DSH Perfumes FragranticaPhoto Stolen DSH Perfumes

DSH Pink Gardenia: my one objection to Ms. Hurwitz’s vanillic gardenia is that it is too civilized and private. Which is why I can wear it to work to universal approval. Nobody is aware of it unless they happen to get very close, and then they like it. Now, if only she made a louder version to put on when I get home…

Coze Parfumerie Generale FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

PG Coze: I can’t get my mind around wearing this one to work. But I did once, by mistake, and people loved it. Even the Patchouli-Slaying Queen commented on the lovely spicy resins. So I wear it once in a while at work, and a lot on weekends.

Here are a couple of sample sites that you can go see to try these.
Surrender To Chance
Posh Peasant
My Perfume Samples

I should add that I have dry perfume-euthanizing skin and these might not be subtle enough on everyone. But unless your workplace forbids perfume, there is something that you can get away with. Solicit honest feedback from a few work-buddies, and pay careful attention to what they say. After all, it’s their airspace too!

FeralJasmine X

21 comments on “Perfumes That Never Offend My Coworkers

  1. julesinrose says:

    Thanks for this post. I work at home but am just about to start working outside the home a few days a week and pretty much resigned myself to going scentless. I still may. After all, it’s just two days. I think you are right that vanilla is a universal comfort scent. There are many places where I live that have “This is a scent free zone” signs. They should simply say “perfume free” because I can smell peoples’ shampoo and indeed, sometimes, too much fabric softener emanating from clothes. . .Anyhoo, hi, I’ve been a lurker, btw. Cheers!

    • FeralJasmine says:

      So delighted that you unlurked! Yes, I am often amused by the incredible variety of strong smells of shampoo, hairspray, laundry products, etc in. “Scent free” zones. Might just as well wear perfume!

  2. australianperfumejunkies says:

    This is an excellent premise for a post. I love it. Though I’m not constricted in my fragrant wearings I can understand how hard it must be to limit yourself.
    Portia xx

    • FeralJasmine says:

      I am used to it now, and every now and then I get an unexpected positive response, like the Coze. Next week I plan to try a small spray of Moon Bloom. Who could hate Moon Bloom?

  3. Jackie b says:

    Working with students in a ballet studio, I find most deodorants and hairspray more effusive than perfumes, but I tend to go unfragranced at work. Sulkily.
    I love Bottega Veneta as non offensive though, and sometimes naughtily spray my one else is going there anyway.

    • FeralJasmine says:

      I would far rather smell your perfume than most people’s deodorants. I have a real problem with this at my gym, where there is sometimes such a heavy fug of male deodorant that it seems stifling to me. Not that the alternative would necessarily be better…

  4. Azar says:

    I really loved this post, FeralJasmine!
    Yes, it is everyone’s airspace. Even so I wear what pleases me and there is a simple reason I can do this. Even though I load myself down with the most brash tuberose, gardenia or oriental in the morning, and enjoy it all day, by the time I start working in the late afternoon the morning application is nothing but a memory. In forty years there has been nary a wrinkled nose and only one comment from a 5 years old. I will never forget the sweet expression on his face as he looked up from the piano and in the most dulcit tones proclaimed that I smelled just like his grandmother. Of course that was a beautiful compliment but, at the time, I was not yet a grandmother. I was wearing Grossmith Hasu-No Hana and have rarely used it since.
    Azar xx

  5. Eleebelle says:

    It’s funny that you mention Boyfriend. My coworkers liked it and to this day, is somehow one of the only perfumes I’ve EVER even gotten a comment on, but after a few months of wearing it, it actually started making ME gag. In a fit, I actually threw the bottle away, and now I really wish I hadn’t. At least I kept my mini rollerball.

    • FeralJasmine says:

      Funny how our scent perceptions change, isn’t it. I love 7 Billion Hearts all winter, but on the first warm day I come to actively loathe it, and continue to hate it until cool weather arrives again. Maybe you will like your rollerball again sometime in the future. Thanks for joining us!

  6. Undina says:

    I think it’s a healthy group dynamic when people can tell if they don’t like each other’s perfumes: one thing is not to comment on your friend’s perfume at a party where you can just walk away (and even if not, it’ll be over in a couple of hours) and another thing is to waft some annoying scent day after day.

    Since I’m a manager and most people who have to experience my perfumes report to me, I make sure 1) not to overuse any perfumes and 2) repeat again and again that if somebody finds any particular perfume offensive they should let me know because with the number of perfumes in my wardrobe there is absolutely no reason for anybody to suffer when I can easily exclude the “offender” perfume from the office rotation.

    Believe it or not but I haven’t tried any of the perfumes you’ve mentioned. Among my office-friendly perfumes are most of Jo Malone’s perfumes, Annick Goutal Petite Cherie and Hermès Rose Ikebana. The most complimented perfume Tom Ford Violet Blonde.
    Undina recently posted…Make Way for hajusuuri – Perfume Shopping in BostonMy Profile

    • FeralJasmine says:

      Undina, it is so very thoughtful of you to keep in mind that people who report to you may be hesitant to express their opinion unless encouraged. The Jo Malones would certainly be inoffensive on me, because nobody could smell them! I’m glad that others have better luck with the line. And you make me realize that Violet Blonde is the one Tom Ford that I’ve never sampled. Must rectify that!

  7. Paul Kiler says:

    I bet the Ladies would go bonkers over PK Perfumes’ Carissa… 🙂

  8. I certainly concurr with Boyfriend as an office selection. In fact too bad that it was discontinued. As to Pink Gardenia, oh that’s one of my favorites from DSH! You have good taste!

    Great idea for a post, this is a problem that dogs a large number of people.

    • FeralJasmine says:

      Smell is such an individual thing, and when you encounter one that you don’t like it’s bothersome on such a visceral level that I want to make sure I’m not doing that to anyone. And I am so glad that you like a Pink Gardenia. I have already written to Ms. Hurwitz asking her never to discontinue it. Have you tried the parfum? It is gorgeous.

  9. Liz K says:

    Gosh I’m lucky to have no perfume-phobes in my office. If a patient complained we would probably have to rein it in but so far we’ve been good. If someone even comments I’m surprised but the universally complimented ones are Pear + Olive, What I Did on my Vacation, and Lyric Woman on me and Agent Provocateur, J’Adore, and one of the Toccas, Cleopatra I think, on my mother in law. I did bravely wear a small amount of MKK the other day and nobody said I stank, which surprised me. I’m pretty sure that everyone I work with and most of our patients would speak up if offended. That usually isn’t an issue 😉

    • FeralJasmine says:

      Agent Provocateur is a real beauty, isn’t it. Amazing that something if that beauty can be picked up cheaply on EBay. I adore MKK, but don’t think I will try that one at work. But I admire your bravery!

  10. ainslie says:

    Great article!! Lots of food for thought! x

  11. Sherry says:

    As a nurse I am careful what I wear. Let me just say though that I feel naked without scent and being a menopausal being 🙂 scent helps with that hot flash southern glow! Your blog posts are divine.

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