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It smells like firewood, cabins, and apple picking in here.
Scents are a powerful way to elicit a certain emotion. We assign scents to memories, to people, to feelings, and even seasons, which is why I’m a huge advocate for rotating through different perfumes throughout the year. And like pairing a glass of wine with a certain meal, I need my fall perfume to pair well with the smell of browning leaves, the fire burning in the living room, and the pumpkin patch I’m visiting on the weekend. It makes the experience all the more memorable, and whenever I long for that warm fuzzy feeling again, all I have to do is take a good whiff of my fall perfume.
Perfume aficionado Bailee Wiard, who reviews and recommends perfumes to her nearly 70k followers, says that fall should be accompanied by “heavier fragrances as they won’t be too cloying with the cool weather, with notes like vanilla, amber, cardamon, and sandalwood being perfect for the crisp transitioning weather.”
Needless to say, I took rounding up the best fall perfumes for you very seriously. So much so that I tested nearly all of the products I’m recommending here myself, and for the few I didn’t, Kaitlin Clark, InStyle’s senior beauty commerce editor, did. As we sniffed, we took into consideration how each scent made us feel, whether the notes were nicely balanced, potent or subtle, as well as how long they lasted on our skin. We found dreamy fall perfumes perfect for a night out as well as daytime appropriate perfumes for our daily activities. We made sure to find something that would suit all fragrance palettes, activities, and occasions.
Best Overall: Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum
What We Love: It comes in five different sizes.
What We Don’t Love: The bottle is not that pretty.
What’s more fall than a hot cup o’ coffee and some spiced vanilla? Well, that’s what this perfume smells like. It’s got an edgy and sexy feel to it, but not in the in-your-face kind of way. It holds back with a more humble aura, comfortably letting you sit in your self-assuredness. White flowers keep the scent from feeling too heavy, making you feel warm and safe but also ready for a night’s adventure. While I don’t think the bottle is particularly pretty (but each to their own aesthetic), it does represent the contents within it well. It’s dark and mysterious with a sparkly personality. If you’re unsure whether you’ll like the smell, there’s a mini size that’s only 0.33 ounces. Anybody else can choose between five sizes, going up to a whopping five ounces.
Price at time of publish: $155
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Coffee, vanilla, white flowers | Size: 3 oz
Best Budget: Fine'ry I'm a Musk Fragrance Perfume
What We Love: It smells a lot more luxurious than the price suggests.
What We Don’t Love: The initial application feels a little overwhelming, but it settles into skin nicely throughout the day.
I was a little skeptical about trying a budget perfume as I’m sensitive to certain scents that hit the back of my throat, giving me a headache. However I was pleasantly surprised with how friendly and pleasant this option was. As a matter of fact, had I done a blind test I would have priced this option much higher than the $34 it commands.
I’m a Musk is a dreamy and delightful scent made up of musk, which can best be described as sweet and woodsy with floral undertones, and a bit of a creamy vanilla. Because it’s a pure perfume, one spritz comes on quite strong. The intensity worried me at first, but it turned out to be a positive feature and helped it to last longer. After a full day out, I could still smell the soft touch of the perfume on my wrist.
Price at time of publish: $34
Type: Perfume | Notes: Musk, cotton blossom, creamy sandalwood | Size: 2.02 oz
Best Splurge: Byredo Rouge Chaotique
What We Love: It blends in spices and floral notes luxuriously.
What We Don’t Love: It’s more of a sultry evening perfume than a daytime one.
Byredo has made a name for itself as one of the most sought-after luxury beauty and fragrance companies. After trying their newest fragrance, Rouge Chaotique (which by the way, is the coolest name I’ve seen in a while), I could see what the hype was all about. The first whiff of this perfume screamed fall into my nose. Immediately, images of walking through colorful foliage and sitting by a bonfire came to mind, thanks to the blend of bergamot, cassis, and saffron. It’s got a sweet, yet spiced aroma that’s unlike any other I’ve tried.
Rather than a daytime scent, however, I would consider this a sultry evening perfume. Luckily, the night comes in quicker in the fall so you can have more hours to wear this. This perfume is even more potent than the one from Fine’ry, making a little go a long way — a valuable perk considering the hefty price tag.
Price at time of publish: $350
Type: Extrait de parfum | Notes: Bergamot, saffron, cassis, plum, oakwood | Size: 1.7 oz
Best Unisex: Loewe 7 Eau de Toilette
What We Love: It’s an easy, fresh, clean-smelling daytime perfume.
What We Don’t Love: If you’re feeling moody, you may want to choose something else.
If you’re not a big fan of feminine perfumes and enjoy a bit of that unisex appeal, this eau de toilette from Loewe is the one. It has a very fresh, slightly minty, post-shower kind of appeal that can be worn by both men and women. Luckily, at 3.4 ounces, it’s almost double in size of the traditional perfume bottle, making it all the more possible to share with a partner.
As an eau the toilette, it’s less potent than a traditional perfume, adding to the lightweight allure. I like to spritz this on when I want just a little something that’s subtle and pleasant that I can wear every day and not just on a night out.
Price at time of publish: $135
Type: Eau de toilette | Notes: Incense, red pepper berries, red apple | Size: 3.4 oz
Best Musk: Le Labo Another 13 Eau de Parfum
What We Love: It’s totally unique and even if you don’t love it, you can’t stop smelling it.
What We Don’t Love: The label gets attached manually and can be crooked from bottle to bottle.
“I wandered into the Le Labo boutique in Soho a few years ago thinking I’d join the club and get a bottle of Santal, but as I spritzed my way down the line of perfumes, I stopped in my tracks when I got a whiff of this one,” says Kaitlin Clark, senior beauty commerce editor. “It’ll smell different on each person, but that’s one of the qualities I like best. It’s a little musky, a little woodsy, and gets me excited for adventure. It’s been my signature scent ever since.”
It even caught the attention of a pastry chef as Clark was standing in line at a bakery, who complimented her perfume for being “unlike anything else,” which, in our opinion, is one of the best compliments you can receive when it comes to perfumes because who wants to smell like everyone else?
Just be aware that the label gets placed on manually by hand, which means it sometimes arrives crooked or in the case of one shopper, completely upside down.
Price at time of publish: $99
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Jasmine petals, moss, woody amber | Size: Multiple, starting from 0.5 oz
Best Smoky: Dries Van Noten Rock the Myrrh
What We Love: It’s rich and smokey without feeling overbearingly heavy.
What We Don’t Love: The earthy and mature scent is not the perfume for everyday wear.
More from Clark’s vanity is this Dries Van Noten perfume. Besides the fact that the bottle is a striking work of art, Clark says that “each of the designer’s 10 gender neutral scents are rich and powerful, but not absurd or offensively intense.”
This one in particular surprised Clark the most, because although she typically steers away from smokey notes, like benzoin or dusty old cypress, the Rock The Myrrh option is “delightfully surprising, balancing between a trio of smoky, spicy, and woody in a way that I just can’t get enough.”
She does caveat that you have to be in a certain mood to wear it. The earthy and grounded smell is not for the free-spirited fruity or floral personality. Instead, Clark likes to wear it when she wants to feel sophisticated and centered.
Price at time of publish: $320
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Myrrh, patchouli, suede, cypress | Size: 3.4 oz
Best Luxury: Burberry My Burberry
What We Love: It’s warm and spicy while also feminine and floral.
What We Don’t Love: It’s not the longest lasting perfume.
The risk in buying a luxury perfume is ending up smelling like the masses who all purchase the same popular fragrance. If you want to keep a bit of your individuality but still feel luxurious, senior editor Shannon Bauer highly recommends her favorite perfume, Burberry My Burberry. “This is an underrated perfume. It’s feminine and sophisticated, floral but spicy and warm, noticeable but not cloying.”
The notes that stick out to her at first are golden quince and freesia, which then melt into the patchouli and richer floral layers. “It’s a complex, warm, tangy, floral scent that really suits the moodier fall weather,” she says. Although it won’t linger on skin for more than a few hours, you’ll be the most alluring person in the room during the ones it does.
Price at time of publish: $129
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Bergamot oil, geranium oil, rose absolute | Size: 1.6 oz
Best Floral: Ganiyu Onto You
What We Love: It’s both organic and cruelty-free.
What We Don’t Love: It’s not as long-lasting as some of the other options on this list.
New to the scene is the buzzy fragrance brand Ganiyu. Founded by Nimotalai Ganiyu, a first generation American by way of Nigeria, Ganiyu saw a gap in the European-centric fragrance industry with the way it neglected to prioritize Black consumers and culture. So, she did it herself.
Launching Onto You, Ganiyu brings us into a peaceful world of bergamot (a common note among fall fragrances), ylang ylang, and amber. It’s floral and citrusy all at once for a perfume that is almost addicting, as each note comes together in a well-balanced and flirty finish. It’s the kind of scent that would make me chase down the woman wearing it just to ask where it’s from. I love the feeling of being one of the only ones with this scent on, as it’s not one of the more popular perfumes from Chanel and Dior — it lets me feel confident in my unique self. Because it’s an eau de parfum, it’s not as strong or as long-lasting as something that is pure perfume.
Price at time of publish: $88
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Bergamot, ylang ylang, musky amber | Size: 1.7 oz
Best Long-Lasting: Annie Bing Rose Wood Eau De Parfum
What We Love: It lasts the whole day without coming on too strong.
What We Don’t Love: It’s only available in one large size.
At the end of a long day, I sometimes wonder if I have simply gotten used to the smell of my perfume and I can’t smell it anymore or if the scent has actually faded. However, I never become nose blind to Rose Wood.
Although the parfum starts off sweet and gentle, it remains present throughout the whole day. Whenever I want a good whiff of the scent, I simply hold my wrist up to my nose and enjoy the smell of smoked rose, crisp florals, and sandalwood, even after hours of wear.
This perfume also has the power to flip my mood, making me feel like my flirtiest and smartest self. I call it my ‘new beginnings’ perfume — I wear it before meeting someone new, starting a new project, or welcoming a new season because it never fails to give me a helpful boost of confidence.
It only comes in a 3.4 ounce bottle with no smaller version available, so it’s a bit of a commitment once you purchase. Believe me when I say you won’t regret it, however!
Price at time of publish: $150
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Smoked rose, amber, sandalwood, crisp florals | Size: 3.4 oz
Best Amber: Maison Margiela 'Replica' Jazz Club Eau de Parfum
What We Love: The rich ambers and smooth leathers are spiked with pepper, culminating in a moody and sensual vibe.
What We Don’t Love: It’s more of a unisex scent, so those looking for a very feminine appeal won’t find it here.
Don’t let the eau de toilette fool you, says Clark. One of the scent’s most striking features is its long-lasting nature, which is “unlike every single other eau de toilette I’ve tried that evaporates within the hour.”
Its Jazz Club moniker is also very fitting. “Iit’s almost like I really did spend the night at a tiny, locals only, moody jazz bar with a fragrant haziness that lingers on your skin well into the next day.” Alluring for both men and women, this fragrance simply oozes old New York.
Clark has it in a candle form as well, or used to, as her boyfriend’s mother grabbed it, saying that “the woody notes are a perfect match” for their lake house in the Adirondacks. And even without actually lighting the candle, the fragrant wax is strikingly strong, wafting throughout the room, climbing up the walls and making its presence known.
Price at time of publish: $160
Type: Eau de toilette | Notes: Tobacco leaf absolute, rum absolute, pink pepper | Size: 3.4 oz
Best Fruity: Hermès Twilly d'Hermès Eau de Parfum
What We Love: It comes in three different sizes.
What We Don’t Love: The floral scent may feel less like fall.
While I’m far away from ever owning an Hermès Birkin bag, owning one of their perfumes and smelling like the opulent brand is not as far out of reach. While fall might not make you think of fresh fruits and citrusy scents, anyone who prefers warmer weather can douse themselves in this lively scent and bring a bit of that vibrant weather into autumn.
Seriously, who doesn’t want a little more life around them as things begin to hibernate? So please, spritz this ginger blossom perfume with hints of lychee and musk onto yourself and inhale slowly. You’ll feel instantly warmer and calmer. It comes in three different sizes so there’s something for all.
Price at time of publish: $95
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Ginger blossom, lychee, musk | Size: 1.01 oz
Best Vanilla : Boy Smells Vanilla Era
What We Love: A single spritz lasts the entire day.
What We Don’t Love: It’s very sweet, which may not be for everyone.
Those who love vanilla, love vanilla, and this scent from Boy Smells jazzes up this classic note with unexpected pairings. When I received this perfume, I was at first very impressed with the packaging — the bottle itself makes a beautiful decorative piece on my dresser.
Once I tried the fragrance for myself, the first thing I noticed was that the presence of vanilla was very commanding. However it’s blended with a bit of tulip and beetroot, distinguishing it from your average sweet perfume to something more mature and mysterious. It’s a very syrupy scent, so if a candy-coated vibe isn’t your style, you should opt for another on this list.
Price at time of publish: $98
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Vanilla, white tulip, beetroot, coffee | Size: 2.2 oz
Best Gourmand: Ellis Brooklyn Apple Love Eau de Parfum
What We Love: Notes of vanilla, sandalwood, and praline help temper the sweetness for a nuanced scent that all can enjoy.
What We Don’t Love: The bottle isn’t clear, which makes it hard to gauge how full it is.
What’s more reminiscent of fall than apples — apple picking, hot apple cider, apple pie… it’s the season for this red round fruit and Ellis Brooklyn tastefully bottled it up for us to enjoy. “I don’t think I had ever smelled a perfume that was so completely identical to a fruit or floral until I tried this one,” says Clark. “It smells like you’re taking a bite of a crunchy red apple, but then it unfolds into a sweet, soft vanilla.”
That’s to say, it doesn’t start and end with apples — instead, it has a more sophisticated and mature aura to it that anyone and everyone can enjoy. Sandalwood lends a bit of its hand to bring the cozy vibes up, while notes of praline hint at the start of winter and the holiday season.
Because the bottle isn’t clear, however, we could never quite tell how empty it is getting, which makes us feel a little cautious every time we use it.
Price at time of publish: $110
Type: Eau de parum | Notes: Red apple, sugar cane, madagascar vanilla, sandalwood, praline | Size: 1.7 oz
Best Oud: Jo Malone London Velvet Rose & Oud Cologne Intense
What We Love: It smells very seductive and is a great option for nights out.
What We Don’t Love: It’s not particularly long lasting.
In the world of perfumery, the scent of oud is somewhat synonymous with seduction. The woodsy, dry scent feels rich and mysterious, communicating a more serious tone into the atmosphere. This option from Jo Malone pairs the well-loved aura with soft velvet rose, which in my opinion, is like a match made in heaven.
The earthy and floral notes go hand in hand to bring a sultry and confident attitude forward. It makes for a phenomenal evening perfume — think date nights and fancy dinners. We are sad to say it won’t last the entire night, but for a few exciting evening hours, it’s perfect.
Price at time of publish: $160
Type: Cologne | Notes: Oud, damask rose, clove | Size: 1.7 oz
Best Evening: Dossier Spicy Orchid
What We Love: You’ll get a designer-inspired scent, but with clean ingredients and a much more affordable price tag.
What We Don’t Love: It's a little heady and perhaps too sexy for everyday occasions.
As we slip into the night, the want for something a little more sultry and adventurous comes to life. Fragrance label Dossier likes to remix classic perfumes and make them more affordable to the wider audience. In this case, tbe brand found inspiration in Tom Ford’s Black Orchid perfume — it’s the sincerest form of flattery, no?
A cocktail of cinnamon, pink pepper, ylang ylang, sandalwood, orchid, and plum, the scent is a harbinger of evenings out on a crisp autumn day. This spicy beauty is quite a sexy perfume, so we’re just as fine to cuddle up on a date night at home. From our experience, Dossier perfumes are long-lasting and created with clean ingredients in a cruelty-free manner.
Price at time of publish: $39
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Cinnamon, pink pepper, ylang ylang, sandalwood, orchid, plum | Size: 1.7 oz
Best Earthy: Relevant 13 Stems
What We Love: It comes in an 0.27 ounce rollerball that can be easily stowed inside a handbag to reapply throughout the day.
What We Don’t Love: If you do carry it in your bag, it will make the contents of your bag smell perfumy as well.
As I carried two armfuls of boxes into my apartment, I caught the scent of something so delicious I started sniffing on each box like a dog trying to find where it was coming from. It was this perfume from Relevant, I found out, and for the first time in a long time, I fell in deep love with a scent.
Perhaps it’s because I’m an earthy gal myself, always escaping to the forest, that this scent makes me feel so calm and at ease. With a foundation of cucumber and bamboo, 13 Stems weaves top notes of light freesia, herbaceous green peppercorn with sweet violet leaf and rich bits of leather.
It smells natural, light and evokes visions of lush valleys filled with wildflowers. The fact that the perfume formula is clean, developed without phthalates, parabens or sulfates, really brings the pureness home. It comes in a rollerball version in addition to a smaller-than-average bottle. We favor the mini rollerball because a little goes a long way and it makes touch-ups throughout the day a breeze.
Price at time of publish: $39
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Fresia, peppercorn, cucumber, violet leaf, leather, amber | Size: 1.7 oz
Best Everyday : Glossier You
What We Love: Light and calm, it wears like a second skin.
What We Don’t Love: It’s not the most long-lasting scent.
I’m considering this the best everyday perfume because it just so happens to be the perfume I reach for most days. Since testing it for this story, it became clear why it’s such a Tiktok favorite. There’s a certain zen vibe to it that I’d bet is universally pleasant to most palettes.
None of the notes, from white florals to ambrette seeds to pink pepper, feel too overpowering. Instead, it smells very soft, friendly, fresh, and clean. I’ve had multiple people ask me what I’m wearing as I sauntered through my day, and the answer was always this Glossier You eau de parfum. I don’t find it the most long-lasting scent because it is rather gentle. But I find this subtle fresh scent all the better because of it.
Price at time of publish: $68
Type: Eau de parfum | Notes: Pink pepper, ambrette seeds, iris | Size: 1.7 oz
Our Testing Process
In order to write this article, Kratky and Clark tested 15 of the 17 mentioned fall perfumes, spritzing them onto their skin and wearing them out in the wild. Most of the perfumes were provided by brands, along with many others, for consideration. By incorporating these perfumes into their lives over a two-week period, they were able to see how long the scents lasted, whether they remained full bodied or lost potency as the day went on, the impact they had on their moods and senses, as well as the reactions of others nearby.
What to Keep in Mind
Most perfumes come in a 1.7-ounce (50ml) or 3.4-ounce (100ml) bottle, or both. Then there are brands that offer a wider selection of sizes, like Hermès, where its Tutti Twilly perfume is offered in 1.01-ounce and 2.87-ounce bottles. This allows the shopper to test the waters a little before committing to a full-size bottle. Other brands, like the Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum and the Relevant 13 Stems offer even smaller versions in either a mini spray or a rollerball pen, making it easy to bring with you wherever you go and apply touch ups throughout the day. If you’re apprehensive about committing to a big bottle, it wouldn’t hurt to try some of the smaller bottles first. If you are certain you will love the perfume, ordering a larger size gives you more quantity for less money.
As we head into fall, you want to pay extra close attention to the scent notes to ensure they’re bringing forth the best autumnal vibes. Emma, who runs the famed Tiktok account, Perfumerism, reviews several perfumes each week for her 386k followers, says that “fall is the best time for all things that smell like spices.” In particular, she favors aromas like cardamon, vanilla and sandalwood. Boy Smells Vanilla Era Eau de Parfum, Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum, and Dossier Spicy Orchid are all such options.
Meanwhile, amber and musk are also fall favorite for their very warm and cozy feel. To evoke this sensibility, no one does it better than Maison Margiela Replica Jazz Club. And contrary to popular belief, autumn is also a great time to go for something a little more floral, despite not being known as the season of bright flowers. But in fact, fall has a distinct leafy scent in the air that feels both crisp and fresh, and when mixed with notes like ylang ylang and freesia, it’s a light, natural, and feminine masterpiece. You can find them in the Ganiyu Onto You and Relevant 13 Stems, respectively.
Because scent is so closely related to our mood, it helps to have various perfumes that bring out the best (or most appropriate) version of ourselves to match the occasion. Wiard recommends having three different types of fragrances for any occasion. “The first one is an effortless, day-time fragrance that you can always grab on the go, and won't be offensive in any environment.”
We found the Glossier You perfume to be most amicable for everyday situations. “The second would be something that is bold and makes you feel confident for a special occasion coming up, such as date night.” Both Bauer’s favorite, the Burberry My Burberry, and the sensual Dossier Spicy Orchid are great options for this vibe.
“The third fragrance I'd recommend is something you can wear in a professional environment, something that is subtle yet classy.” We recommend the Hermès Tutti Twilly D’Hermès Eau de Parfum and the Relevant 13 Stems for this.
Your Questions, Answered
What’s the difference between perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette?
No, each category is not just a fancy way to say the same thing. Perfume, eau de parfum, and eau de toilette are three different concentration levels of fragrance oils. Emma explains that eau de toilette has the lowest concentration of the three with five to 15 percent perfume oil.
Meanwhile, eau de parfum has a concentration level between eight and 20. Perfume has the highest concentration with over 20 percent. “The exact percentage values will change depending on where you look, but concentration will always be lowest in eau de toilette and highest in perfume,” she says.
What is the best way to apply perfume?
“I like to spray pulse points, so wrists (tap, don’t rub!) and behind the ears on your neck,” says Emma. “You can also spray your clothes for added longevity — the matric of the fabric will blend with your fragrance for a long time.”
Wiard agrees with Emma’s statement, continuing that spritzing onto your neck “is the best spot when hugging someone.” For your wrist, “the fragrance will react with your own unique skin chemistry creating your own scent.”
Lastly, Wiard’s secret tip is spraying some perfume “on the back of the knee, and it will leave a lingering scent trail behind you for others to enjoy.”
How do I make perfume last longer?
There’s no worse feeling than spraying your favorite scent onto yourself only to have it dimmer down in a matter of hours. Wiard has a few tips to make perfume last longer, which include spraying on “hydrated skin and layering your fragrance.”
It’s important to start with a clean surface, so spray your perfume post-shower and post-lotion. Perfumer Frank Voelkl adds that body parts that are warmer (like your neck and wrist) “will have a higher blood circulation which will aid your fragrance in having a stronger effect.”
That being said, it’s a personal experience, and some might find “spraying in the hair and on clothes in addition to the skin helps boost the scent’s longevity.”
Why Shop With Us
Bianca Kratky is a commerce writer at InStyle and has been covering fashion and beauty for three years. For this story, she tested almost all of the mentioned perfumes herself, incorporating them into her daily life and testing how long they last. By making notes on how each perfume smelt and felt, she compiled this list of best fall perfumes. She then consulted perfumers Bailee Wiard, who runs the account Little.miss.perfume, as well as the social media star and perfume reviewer, Emma from Perfumerism, and perfumer Frank Voelkl, for their expert insights.
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Read the original article on InStyle.