Scents for Men: Best Smelling Fragrances & Colognes and When to Wear Them

A tie is to a suit, as a cologne is to a man. One’s outfit is never complete without a scent. After all, not only does a good fragrance help to increase your own confidence, a European study has shown that it’s a serious deciding factor in terms of choosing a partner. Certainly, nothing triggers memories quite like an aroma reminding you of something good and beautiful.

When it comes to choosing your cologne, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Try to avoid trending bestsellers. You don’t want to be smelling like your average Joe – or worse, an ex.
  • Consider the environment you’re in. For instance, sweet and heavy perfumes can be too cloying in hot and humid weather.
  • Stay true to yourself; the scent you choose should accentuate your personality, not drown it out. Find one that can speak for you before you do.

Without further ado, here are some of our top picks to smelling good anytime, anywhere.

Day Casual

For a day of running errands, or a coffee shop sesh, here are three options, each a stunner in its own right.

Dior Homme – Cologne

From the aesthetics to its contents, everything about Dior Homme Cologne screams refined. Concocted by master perfumer Francois Demachy, it only has 3 olfactory notes: Calabrian bergamot (top), grapefruit blossom (middle), white musk (base). Smelling like an ice-cold lemonade, it really shines on hot summer days. Airy, citrusy, and grounded by soft musk, this is a “white shirt gentleman” vibe scent that is refreshing and sophisticated to the nose.

Acqua di Parma – Fico di Amalfi

Juicy fig takes centre stage in Fico di Amalfi. Known for its simple and polished colognes, Italian perfume house Acqua di Parma takes inspiration from the Amalfi coast for this masterpiece. With pink pepper in its heart, the fragrance opens up with top notes of grapefruit, bergamot, and citron, with middle notes of fig nectar, and jasmine. Anchored by base notes of fig and cedarwood, this eau de toilette is airy and pleasantly sweet, with woody and musky undertones to add depth to an effervescent cologne. The unique scent may come across as feminine, so it takes one with confidence to pull off.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian – Petit Matin

Picture the sun setting on a Parisian boulevard with spring in the air. Now translate that into scented waters. Hailing from the house of master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, Petit Matin is a delicate mix of Calabrian lemon, orange blossom, hawthorn accord, lavender, Ambroxan, and musk. Floral, with the citrus accord rounded off by the musk, this scent paints a picture of clean white sheets in an early morning breeze. A citrus scent done to perfection, need we say more?

The Office

Working with colleagues, and being in a (typically) closed, air-conditioned environment means opting for something with a smaller scent bubble, but a pleasant scent trail. You don’t want to suffocate your co-workers at their desktops.

Guerlain – L’Homme Ideal Cologne

French for “the ideal man”, we can’t imagine a better moniker for L’Homme Ideal. Almond features in all versions of this line by Guerlain, but the cologne edition is where it is best showcased, alongside citrus and tonka bean. This understated fragrance smells like a nutty lemon dessert, yet airy enough so it doesn’t get cloying. An inoffensive, yet unique and pleasing scent that will definitely pique the interest of those around you.

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino

From the house of Tom Ford, Neroli Portofino is Portofino air liquified. Top notes include bergamot, bitter orange, lemon, rosemary, and myrtle; in middle notes we have African orange flower, neroli, and jasmine, and base notes feature include amber, angelica and ambrette. Bergamot plays off the ambrette to lend a soft, musky texture, anchoring the citrus flavours. Neroli is known to smell similar to luxurious bar soap, but the citrus here also add a fizz to spice things up.

Escentric Molecules – Molecule 01

Molecule 01 has only one “escentric” ingredient: Iso E Super. A synthetic ingredient with a woody undertone, similar to cedarwood, Iso E Super has an airy nature, yet is extremely rich and warm. As with other colognes, it smells slightly different on different individuals’ skins, but maintains its rich, warm texture. A very inviting scent with a small scent bubble, this is perfect for the office environment.

Date Night

It’s D-Day, and you’re looking to make an impression. Look the part, and smell the part. Swap out the fresh ‘uns for something sweeter and spicier that packs a punch in the olfactory department.

Yves Saint Laurent – La Nuit de L’Homme

Launched in 2009 as the nose-child of perfumers Anne Filpo, Pierre Wargnye, and Dominique Ropion, La Nuit de L’Homme has been the go-to for many on a date night. Sporting its trademark sweet-spicy cardamom note, this cologne is sensual and refined, with notes of woody cedar and earthy vetiver smoothening it out. Highly praised by perfume aficionados and amateurs alike, you can’t go wrong with this as a first date scent.

Parfums de Marly – Layton Exclusif

A more masculine version of its cousin, Layton Royal Essence, Layton Exclusif is decadence in a bottle, where agarwood and coffee inject depth into an already-seductive scent. Luxurious and oriental, this fragrance is bright and sweet, yet woody and exquisitely rounded off by notes of oakmoss and amber. Equally hefty in price, a weighty 125ml bottle from the niche perfumery is yours for a cool S$356, so it’s best for a date night at a fancy restaurant in town.

By Kilian – Black Phantom

Ever wondered how you would smell as an irresistible dessert? Look no further than Kilian Hennessy. Hailing from the famous cognac family, By Kilian applies the same sophistication to perfumery. Accords of sugar cane, almond, and heliotrope swirl in notes of creamy sandalwood, chocolate, caramel, coffee, and boozy rum. Black Phantom is pure, unadulterated indulgence. Perfect for a bespoke evening dinner with your date, and it shines especially in cold environments.

Lounging

Working from home? Spice up your home-bound office life by enjoying a delightful fragrance to lift up your mood while you’re on the grind.

Maison Margiela – By The Fireplace

Imagine a snowstorm on the other side of your window, while you’re flipping through a paperback, and marshmallows are roasting at the fire. Maison Margiela’s Replica line attempts to recreate specific scenes in different locations and times with their fragrances, and this is their most celebrated iteration. Sporting a sweet chestnut accord with vanilla, combined with a hint of smoky, burning wood with cashmeran, notes of pink pepper and orange flower petals round off the scent beautifully.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian – Aqua Universalis Forte

Another entry from Maison Francis Kurkdjian is Aqua Universalis Forte, a cologne much like a warm spring day. Opening up bright with Sicilian citron and Calabrian bergamot, the heart of the fragrance reveals notes of white flowers, Moroccan rose, and Egyptian jasmine, with an undertone of wood and musk. Despite the wealth of floral notes, it never turns sweet or leans feminine, but remains clean, pristine, and crisp. Great for lounging on the patio, perhaps with a bubbly or margarita in hand.

Byredo – Bal d’Afrique

Enigmatic, passionate, and expressive, Bal d’Afrique is a character. One for the adventurous, this eau de parfum is inspired by the infatuation with African culture in 1920s Paris. Oriental and woody, it features top notes of African marigold, bergamot, bucchu, and neroli; middle notes of cyclamen, jasmine petals, and violet; base notes of black amber, Moroccan cedarwood, musk, and vetiver. This combination is certainly unlike anything you would’ve smelled before.

Party

Whether you’re the life of the party, or the suave gentleman in the background, a cologne in such a social environment is what sets you apart from the rest.

Paco Rabanne – Invictus Aqua

A crowd-pleasing scent, Paco Rabanne’s Invictus Aqua is the strength of the ocean. Bursting up top with juicy grapefruit and violet leaf notes, the scent settles down into its aquatic, violet, Palisander rosewood, and woody notes, anchored by ambergris and amberwood. The result? A sweet and salty fragrance reminiscent of the ocean air but with a seductive touch. Perfect for beach parties, dressed up in a linen shirt and bermudas.

Creed – Aventus

Since its 2010 release, Aventus has taken the perfume world by storm and is now considered a modern icon. Niche perfumery Creed drew inspiration from the endeavours of Napoleon for Aventus, so this is a real man’s perfume. It opens up with notes of pineapple, bergamot, and blackcurrant leaves; middle notes include pink berries, birch, and patchouli while base notes are ambergris, oakmoss, musk, and vanilla. A fruity and musky scent, this cologne defines modern masculinity – rock this cologne with confidence.

Creed – Virgin Island Water

If you want to be the life of a party in the tropics, there’s none other than Creed’s Virgin Island Water. With dominant accords of coconut, rum, musk, and florals, this fragrance is tropical paradise made wearable, and it’ll remind everyone at the party just what they’re there for. Its top notes consist of coconut, lime, white bergamot, Sicilian mandarin and there is ginger, ylang-ylang, and hibiscus in the middle. Base notes include sugar cane and musk.

Top image: Fico di Amalfi by Acqua di Parma


Bryan has the biggest love affair with Italian cuisine, and could eat handmade pasta for the rest of his life. When not eating, he can be found at an art exhibition, taking film and digital photographs, or running 5 and 10Ks.