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How to Choose a Fall Scent You’ll Love

Woman walking down a leaf-covered path, holding a hat.
Mariia Korneeva/Shutterstock

A scent that embodies what you love most about the season can really get you in the mood for fall. Check out some of our favorite seasonal scents for inspiration and tap into the autumnal excitement!

There was a time when people viewed the end of summer with apprehension. Fall’s shorter days and colder nights heralded the onset of winter, with its ice, gloom, and chill.

But fall’s unofficial publicity team has turned the season’s image around. Thanks to people professing their love for cozy sweaters, bonfires, changing leaves, and hot spiced drinks on social media, fall is now something to look forward to.

Here’s how you can embrace the spirit of autumn with a new fragrance!

What’s a Fall Scent?

As the weather cools, we tend to lean into heavier, more luscious sensory experiences. We trade our light, breezy summer fabrics for autumnal knits, denim, and leather. We reach for pasta instead of salad and hot coffee instead of iced tea.

The same is true for fragrances. As the weather changes, heavier, more decadent scents are more appealing. Here are a few ways to pick a fragrance that embodies the season perfectly.

Consider What’s in Season

The fruits, vegetables, and flowers of a season always translate well to perfume. You can apply this standard year-round.

Look for quintessentially autumnal notes, like apple and pumpkin. If you prefer to be a bit less literal, try scents with notes of fig, pear, or cranberry. You can even try to capture the scent of harvest with grassy or earthy notes.

Add Some Spice

A tray with bins of gingerbread cookies, dried apple, orange, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and anise.
Rimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock

In addition to considering what’s in season, thinking about your favorite fall dishes can help you select the perfect fall fragrance. During the fall, we tend to add different spices to our cooking, desserts, and drinks.

Pumpkin spice has gotten a bad rap thanks to its rampant overuse. However, it’s just a fall-friendly spice blend that makes pastries (and lattes) taste great. A fragrance with notes of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, or ginger can evoke this fall-specific flavor.

If you want to take a more unexpected approach, try a scent with notes of pink or black pepper.

Try a Gourmand Note

You can take the foodie approach to fragrance even further with warm, fall-friendly gourmand scents.

In the autumn, we often retreat indoors and bake more, which makes vanilla an ideal note for a fall fragrance. A scent with candy notes, like chocolate, caramel, or sugar, can also revive warm memories of Halloweens past.

Of course, what you love to eat in fall is entirely personal, and you can reflect that in your fragrance. For example, if the season makes you think of staying in with popcorn and a favorite new show, you can try a fragrance with a sassy popcorn note.

Make It Smoky

Although gathering around a bonfire is also nice in the summer, fall is universally considered to be the season of cozy fires. Warm, smoky, woody notes evoke that experience perfectly. Try some incense, cade, cedarwood, sandalwood, or oud wood to get the effect.

Consider the Transition

Since fall is the gateway between summer and winter, you might consider a scent that embodies that transition.

For example, you could look for a fragrance that grounds a summary note, like coconut, with something more autumnal, like hints of earthy woods. Unexpected combinations often work well for these transitional times.

The Best Fragrance Formulas for Fall

Five empty perfume bottles of varying size lying on a bed of leaves, pine cones, and sprigs of berries.
Ariadna Nevskaya/Shutterstock

In the fall, you can reach for scented formulas that last a bit longer and pull a bit stronger. Here’s how to get your fall scent to stay on through apple picking, hayrides, and Halloween parties:

  • Choose an eau de parfum: Fall doesn’t really call for the intense staying power of pure perfume extract (although, you can certainly opt for this highly concentrated formula if you like—just use it lightly). Instead, an eau de parfum is ideal for the season, because it’s strong enough to pass through the layers of sweaters and frosty air without being overpowering.
  • Fragrance and matching body lotion: The more scented formulas you layer on, the longer they will last. For fall, we like to layer a scented lotion, and then spritz the matching fragrance on top.
  • Layered scents: Since fall is a time of transition, it’s also a great time to layer scents. You can try a warm, wintery perfume on top of a fresh, summery one to create the ideal fall blend.

Layering fragrance right takes some experimentation, but it can be a lot of fun. Keep a fragrance wheel handy, so you can get an idea of which notes pair well. Or, you can buy a set of fragrances that are designed to be layered.

As fall comes on in full force, you’re probably planning to pack the season with memories. Whether you’re hiking, picking pumpkins, or testing new spiked cider recipes with your friends, the right fragrance can help capture your favorite things about the season. If you love perfume, fall is the perfect time to explore some new possibilities.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a Master's in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph's University. Her work has appeared in publications like Racked, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rum Punch Press. She was awarded a 2017 Writing Between the Vines residency.  Read Full Bio »

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