When it comes to choosing a fragrance, I steer clear of anything citrusy. Sorry, but I have no intention of smelling like a fruit salad.
I like heavy fragrances exuding leather, wood and tobacco. Or rum and spice. That I like them is the most important thing, but I think women find them compelling as well. When I was 30 and living in San Francisco, I had just started dating a precociously worldly 20-year-old (who’d intially told me she was 27). We were at a large retro-themed swing dance event held inside the USS Hornet aircraft carrier, and during one number (say, a ballad version of “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”), she whispered in my ear, “You smell like cologne, sweat, smoke and whiskey.”
She found it a sexy combination, but one person’s olofactory idea of sexy is another’s idea of stuffy. Years ago, when I first founded Ivy-Style.com, I figured I should “smell like Brooks Brothers.” I picked up some of the company’s 1818 cologne, which had something special in it I couldn’t quite define.
Eventually you get tired of smelling the same every day, so I changed things up and dabbled in a dozen more scents. When I’d exhausted them all (save for one pricey eau de parfum Christmas gift that smells like bourbon), I started to thing about adding something new. Only it turned out to be something old, as in old money.
Recently while stopping to hang out at the golf simulator inside Brooks’ Madison Avenue flagship, I started spritzing myself with 1818. After a few times, I was sold and had to have another bottle. There really is something special inside.
What, exactly? Let’s turn to the experts.
If you thought menswear aficionados were geeky, you should get a load of the fragrance guys. Basenotes.net is the leading website for colognes and perfumes, and I logged on the site curious what the readership thought of Brooks Brothers 1818. The subjective associations and poetic waxings are pretty entertaining. Here’s a sampling:
If you wear a suit everyday, and you sit in a corner office, this fragrance is for you. If you are an old-school egomaniac, this is for you. I give it a thumbs up because you will get comments that you smell like “old money.”
Upmarket barbershop for the corner office crowd. It opens all boozy and brave but quickly goes vanilla and, frankly, bland. Not that 1818 is a bad scent. It’s perfectly balanced for the office – and as unsexy as button-down shirts.
This is one fine American barbershop fragrance. The aura is of the 1950s and early 60s; the images are of “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit’ and the drink? The dry martini. I also think of the AMC Movie Channel program “Mad Men” or some of those films with Rock Hudson and Tony Randall, in their Midtown Manhattan jobs and romances.
1818 by Brooks Brothers is instead both the best masculine offering by this brand, and one of the nicest, most compelling “barbershop” scents currently available on the market. Maybe the best one. It is a truly impeccable, rich Bay Rum scent exuding masculinity, self-confidence, a “raw” piratesque exoticism blended with a Western breeze of clean, reassuring warmth – the kind of smooth and comforting soapy warmth evoking a fine robe and a glass of sherry.
This is old school perfection.
You can read more of their purple prose here.
By the way, 1818 is priced at a mere $60, and just might leave you smelling — and feeling — like a million bucks. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD