Unless you’re pretty much married to your signature fragrance, it’s completely normal to have the urge to switch up your scent with the season. And now that we’re immersed in autumn and everything that goes with it, we’re exchanging our summertime perfumes for their fall-friendly counterparts. There’s a lot that goes on when it comes to scent and the seasons, and how our bodies—and brains—respond to them.
Fall fragrances just feel different: They’re warm and cozy, like an olfactory sweater, whereas warm-weather fragrances have lighter, crisper notes that feel airy, like they’re meant to be in the sunshine. “It makes sense that lighter, fresher notes match lighter, fresher seasons, and vice versa,” says perfumer Julia Zangrilli of NOVA. “It’s just like clothing.”
Zangrilli believes that finding your best fall fragrance has more to do with adapting your own personal tastes than it does with following seasonal trends. If you’re a strict lover of citrus or heady florals—which can make it difficult to adapt to warmer winter fragrances—Zangrilli recommends looking for your favorite notes in formulas that are grounded by fuller woody or balsamic bases. “I’m all for getting outside of your comfort zone, but I think it’s more important to know your pleasure zone,” she says. That means not eschewing your favorite types of fragrance just because you think the notes aren’t seasonally appropriate. “It’s OK to stick with a few notes that you love and play around with variations on it.”
If you just can’t seem to find a fall fragrance that suits you, Zangrilli recommends going to a brick-and-mortar fragrance boutique and talking to an associate who knows her stuff. Tell the rep what you love about your spring and summer fragrances, and she’ll find you the right fit that’s perfect for the season too. Don’t know where to start? Zangrilli says that her fall fragrances of choice have warmth and body, like green and woody notes, hints of toasted spices, and deep florals. “The strength can vary greatly, but certain colors and textures always seem to match the idea of autumn.”
And her genius pro tip: Simply layer a musk, like one of the four versions Zangrilli is launching exclusively at Urban Outfitters later this year (just in time for the holidays), underneath a more springy or summery fragrance for an “intimate and cozy” take. It’s what she calls a “smooth transition” from those lighter notes. Fall fragrance, simplified.