Wear it 9 to 5: Office-Appropriate Scents
by beatrice aidin
Bronze place card holders ($175 each), Brass Ruler ($25), Classic Calendar refill ($45), and Strong Stationery ($175), all from Mrs. John L. Strong Fine Stationery, 212-838-3775. Gold pen, stylist’s own. FRAGRANCES FROM LEFT: Jimmy Choo Eau De Toilette, Guerlain Vetiver, Estée Lauder Sensuous Nude, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud, Burberry Body Mist.
“Aromas such as nutmeg, peppermint, and green apple reduce the blood pressure elevation associated with anxiety,” explains Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment Foundation in Chicago, adding that eucalyptus and menthol can have a harmonizing effect. “We found that these smells enhance empathy, and the result is decreased aggression in an office.” Chances are, in a professional setting you will want to smell more sophisticated than apples and menthol, but by choosing a fragrance that incorporates these keynotes, you reap the olfactory rewards while smelling work-appropriate, too.
And those about to broker a big deal, take note: In the thrust of negotiation, research has shown that fragrance can make others more compliant. In a 2006 study, Dr. Hirsch identified that a subject’s favorite ice cream flavor denotes a specific personality type, and they react positively to its aroma. A vanilla ice cream lover, for example, should react well to a small splash of Lancôme Trésor Midnight Rose, which contains the note. Sound halfbaked? Perfumer Stephen Nilsen assures: “It may not put you in their favor, but it could well prevent you from being rejected.” Those toiling away in shoebox-size offices should also remember that the scent of green apple and cucumber make people perceive spaces to be larger. In other words, a splash of DKNY Be Delicious could compensate for cramped quarters.
Given the potential benefits, scent at work might be better off encouraged rather than outlawed. The key is either to choose a very lightweight scent, along the lines of Estée Lauder’s White Linen, or, if your signature perfume is particularly potent—an Opium or a Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb—restrain yourself and use it sparingly.
Perhaps Michele Peckham’s own crusade sprung from a childhood of overspraying. “The funny thing is that my father always wore a ton of cologne,” she admits. “There are some people who go crazy overboard.”
Jason Layden, a Tom Ford fragrance expert at the Neiman Marcus in Mazza Gallerie, says it’s all about restraint. “If you’ve worn the same scent for years, your body will ‘nose-out,’ making that fragrance far less noticeable to the wearer. So err on the side of caution when it comes to your signature scent, or simply switch around—Lavender Palm and Neroli Portofino would be my top picks—to prevent fragrance fatigue and the temptation to douse yourself in scent.”
photography by david hamsley
Celebrating the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner at Carnegie Library.