20 best fragrances for women to help you smell lovely all year

Kelsey Chapman
Wednesday 02 June 2021 21:22
Wishlist
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The finishing touch to any good look is the confidence to carry it off, and the quickest way to liven up that self-conviction is a good spritz of your favorite scent. Since smell is one of the most powerful connections to our brain’s pleasure centers and memories, the perfume you choose can not only evoke certain emotions in those around, it can define entire eras of your life.

Another aspect to this daily ritual is the aesthetic of the bottle you choose. Of course chemistry and scent are most important, but having a gorgeous piece of useful art never hurt anyone’s mood as they prepare for the day. Much of life is blandly utilitarian; treat yourself to a pleasing trinket that functions to complete your readying process.

Taking these factors into account, we’ve looked at some of the best perfumes on the market that are new and classic to get the scoop on how to smell your best. Whether you like something slinky and warm that sits on the skin like invisible velvet or you’re more of a bubbly, floral type, your tastes are surely represented in the varied and enchanting choices below.

Since you're shopping for perfume, round out your fragrance purchases by checking out our favorite online beauty stores so you can refresh your whole beauty collection.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Tous Love Me 3.0 oz Eau de Parfum

Tous' delightfully femme fragrance may beg, "love me" but it's hardly a chore to do so.

Romance abounds with the muted pink box bearing the crystalline teddy bear shape of the bottle itself on the textured facade. The bottle itself catches the light beautifully, echoing the pink theme with its faceted construction topped with an interesting pull-off top in silver.

Scent-wise, what you see is what you get: bold notes of grapefruit, pink pepper (it's truly a theme), and lychee are embedded in this floral daydream. It mellows only a bit after several minutes, with softer undertones of jasmine, cedarwood, and perhaps the slightest hint of vanilla seep through.

This bottle is for the ultimate girly girl who loves getting flowers, wearing dresses, and decorating her space with only the most ladylike adornments.

Glossier You

We love Glossier (as we’ve mentioned) and how personalized, simple, and clean everything from their aesthetics to wearability are in every product. This is true for You, their signature fragrance, too, and its notes of pink pepper, amber, and white florals. It’s designed to be “open-ended,” which means basically it will transform to smell distinctly “you” as the simple mix of scents blends into your body chemistry.

Scarlet Poppy Cologne Intense

Luxurious and velvety, the scent of poppies will fill the air around you with opulent sweetness, mystery, and just a touch of fig to round things out in this new Jo Malone fragrance. We’re a sucker for a red bottle, too, and this one is an especially stunning shade of scarlet (in keeping with its namesake).

Banana Republic Icon Metal Rain 2.5 oz Eau de Parfum

Right off the bat, there's something tremendously appealing about the steely appearance of the dark gray box in which Metal Rain arrives. Banana Republic is well known for their chic minimalism, but this scent takes that to the next level aesthetically and aromatically.

As you tug the black ribbon that slides the parfum from its hearty chamber, the bottle appears looking simple and androgynous. The scent itself is similarly genderless and comes on strong at first with top notes of basil and citrus. It mellows at a steady pace, settling on wafts of lavender, green tea, and "ozone," according to the description, but to the layman's nose it reads heady and seductive.

This is an excellent choice for those who love an air of mystery in their scent and aren't concerned with an overtly gendered bouquet. The bottle will look smart on any vanity shelf, so pick it up for yourself or a loved one who enjoys sexy scents with an edge.

Burberry Her Intense Eau de Parfum

Burberry’s scents are possibly as iconic as their signature plaid and trench coats, and this newer release Her Intense continues that legacy of bold sophistication through a complex mixture of blackberry, cherry, violent, jasmine, and hints of cedarwood to finish. As one buyer reports, “ The notes transition relatively quickly on me, but it does seem to have substantial wear time, especially the base with the lingering blackberry and jasmine facets. A lovely fragrance!”

Olfactory NYC Explorer Box

The Explorer Box is a fantastic treat to introduce you to the nine spectacular core scents that introduce you to the Olfactory NYC experience while setting you back less than $20 with an $18 credit for when you decide which 50mL version you’d like to bring home once you’ve sniffed them all.

While lingering over the small, colorful box, I scribbled down notes like, “Blake is cultured sophistication with an almost vintage finish settled inside the perky top notes,” and, “Lulu is a melange of girly scents that bring back shopping with my friends at the mall and running into the girl I envy the most–I imagine she stills smells this good.” Hunter might be my favorite; the musky, raw vanilla in that bold little bottle is the perfect scent to wear while finally seducing a forbidden crush or just reigniting flames with a longtime lover.

Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum Neon

Many of us had mothers and grandmothers who bathed in the powerfully luxurious–if a tad overwhelming–Black Opium as they matured. The amber liquid’s lasting glamour has received a vibrant update with the new eau de parfum Neon version, complete with an overhauled bottle that lets the wearer gaze into a brilliant pink window centered on the bottle’s bubbly, textured surface. Coffee, orange blossom, and dragon fruit are among the top notes listed in this newcomer’s melange of scenets, and satisfied buyers praise its spicy, long-lasting wearability that doesn’t overpower the body’s natural chemistry.

Marc Jacobs Daisy Love Eau de Toilette

Marc Jacobs Daisy has been a go-to scent for the funky, fun, and free-spirited type of fashionista for years, so this limited edition is an obvious pick for those who want to embody that spirit with the added intensity of apricot and golden amber to deepen the floral notes. The bottle is a true collectible bit of art as well, featuring the iconic MJ daisy atop the apricot-hued glass bottle with a gold button in the middle to set it all off–a true delight to see on any bathroom or vanity shelf.

Tom Ford Lost Cherry

The scent of cherries conjures something deliciously fruity and luscious for many, but Tom Ford would never allow his namesake to produce a fragrance that gets by on sweetness alone. This full-bodied luxe eau de parfum adds elements of almond and tonka bean to its top notes before Turkish Rose and jasmine saunter in to give it sensual staying power. 

The bottle is another point of consideration, deep red and sophisticated in its simplicity. A pale pink label evokes cherry blossoms as well, leaving off the fine print for a gorgeous adornment for any shelf or vanity. 

Chanel Chance Eau Tendre Eau de Toilette

Few can deny the power of Chanel scents, as they were popularized by great beauties of the past such as Marilyn Monroe when she famously claimed the designer’s #5 perfume was all she wore to bed. You can still buy that classic perfume should you be tied to tradition, but one beautifully modern and chic alternative comes via Chanel’s Chane Eau Tendre. Hued like pink lemonade and spiced with fresh teakwood and jasmine, this casually glamorous floral is perfect for daintier types who love sunny picnics, prissy pearls, and all the accoutrement befitting a proper lady.

Etat Libre D'Orange I Am Trash

If you are not one to take yourself seriously and act precious about the scent you wear, I Am Trash is the offbeat scent you’ve waited for your whole life. Upcycled ingredients like “exhausted Rose petals, already distilled Sandalwood chips, and even leftover Apples from the food industry” are united into a distinct and formidable scent, one not easily forgotten that induces curiosity and tenderness in this fruity, woodsy citrus scent. If you’re enamored with the concept of using garbage to create something delicious such as this but don’t want to fully commit, consider grabbing a $4 sample to start.

Banana Republic Icon Grassland 2.5 oz Eau de Parfum

We're including two Banana Republic fragrances here because both are so effortlessly cool but one is just a bit more bold: Grassland.

The packaging color is the first clue to the scent inside being a bit bolder than our previous entry. When first sprayed, the scent packs a strong punch of fresh mint, bergamot, and apple. It quickly settles down, though, and the slow release of warmth via subtle spices and florals.

Wearing this fragrance for several minutes is a relaxing experience, and one that is much more long lasting than those perfumes that seemingy disappear to the wearer shortly after spritzing. You'll maintain awareness of this one as it seeps into your skin, and you won't be a single bit mad at the outcome.

Grassland is perfect for someone who enjoys the streamlined look of Metal Rain's bottle with a green twist, especially if they're looking for a more animated nose. If you're feeling extra generous, gift both Banana Republic scents to someone very special and treat them to a bundle equipped to complement changing moods.

Tom Ford Velvet Orchid

Purple is the color of royalty, and that’s exactly what you’ll feel like each day when you reach for this stunning bottle and mist yourself in Tom Ford’s exemplary and top-selling fragrance Velvet Orchid. The formula is based on the designer’s legendary Black Orchid, a favorite of brand loyals since its introduction in 2006, but with an updated profile that leans more feminine without losing the headiness of the original’s musky appeal. Pay attention to the oriental florals, honey, citrus, and rum–this is for the bold, literary woman who prefers Scotch to champagne.

Christian Siriano Ooh La Rouge

Christian Siriano’s couture work has become synonymous with dressing some of the most adored bodies on the planet in regal, show-stopping pieces for red carpets everywhere, and now he’s brought his signature classy edge to fragrance.

Reminiscent of Billy Porter’s unforgettable 2019 tuxedo gown, Siriano’s bottle for new fragrance Ooh La Rouge is structured to impress with a sweeping wide bottom and perfect crystalline rose perched lightly on top.

The rich red and black color scheme perfectly complements the scent within blending citrusy brightness with creamy “Enchanted Praline,” and classic Gardenia and Tuberose elements carry a air of timelessness that lend polish to the modern scent. A bonus arrives with this $78 purchase in the form of a universally flattering red lip gloss as well, perfect for topping off effortless but sexy looks. Ooh La Rouge is also hard to over-spritz, as the bold sensuality marries quickly into your skin's own natural chemistry. Wear with plenty of confidence and a hefty dose of attitude.

Valentino Donna Born In Roma Eau de Parfum

We’d buy this perfume for the incredible bottle alone, but luckily the warm floral carries notes like jasmine and bourbon vanilla that makes it sexy, sweet, and comforting to wear as well. It’s said to be inspired by “Roman street style and edgy haute couture,” so invest in a bottle if you consider yourself a tasteful yet fun fashionista.

Mugler Alien Eau De Parfum Spray 2 oz

Thierry Mugler’s name was dripping from the lips of fashion power players once again when his house outfitted Kim Kardashian like a crystal-soaked mermaid for the 2019 Camp-themed Met Gala just over a year ago, but lest we forget the designer’s famed and delicious signature scent that’s dominated sales counters for years: Alien. The heady, sensual aroma of wood, flowers, amber, and cashmere remains lusty as ever, so snag a bottle for you or a loved one with a penchant for passion and let this stunning fragrance enchant you.

Hope Night Eau de Parfum Vaporisateur Spray

Hope Night Parfum is for hopeful romantics who love classic blends like white flowers, amber, vanilla, patchouli and plum packaged in a simple and pretty bottle designed by award-winning fragrance packaging creator Marc Rosen. The beauty doesn’t stop there, as Hope Fragrances are created with the philanthropist in mind, and all of the net profits from each fragrance go directly to Hope for Depression Research Foundation (HDRF) to support groundbreaking depression research. Florals merge with sensual amber and vanilla; consumption and luxury combine with awareness and charity. Hope Night is an uncomplicated choice to make.

Pomare's Stolen Perfume Sample Set

Pomare’s Stolen Perfume is a fascinating line of fragrances with a story that travels the globe from France to Tahiti to Australia to Mexico using all natural elements to form bouquets redolent of centuries past. The sample set is the easiest way to smell the whole adventure for yourself before deciding on a favorite chapter, but the journey from Beulah to Piano Turner whiffs of romance, earth, vanilla, and sandalwood, assembled by a maker with a nose for wine who wanted to imbue wearable scent with that same magical experience.

An emphasis on natural scent is explained through an allegory in which you have eaten cherry flavored candy all your life then one day taste a real cherry. “It would not be as ‘loud’ a flavor as the chemical version,” the website explains, “but soon you would discover layers and dimensions to what you once thought the flavor cherry meant.” Pomare’s perfumes are sold seasonally as no two seasons of the ingredients will ever smell precisely the same, so indulge here for a beautifully unique fragrance that will never be captured quite the same way again.

Carolina Herrera Good Girl Eau De Parfum

It may call itself Good Girl, but this perfume’s seductive stiletto bottle and $69 price tag hint at a sexy, rebellious side that prefers bad boys in leather jackets to prim white-gloved luncheons. Cocoa, jasmine, almond, and coffee mingle as cohorts in creating a sumptuous mist, tinged with a bright tuberose crystal top note to maintain the air of innocence that masks this aroma’s truly bewitching smell.

REPLICA by the Fireplace

Billed as the perfect autumnal fragrance, this warm and spicy blend evokes the comfort of a crackling fire with notes of clove oil, chestnut, and vanilla. This is also a unisex scent, making it in ideal gift for anyone in your life who thrives in the year's later months and enjoys the feeling of a sweater or snuggly blanket as much as they do smelling delicious.

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