I live in Daly City, a few miles south of San Francisco. My home is not far from the coast – it’s beautiful, scenic and relaxing to drive along but the fog just loves to sit there. So while the rest of the Bay Area is enjoying scorching Summer weather, we coast dwellers are excited when the temperature reaches 68 degrees. As a matter of fact, our summers are usually foggy and we don’t really get a real scorching summer till fall – Indian Summer. It’s cruel and unfair. Instead of my usual grumpy complaining, I am going to do whatever it takes to keep myself in a summer state of mind. I intend on doing it by trying to create moods inspired by my favorite summer inspirations.
For me summer means baseball, bbp parties, beach vacations and plenty of icy drinks that arrive with little umbrellas or a fruit salad in it. But the one element I can always count on to take me to blue skies, sun warming my shoulders, the waves crashing against the sand and the taste of a pina colada on my palette is coconut. Now, a fruity tropical cocktail can always be in my reach but what if I can’t make it to any ball games, bbq parties or even a picnic at the beach – how do I find summer? I try to recreate it with scents, whether it’s via scented candles or diffusers for my home or lotions and fragrances.
Scents, natural or synthetic, are extremely personal. It can take you back to memories of baking with your grandmother as a little girl or a bitter heartbreak when you were nineteen. They are also great vehicles to take to you a place you long to be – like that Philippine island in my picture above. I usually rely on my sense of smell to set up specific moods.
Here are just some of the scents I depend on to take me away to sunshine when I am stuck in the fog mentally and physically:
Just after New Year’s, I wanted to put away my heavier amber scents to make way for something lighter – I was ready to move on to spring. Le Labo’s Iris 39 did lighten my mood but it does have a bit of a twist. This iris is powdery, but has a mineral (almost wet earth) scent at first spray. It also has patchouli and musk but this is no head shop – the dry down is deep and cozy while the iris never fades away. I adore this fragrance and I can see myself wearing it into fall.
Frederic Malle’s Lys Mediterranee blends sea water, water lilies, lotus, angelica, vanilla, musk and ginger to invoke Mediterranean images. The lily is pronounced in the opening but the dry down is a lovely musk with a touch of sweetness. The ginger adds a bit of unexpected spice. This makes me imagine dining outdoors at an intimate restaurant with my husband or perhaps cocktails at a rooftop party – bonus if either were to take place in Italy.
I never gave white florals a fighting chance until I came across Chanel’s Les Exclusifs Beige. Beige has notes of freesia, frangipani, hawthorn and honey. The honey keeps the floral from giving me a headache, the sweetness is very subtle. It’s the scent I reach for when I wake up and the sky is blue and there’s just a slight breeze. The scent is reminiscent of a luxurious face moisturizer so it puts me in a spa mood that puts an easy and relaxed smile on my face.
Guerlain Angelique Noire is somewhat an anomaly – it works in any weather. I immediately smell vanilla and a bit of a bitter sweetness, like an almond from the angelica root but there’s a citrus element that lightens it up – bergamot. That bergamot gives an exuberant punch right before it settles into a sultry, sweet vanilla – this would make a real statement on an outdoor first date.
Philosykos, from Diptyque, is a very popular scent . A woody, green fig with a faint trace of coconut even though the notes are just fig, fig leaves and cedar. This scent makes me think of lying on a picnic blanket and playing catch in the sunshine with my daughter. It puts me in a very mellow mood.
And speaking of mellow mood, my current favorite summer fragrance is Creed’s Island Virgin Water. Notes of this scent are lime, coconut, rum, sugar cane, bergamot, sicilian mandarin, musk, ylang ylang and ginger. Yes, it sounds like a fancy mojito, if that mojito were a hundred bucks. Right when I get that whiff of coconut and citrus I feel like I should be poolside at a remote spa resort. This would be Coconut Verbena’s (from Bath and Body Works) sophisticated cousin that spends summers in St. Barts or Bora Bora. I love this from first spray to dry down, which then mellows into a skin clean musk with just the softest touch of sugar. This is perfect for hot nights out with your girlfriends, the love of your life or just to run errands.
These can be found at special boutiques or department stores like: Barneys New York (Le Labo, Frederic Malle), Neiman Marcus (Creed, Guerlain), Nordstrom (Diptyque) and Beige is an exclusive fragrance only found at Chanel boutiques.
I know the lady behind me in the thick sweater and scarf appreciates my coconut or citrus scents. I’m pretty sure I put her in a summer mood, or at least in the mood for a pina colada!
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