Best Fragrances for Summer

Summer fragrances Heeley Eight and Bob

There are no rules when it comes to wearing fragrance, and we’ll never stop you from wearing what you like - but the warmer weather presents one with an opportunity to really capitalise on fragrances that are refreshing, lightweight, and undemanding.

Citruses are a traditional choice, for they are invigorating and sharp, cutting through the warm weather - but are not at all the only option. Many florals exist in the same register of crisp freshness as citruses do, and on pain of missing out, should not be neglected. In fact, florals are almost always complex and layered, in a way that many simple citrus colognes are not. There are even certain woody scents that have an overall lightness of being and temperament that makes them perfect for summertime wear; and if we’re being truly honest, some spices actually sing in the warm weather. Something about the synergy between hot weather and spices - the weather wakes up the spices, giving them a diffusive pulsating radiance. Combine this with a fruity, citrusy, or floral top - or a combination of the three - and you've got a complex fragrance with a definitely fresh aspect that takes on new dimensions during the warm season. Finally - don't forget watery aquatic fragrances - they were made for summer, evocative of sandy beaches and aromatic sea spray.

In this article I'll outline some marvellous fragrance choices for the warm summertime weather, ensuring fragrances are selected from all over the aromatic spectrum so no one misses out. There will be some unexpected surprises!

Classic Freshness: Citrus and Aquatics

Get the staples right. Everyone should have a citrus in their fragrance repertoire - for its cutting freshness, its fleeting luxury, and its ability to bolster one's mood instantly. Citrus notes are highly volatile, and while that makes for sizzling and energetic wear, this means that they're quick to dissipate. Making the most of the situation - this is an opportunity to treat citrus colognes like refreshing tonics, to be sprayed on abundantly and frequently.

For an utter classic, let's not forget Acqua di Parma's Colonia - bright Sicilian lemon and a medley of herbs join a classic barbershop base of lavender, sandalwood, and musk. If you wish to move away from a largely classic composition, there's the contemporary cool of You or Someone Like You (Etat Libre d'Orange), swapping the centrality of citrus for herbal green mint wrapped in grapefruit, blackcurrant, and green tea. The overall result is a stunning new take on freshness, like warm diffusive light on freshly cut grass. 

Aquatics are much like citrus fragrances, showcasing a watery freshness that's alloyed to a more solid base. For something literal, try Creed's Erolfa, which keeps the citrus top and joins this with a careful dose of spices to give it a certain shimmery complexity, and grounds it with a salty heart of violet leaf, cedar, and amber, adding a definite nautical aspect - like sailing around the Med. For those desiring a fragrance that is bolder, structurally solid, and more powerful, Megamare by Orto Parisi is a no-brainer, capturing a strength unusual for the category with a high dose of amber. It is no less fresh and salty, generating a picture of the mighty sea and sublime maritime thunderstorms.

Complex Freshness: Florals, Woods and More 

Wearing florals in the warm weather makes sense: flowers love the sun (in both senses), and so it feels like a natural pairing. With a radiance and freshness akin to citrus fruits but with an unrivalled complexity and longevity, florals are great for those looking to expand their horizons. Lyric Man by Amouage is an excellent surprise. For sure, rose is the central note, complexly rich, sumptuous, spicy - but here it is blended with the intensely soapy sweet greenness of lime and an exotic base of pine, ginger, and angelica. All washed in incense, it has an extraordinary freshness that is texturally light like gossamer yet persistent - incense offers a surprising freshness. In Tauer's Incense Extreme, the citrus note is absent, and the eponymous turns into pure white light with an incredible dryness supported with cedar and orris. It’s paradoxically refreshing and soul-reviving, like a glass of uber-dry fino sherry. 

For radiant tingling sparkle, Tauer's Orange Star is exemplary. Although the main accord features an arrangement of different orange citrus fruits bolstered with lemongrass, it’s how these fruits are treated that is spectacular: I've always thought of it as Crêpes Suzette. A fantasy note of caramelised sugar and salted caramel forms the moreish base through a clever combination of salty ambergris and the confectionary note of tonka bean. The result is delicious hypercharged freshness that lingers, and lingers, and lingers. For something in the middle, consider Eight and Bob - a trio of woods (vetiver, sandalwood, cedar) washed ashore, wrapped in chewy vanilla: perhaps the freshest wood fragrance out there.


Unexpected Freshness: Spices, Resins, and Texture

Spices take on a new dimension in the dry heat of summer, so wintertime favourites are completely transformed. In the cult-classic L'Air du Desert Marocain by Tauer Perfumes, coriander seed becomes central, moving cedar to the not-so-distant background and glowing in the presence of cumin and amber. 'Air' is indeed emphasised here - the balmy gusts that the fragrance captures come alive in hot weather, offering a beautifully refreshing spiciness. A similar humid air is achieved in Fils de Dieu by Etat Libre d'Orange but in a different continent and climate. It is the scent of sunshine and tropical pleasure - a culinary-citrus fragrance, where a central note of lime is cut with the flavourful aroma of coconut, rice, ginger, and coriander leaf. A strange beauty, Fils de Dieu is refreshing and rich, but as light as air and balanced to the supreme. Finally, 1969 by Histoires de Parfum has adequate oomph, as the beguiling summertime aroma of juicy peach meets a traditional rose-patchouli base and a perfect gourmand mix of dark chocolate and the spicy hum of clove - altogether, it’s almost cooling and menthol-like, akin to seeking refuge in the leafy shade: a real treat in the summer weather.

What's for sure is that any fragrance is best for the summertime, so long as it suits your taste and style.