Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

By Chelsea Nusbaum, 28, California

Chelsea grew up in Los Osos, California, which is a small coastal town. She completed her undergraduate degree in Literature/Writing at University of California, San Diego. She recently completed her master’s degree in Rhetoric and Professional and Technical Writing. Chelsea currently works as a proposal editor for a local defense company. She loves to freelance and edit, but between her full-time job and awesome pets, what little time she has left she devotes to fragrance!


Five Fragrances to Complete Your Halloween Costume

Round out your costume and up the authenticity ante with perfume! You wouldn’t dress as Marilyn Monroe and forgo red lipstick. And why round up a blond wig and a white halter dress only to ignore her favorite thing to wear: Chanel No. 5? Though No. 5 was a publicized favorite, Marilyn also wore Jean Patou Joy and Robert Piguet Fracas, a gorgeous tuberose and gardenia fragrance you can spritz on at Sephora before hitting the trick-or-treat circuit. For less widely available fragrances, The Perfumed Court, The Posh Peasant, and Lucky Scent are three reliable sources for decants—sample-sized glass vials of perfumes that cost about $4 a pop.

Here are five common costumes and the perfumes that go with them:

Flapper: These iconic party girls used to scent their cigarettes with Habanita, a fragrance from Molinard, who brewed it in 1921 for exactly that purpose. It came in scented satchels that slipped into a cigarette pack, or in liquid form with a glass rod that slid it along the cigarette. Fortunately, there’s no longer any need to light up to get that flapper flair: in 2005 Molinard re-released Habanita as an eau de toilette. Old-fashioned in the best possible way, Habanita smells like a plush oriental cocktail lounge and is as romantic as the time it came from and playful as the women it was made for.

Priest/Nun: Give your naughty nun costume some gravitas with Avignon. One of five fragrances from Comme des Garçons’ lauded Incense series, Avignon smells like the inside of a cathedral. It’s cool, airy, and dry, with frankincense and wisps of dust. It’s also unisex, so priests can spritz this one on their robes, too.

Vampire: Whether you’re Team Edward, Team Eric, or still swooning over Lestat, femmes and fellas rocking the undead look this year should accessorize their fangs with Caron Narcisse Noir. Rich and luscious but still clean, this inky floral is begging to be dabbed onto a pale throat. Bonus: Chanel maestro Karl Lagerfield wears Narcisse Noir, so if too many vampires show up to the party you can just say you’re him. The costume—and the look—are the same!

Witch: Dark, peppery, and teetering on the edge of decay, Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose evokes rose petals drying on black velvet deep in a medieval castle—the perfect scent for a witch. Paestum Rose leans feminine, but for Halloween wizards can wear it, too. If you’re leaning toward a witch of the Potter variety, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson to you and me) fronts Lancôme Trèsor Midnight Rose and swears up and down that’s what she really wears. Just beware that in spite of its beguiling name, purple bottle, and noir-tinged ads, Trèsor Midnight Rose is a jammy fruit cocktail of a fragrance, so would-be witches angling for gothic or scary need not apply.

Mermaid: Before Ariel there was The Little Mermaid, Hans Christian Anderson’s titular heroine. Rejected by her prince, The Little Mermaid dissolved into foam rather than kill him and returned to her underwater home. Les Parfums de Rosine gem Ecume de Rose (Rose Foam, en anglais) features dune roses as a note and smells like a warm spring day at the beach. And when you wake up from your candy coma wondering why you’re wearing a fin, Ecume de Rose pairs beautifully with a sundress and espadrilles.

Have a better idea? Need help coming up with the perfect fragrance for your cowboy costume? Let us know in the comments!

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44 thoughts on “Five Fragrances to Complete Your Halloween Costume

  1. This is such a cool idea! I would’ve never thought to match my scent to my costume! Makes sense. :) Thank you!

  2. Avatar of Elle Elle

    Great Contribution! Thanks for the tips! I never knew you could find decants online! I am a perfume junky and think that those links may get me in BIG TROUBLE! But I like to try a scent to see how it works with my body chemistry before taking a big cash plunge, so I plan to try out some of Jo Malone and Bond No. 9! For Halloween I’m going as a beauty queen! I plan to wear of the Chanel’s since they are so glamourous!

    • I can vouch for The Perfume Court, too :) It’s a great way to try a scent before splurging or even just to get a favorite in a smaller size for your purse!

    • Chelsea

      Have you sniffed Chinatown? It’s my favorite from the Bond No. 9 line. One thing I noticed about it, though, is that it is much better sprayed than dabbed because spraying really brings out the peach note, so spring for a larger decant with a spray nozzle if you can!

  3. Anyone that’s not on “team” Lestat is surely missing something in their reading (or watching). ^_^

  4. Caitlin

    Fun idea for a post! I’d never heard of Habanita but it sounds delicious. The history of it is so intriguing too.

    • Chelsea

      The extra awesome thing about Habanita is that it can be had for under $30 at online discounters. I can vouch for Beauty Encounter, Parfum 1, and Fragrance Net. Gotta love a cheap thrill!

  5. kate

    What a great post! I really enjoyed reading it – super fun theme :) Welcome, Chelsea!

  6. Mel

    Excellent, just excellent!! Very happy to see these additions to an already amazing blog!! I am now going looking for Avignon et Caron Narcisse Noir…..based on your description. Thank you!!!

  7. Ah! I love this idea! Fun :)

  8. Do you have any recommendations for a “fiery” scent? I want to go as Wrath, and I’ll have painted flames coming out of my eyes and around my mouth.

    • Chelsea

      The closest thing to fire that I can think of would have to be Burning Leaves from the charmingly named CB I Hate Perfumes (the house name alone works well for Wrath, no?). Will something smokey work? In spite of its name, Le Labo Patchouli 24 smells darkly of smoke and old leather. If you want something less literal, I could also see a no-holds-barred musk like Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan working for a Wrath costume.

      • Mary Thi

        I loved that you gave us recommendations that are easy to reach and buy! I have heard of most of these which means that you are a true fragrance addict!

        Did you take Latin at some point in your life? I see lots of Latin in here, haha.

        Thanks, Chelsea!

    • There is actually a scent called ‘Wrath’ by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Description: “A scent aflame with rage, swirling in the red haze of hatred: dragon’s blood spiked with black pepper, clove, and cinnamon.” You can probably buy a decant or small size fairly cheaply and quickly from the BPAL.org boards!

  9. Avatar of Leigh Janna

    Magnificently written, Chelsea; what a pleasure that was to read. Now I’m off to check out some samples.

  10. Glosslizard

    Oooh, I love perfumes, and I love the idea of adding an olfactory component to a costume! I’m going as Medusa this year, any scent come to mind?

    P.S. Now I have to try Habanita and Narcisse Noir! :)

  11. Avatar of Daisy Daisy

    Habanita’s backstory totally sold me. I’m way intrigued now. Excellent post.

  12. Janette

    Great suggestions in a very well written post! Congratulations on the new contributor. Welcome Chelsea!

  13. Avatar of Denise S. denise

    I’m a perfumeholic and I change perfumes daily to suit my mood or the occasion.And I’ve ordered from all of the perfume sites you mentioned with good results.Excellent Halloween suggestions, I’m going as an elf this year and I’ll probably wear Chanel Cristalle, which I find to be a fresh green fragrance.

  14. AmyD

    oooh, avignon sounds right up my alley. totally not a church-goer at all, but i’ve always loved the quiet incense-scent of catholic churches. :) will definitely check this one out!

  15. Andrew

    Thank Christine! Great tips

  16. Natasha

    I love this post! Thank you x

  17. Victoria

    This is such an awesome idea! Thanks :)

  18. L

    The Ecume de Rose sounds nice :-D

  19. Devi

    That was very well written and informative. I’m not a Halloween person, but this was still enthralling to read. Excellent job. :D

  20. Logan

    Wow, Chelsea looks a lot like Sarah Jessica Parker! Nice suggestions and very interesting idea. With scents I have to smell them before I even think of buying it. I find it very difficult to buy a scent online without smelling it first but it’s nice when they offer sample sizes as an option.

  21. mumtaza

    Oooh wow! Wonderful post! I am allergic to perfume and cologne but not to true essential oils, any reason why that is? Thought you might know since you’re into perfume? Is it a certain ingredient/s that people like me can’t handle? Any suggestions for truly natural concoctions? Also I think I’m going as benazir bhutto.

    • Chelsea

      No clue as to why you’re allergic to perfume but not allergic to essential oils! That’s a bummer, though. If you want to go the natural perfumery route, I recommend looking into scents by Red Flower, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Aftelier (my favorite in this category), and Honoré des Prés. Keep in mind that natural perfumes come with a higher price tag and lower longevity than traditional perfumes. You should also check out the Natural Perfumers Guild’s website (http://naturalperfumers.com/).

      As for your costume, for a bold, classy lady like Benazir Bhutto I’d go with something from Amouage. Epic Woman and Gold Woman would be a particularly good fit. Try dousing your clothes instead of your skin and see if that alleviates the allergy issue. I confess I haven’t sniffed many natural perfumes, and of those I have, I can’t think of one that would be a good match for a Benazir Bhutto. Good luck!

  22. Amanda

    Great post!

  23. Avatar of Ashley Ashley Sarah

    I really enjoyed reading this! Welcome to Temptalia and I look forward to reading more from you. I love the details you put in for each.

  24. dovile

    An incredibly interesting and educational article, Chelsea! It was truly a joy to read and I couldn’t have asked a better person to introduce me to perfumes I haven’t sniffed before.

  25. Wendy

    Chelsea, welcome! Loved the article!

  26. Ruth Nusbaum

    Chelsea, all I want to do now, is go out and buy some of those wonderful sounding fragrances. Thanks for enlightening me about them.
    G’ma

  27. I never wear perfume, but a friend told me about this website and a new blogger and said I should check it out. Firstly, Chelsea is an amazing writer. Her knowledge of this subject is impressive and her writing is riveting. Secondly, I really want to check out these fragrances she mentions. I can’t believe someone could convince me that wearing perfume would be a good thing! Thank-you Chelsea!

  28. Patty

    I’m dressing as the Cheshire Cat, any suggestions? This was a great read!

    • Chelsea

      Oooh, this one’s a toughie. I could see the Cheshire Cat himself sticking to a classic masculine like Hermes Bel Ami. An alternate route would be something weird and irreverent like Etat Libre d’Orange Encens et Bubblegum.

  29. Pamela Edson

    Really enjoyed your commentary on the witch! I plan to be an “elegant” witch, if there is such a thing! I found this fabulous black hat with toille and feathers and never thought about what to wear as a fragrance to round out my costume! You’ve given me something to think about. Thanks!

  30. Fernanda

    Chelsea, where can I find Ecume de Rose?