While the pumpkin spice trope might have started with the eponymous Starbucks lattes, the trend has grown so insidious even a car mechanic in my neighborhood advertises "pumpkin spice oil changes." Much as ubiquity makes me want to dismiss a trend as over, there are elements of pumpkin spice I can't deny, even if I don't like the flavor in my Goldfish (yes, really).
There's the obvious: when temperatures drop, I stop reaching for juicy ripe fruits and instead crank the oven to 350 degrees so I can bake warm cookies, bread, and other cozy confections. Similarly, I stop spritzing light, clean, floral fragrances and rediscover all of my collection's spicy, comfy scents.
While people throw "basic" around to disparage PSL lovers (rude!), there's nothing "basic" about these fragrances, which all have a cozy, spicy element. While most of them aren't exactly reminiscent of a pumpkin spice latte, they each have qualities that make that beverage so iconic and ubiquitous: sweetness, spice, and mellow base notes. Like the PSL itself, these autumn perfumes are complex, cozy, and perfect for sweater weather. Read more about my favorites ahead.
Byredo Eyes Closed
This new launch from Byredo opens with exciting, crisp top notes of cinnamon and cardamom, followed by a spicy punch of ginger and sweet, creamy carrot. While bracing at first, the scent is grounded by patchouli and papyrus, allowing it to settle into warmth and comfort. While wearing it, I couldn't help but be reminded of Big Red chewing gum, how it shocked me when I was a kid, and how I now love the cinnamon-sweet flavor. Eyes Closed is a delicious, surprising, and wearable fall scent.
Boy Smells Suede Pony
Suede Pony of Boy Smells, true to the brand's genre-bucking reputation, subverts a lot of what I've learned to expect from leather fragrance. Instead of a heavy, smoky leather effect, Suede Pony delivers a wet, mossy, and delicate interpretation of the note. Saffron, pineapple, hazelnut, and coconut bring surprising and sweet qualities to the more classic cardamom and patchouli tones. I love this for a more understated leather option.
Vilhelm Parfumerie Darling Nikki
Vilhelm Parfumerie offers Darling Nikki a pop of ginger, mint, and black pepper balanced by creamy flowers and powdery smoke for a more traditionally feminine take on spicy scents. Saffron sweetens the deal, producing an old-school, clean, and soapy perfume perfect for spice-curious floral lovers.
Maison Crivelli Bois Datchai
If pumpkin spice lattes equate to crunching through autumn leaves, you can't do much better at evoking fall than with Maison Crivelli's Bois Datchai. Like coming in from a brisk walk to the smell of molasses cookies in the oven, this lovely perfume carries both the freshness and decay of wet woods and a heart of baking spices like cinnamon. Black currant brings earthy sweetness, black tea is milky and bitter, and leather rounds everything out without getting too heavy.
Etat Libre D’Orange Like This
In case its bright orange packaging doesn't give itself away, Etat Libre D'Orange is perhaps the most "PSL" scent on this list. Featuring pumpkin accord as a top note, the fragrance is joyful and sweet, with candied ginger, mandarin, and rose to add elements of juicy freshness. There even seems to be a gentle element of chocolate or milky espresso, but maybe it's just the earthy patchouli at the scent's base. Whatever it is Like This is a delightful fall fragrance for anyone who prefers the "pumpkin" to the "spice."
Stora Skuggen Silphium
Named for a lost and renowned ancient spice, Silphium is an unusual spicy scent, with a cool lift-off of ginger, citrus, and geranium transforming into moody clove, cinnamon, and incense notes. This is an elegant and surprising option, perfect for anyone who loves the strangely medicinal notes of eucalyptus and nutmeg. Think Tiger Balm, if cushioned with leather and cedar.
D.S. & Durga Radio Bombay
While crafted to honor a hip neighborhood of hot Mumbai, D.S. & Durga's Radio Bombay is an excellent fit for crisper weather. An electric cedar top note gives warm amber, creamy coconut, and damp fire needles. This perfume is thick with layers of complexity and unnameable notes, but it is still highly wearable and cozy. I constantly sniff my wrist whenever I have a spritz on. While it lacks the actual "spice" of cinnamon, cardamom, or clove, an accord of copper lends the scent a zippy brightness like the static of its titular radio.
Nest New York Golden Nectar Eau de Parfum
This Eau de Parfum from Nest is a delicious floral option for fall. Inspired by the tale of Cleopatra dipping her boat's sails in perfume to scent the wind, this fragrance is rich and romantic but still soothing enough to reach for every day (even if you're not feeling at your most Cleopatra). Kicking off with delicate orchid, the scent warms up with amber and vanilla, ending in a cozy gourmand perfect for spraying over your plushest sweater.
Demeter Pumpkin Spice Latte
If you're a literalist, you can't do much more "PSL" than Pumpkin Spice Latte from Demeter Fragrance Library. Known for their on-point replicas of scents like gin and tonics, rain, and tennis balls, this PSL cologne packs a realistic punch but is light enough for all-day wear. Evocative of milky foam, a jolt of espresso, and sweet, gently spiced pumpkin, fans swear it smells like Starbucks in the fall.