Splurge or Steal: Luxury Perfumes and Their Dupes

Perfume bottle next to tealight on table


Kristina Strasunske/Getty Images

Smelling fabulous is a luxury that everyone should be able to enjoy. When you want to smell expensive, without spending big bucks, consult our handy guide to the leading luxury fragrances, and their less-costly doppelgängers.

01 of 10

Splurge: Chanel No. 5, $116

Chanel No. 5


In 1921, Coco Chanel asked perfumer Ernest Beaux to create something that "smells like woman," according to the brand. The resulting elixir would become the world's most iconic fragrance, beloved by legions of women including Marilyn Monroe, who famously stated she wore nothing else to bed. A blend of luxurious florals and warm base notes, including ylang-ylang, rose, iris, neroli, and vanilla, Chanel No. 5 is an elegant, womanly scent that transitions well from day to nighttime wear.

02 of 10

Steal: Vogue by Milton Lloyd, $14

Vogue perfume

Milton Lloyd


Sometimes a person wants to smell like a woman, but spend like a woman-on-a-budget. This accessibly-priced Milton Lloyd scent features many of the same fragrance notes as No. 5, including ylang-ylang, aldehydes, and neroli, for a refined-but-daring effect. The result is a fair approximation of Coco’s masterpiece, at a far less intimidating price.

03 of 10

Splurge: Shalimar by Guerlain, $115

Foto: Cortesian Guerlain

Shalimar was inspired by the Indian Gardens of Shalimar, where emperor Shah Jahan met the woman who inspired him to build the Taj Mahal, according to the brand. This perfume is exotic, blending fragrant florals with sensual notes of patchouli, bergamot, and amber to create a powerful love potion. Shalimar’s recognizable scent has captivated those who wear it, and their admirers, for almost a century now.

04 of 10

Steal: Curious by Britney Spears, $23

Curious perfume

Britney Spears 

This perfume was inspired by the gardens of the singer's home state of Louisiana, far-flung from India, but its appeal is similarly warm and voluptuous. Vanilla-infused musk gives the scent its sexy glamour, with magnolia, pear, and lotus flower adding sweetness. It was an instant best-seller, and survives as a nice modern take on a classic.

05 of 10

Splurge: Joy by Jean Patou, $600

Joy perfume
Jean Patou

Jean Patou created this intense, heavily floral fragrance to cheer up his wealthy American customers during the Great Depression. One of the world's costliest perfumes, a single ounce of Joy contains 10,600 jasmine flowers and 336 may roses, according to the brand. Notes of green and musk subdue the intensity of the flowers, giving this scent a luxurious, grown-up feel.

06 of 10

Steal: Sand & Sable Perfume for Women by Coty, $16

Sand & Sable perfume


This drugstore brand blends jasmine, tuberose, and green notes over a base of musk, for a fragrance that straddles the line between freshness and maturity. A decent substitute and great value for the money, particularly given the fact Joy is considered one of the most un-dupe-able fragrances around.

07 of 10

Splurge: Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, $77

Opium perfume

Yves Saint Laurent

Opium has enthralled many people with its hypnotic charms. Its alluring cocktail of spicy, sweet, woody, and floral notes includes cinnamon, patchouli, cedar, jasmine, and myrrh. Exotic and seductive, it is inherently suited for a nighttime romance.

08 of 10

Steal: Impression of Opium by Perfect Scents Fragrances, $11

Impressions of Opium Perfume

Perfect Scents

This scent uses many ingredients found in Opium in order to achieve a similar, almost exact, effect. Jasmine, vanilla, cedar, and sandalwood deliver warmth and mystery, with a musky base adding sex appeal. A good, affordable dupe for its more-addictive cousin.

09 of 10

Splurge: J'Adore by Dior, $142

J'Adore perfume

Courtesy of Dior

People have been falling for J'Adore by Dior since it launched in the early 1990s. A classic fruity floral, it melds the lush scents of orchid and violet with the sweetness of orange, vanilla, and cassis. The effect is young and flirtatiously feminine, with just a hint of adult mystery.

10 of 10

Steal: Rose by Zara, $13

Rose perfume by Zara


This fruity-floral scent from Zara mimics J’Adore’s ingredient list, but gives it a spin befitting the global clothing retailer's brand. Blackcurrant, vanilla, and rose blend with peony to create a fresh, sweet, and feminine fragrance. A steal at the price.

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