Because our sense of smell is so physiologically tied to memory, our romantic relationships are always linked to the fragrances that backdrop them. When my partner and I first started dating, he wore Armani Code ($68); and now, whenever catch a whiff of that scent, I am immediately catapulted back to 2010, him in a crisp white T-shirt, me with shoulder-length black hair, riding shotgun in a BMW convertible. *Le sigh.*
Smell also plays a big role in initial attraction. Studies show that vanilla is one of the most appealing scents to both men and women, though everyone's personal tastes differ slightly. (Anecdotally, I can tell you I immediately perk up around people who smell like whiskey and smoke.)
With Valentine's Day around the corner, lots of us have romance on the brain; and whether you've been with your S.O. for a million years or are going out for the first time, smelling fly is a pretty good way to seal the deal. To help you (and your date) smell your best, we put together the following list of romantic fragrance pairings. (They could even work for you and your best friend!) Pick out one of these products for yourself and gift the other to your date. These fragrances smell good on their own, but they smell even better together.
For the hipster couple
Byrdie's editorial director, Faith Xue, lives by this fragrance pairing IRL. "My boyfriend wears Helmut Lang Cuiron, which pairs perfectly with my Byredo Mojave Ghost," she says. Cuiron is a spicy, warm, unisex scent with notes of leather, musk, and balsamic. Mojave Ghost has a similar woodsy quality, thanks to notes of Ambrette, musk, and cedarwood. But notes of magnolia and violet both brighten and soften it all. Together, the two scents complement each other in a very lovely (and trendy) way.
For the sensual couple
If you're one of those fiery, can't-get-your-hands-off-each-other couples, you're going to want to bathe in this seductive set. Sauvage is juicy, raw, woody, and masculine; Black Opium is floral, rich, and ultra-feminine. Together, their notes include bergamot, Sichuan pepper, coffee, and patchouli, making for one spicy, sensual pair.
For the vintagey couple
Alone, each of these fragrances feels like they're from a different era, and the effect is even stronger when combined. Penhaligon's unisex Halfeti sports an intoxicating array of notes from grapefruit and bergamot to saffron, leather, and patchouli, making for a warm fragrance that seems like something you'd smell at an old social club in Europe. Pair that with Replica's nostalgic Lipstick On, which combines the powdery smell of iris with sensual galbanum and vanilla bourbon to create the exact smell of a vintage lipstick tube.
These happen to be the exact fragrances that my partner and I don on nights out, and the pairing is one-of-a-kind.
For the "lovey-dovey" couple
This pairing is for the annoyingly affectionate, puppy-eyed couple who just started dating a few weeks ago and still thinks the sun shines out of one another's face. (If this is you, we're not actually annoyed, just jealous.) The scents are simple and pure, just like your new love. Diptyque's is fresh and rosy (but not too rosy), which pairs beautifully with Le Labo's bright, orange blossom base.
For the outdoorsy couple
If you like to smell more like a fresh morning by the sea than a sensual indoor evening, we've got you. Byrdie editors are so obsessed with Carnal Flower it might as well be the site's official fragrance (its tuberose scent smells almost like a very sophisticated sunscreen, to me). Match that with Goest's airy, citrusy, woodsy Lartigue, and you've got an ideal match for the couple who loves to be outside.