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​Ooooo That Smell: How To Choose Cologne for Men

Posted by Heather Jabornik on

If your guy is tired of smelling like day old sweat and feels like he surely has more to offer the olfactory world, we’re here to teach him to pick a cologne he’ll love. You know why this is important? He’s worth it. Okay, okay, don’t get cute. But seriously, scent is truly an artform—and it’s not one that needs to intimidate him. Tell him to think of it like a tool in his arsenal of awesome. Can’t get much more awesome, he says? Ohhh, you just wait, mister.


Listen, no one can definitively tell any man what smells good and works for him but HIM. Yes, you can confirm that he smells like a bodybuilding, bearded, lumberjack James Bond, but he’s the one who intuitively knows his natural body scent, what works and what doesn’t. The exact same cologne can smell completely different on other men because the fragrance mixes with individual body oils differently. His best bet is to try a couple colognes on in person (go for one on each bare arm) and let them soak into his skin and morph throughout the day. Related, if ever there was a time to get him through the doors of Sephora, this is it. DO NOT SQUANDER THE OPPORTUNITY.

Colognes have top, middle and bottom notes, and he’ll want to experience all of them to see what he thinks.

  • Top notes are the most immediate and hit right away, but fade relatively quickly.
  • Middle notes, or heart notes, show up after the top notes check out and can last anywhere from 3-5 hours.
  • Base notes, also known as bottom notes, arrive to the party last, but are the boldest of the bunch because they lay the foundation for the whole scent and last for 5-10 hours.

The bottom line here is to have him try a bunch of different colognes and see what he likes as they change on his body throughout the day. Word to the wise—pay attention, since you’ll be the most frequent innocent bystander of whatever he picks.

PRO-TIP: Cologne subscription boxes exist for less than 20 bucks a month and do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.


Him: “WHAT?? WHY IS THIS SO !?$*%&(#$%**@($ COMPLICATED?” You: “It’s really not. Calm down and think about it. Winter and fall tend to be heavier than light and airy summer and spring.”

Heavy coats and eating hearty bowls of chilli are for the winter and shorts and bbq are summer affairs. What we wear and even what we eat changes depending on the season. Scent is no different. Go for spicier colognes in the winter and fall (they can be overwhelming in the scorching heat) and lighter citrusy or soapy scents in the summer and spring (they can evaporate quickly in the cold).

Day and evening scents play along the same set of suggestions. Daytime cologne tends to be lighter (fresh, soapy or citrusy) and evening cologne tends to be heavier (musky, deep, dark or spicy). It’s really that easy.


Stroll into any department store and you’ll be greeted by a myriad of designer colognes—think Armani and Chanel. These colognes are typically mass produced, use cheaper materials and can run up to $150 a bottle. But they’re also designed to reach a wider audience and have less of a “love it/hate it” vibe to them. He’s got a great chance of finding something you’ll both dig in this arena to get him started on his fragrance journey.

If he’s the more adventurous type and wants to give niche fragrances a whirl, they’re usually made by perfumers—industry artists—the fragrance demigods themselves, and are meant for all the go-big-or-go-home men out there. If he likes pushing boundaries (think burnt match and leather), niche fragrance is his bold and unapologetic playground. These fragrances can run from 50 bones to a couple hundred and testing them out through a monthly subscription box service is his best bet for finding his signature scents.

Fragrance is 100% about enhancing personal style. It’s like the unseen finishing touch to how he’ll present his sheer badassery to the world. Tell him this in no uncertain terms. Have fun helping him on his journey to finding his favorites. He’s guaranteed to kick back and bask in his fine smelling awesome when he does.