10 Best Old Lady Perfumes You Either Love Or Hate
Have you ever encountered perfumes which when you sniffed for the first time, the immediate thought was that they smelled like old lady perfumes? Even though you may not have smelled them on any actual grandmas or old ladies, somehow the perfumes just smell like something old ladies would wear. I have felt that way about certain perfumes, but I have also come to appreciate some of them, as my taste in perfumes has changed over time.
There are perfumes I love which are deemed old lady-like by others, but then there are also perfumes I love which others would deem juvenile. Having been at both sides of the spectrum, I can understand where those old lady and juvenile comments are coming from. I don’t mind either polarizing opinions because we all have our own preferences and fragrance is just so subjective. There are many facets of fragrances, and old age is just one of the many vibes a perfume can give off.
Usually, most people would associate classic perfumes with old lady perfumes. I don’t believe that all classic fragrances give off an old lady vibe but I have not tried one which does not give off that vibe. Perhaps, they are not so popular and had already been discontinued. The scent associated with old lady perfumes typically features strong aldehydes and/or white flowers. I can enjoy aldehydes but white flowers are a little tricky to me because of their indolic quality.
Some people get very offended and angry when the perfume they love is deemed as an old lady perfume. But let’s face it, the ‘old lady perfumes’ category does exist in many people’s opinions whether you like it or not. While some people are trying to avoid this kind of scent, there are others who are actively seeking this scent. Whether you love or hate them, this list of 10 Best Old Lady Perfumes will be helpful to you, as it will guide you on which perfumes to buy or avoid!
10. Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds
Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds smells vintage due to the prominence of aldehydes and white flowers such as lily, tuberose, and jasmine. I find the jasmine in White Diamonds to be quite indolic. Overall, White Diamonds smells like a strong floral bomb which is reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour. As White Diamonds is a celebrity perfume, it is an affordable fragrance. Therefore, you may want to try this as an introduction to white floral scent that smells vintage.
9. Estee Lauder Youth Dew
Estee Lauder Youth Dew is a classic spicy oriental perfume created in 1953. Many youths would disagree with this perfume being called ‘Youth’ Dew as it definitely smells dated and can be tad sour at times. Youth Dew smells strongly of spices and incense. Hence, Estee Lauder Youth Dew has a warm quality and you may find it comforting (perhaps in a matronly way) when you wear it during the cold weather.
8. Clinique Aromatics Elixir
Created in 1975, Aromatics Elixir is the oldest perfume from Clinique. Therefore, it has properties of classic perfumes which are strong and sharp. Classified as a chypre-floral, Clinique Aromatics Elixir opens with a sharp herbal scent. After a few minutes, the symphony of white flowers, rose, and geranium make their entrance. Clinique Aromatics Elixir is a very intensive fragrance with also a little bitterness to it.
7. Givenchy Amarige
Amarige is the anagram of the French word ‘Mariage’, and as such, the perfume has a theme of happy marriage. Givenchy Amarige is an over-the-top floral fragrance with subtle hints of fruits. As a loud and proud perfume, Givenchy Amarige would remind you of big hair and shoulder pads which are popular in the 80s. Amarige is quite a distinctive scent which makes it a memorable old lady perfume.
6. Robert Piguet Fracas
I heard it through the grapevine that Robert Piguet Fracas is Madonna’s favorite perfume which she tried to emulate for her perfume called Truth or Dare. Supposedly, many celebrities adore Fracas. Fracas is an intense white floral perfume which includes a powerful combination of white flowers like tuberose, jasmine, gardenia, lily of the valley, white narcissus, and white iris. It is no doubt rich, heady, and indolic. Don’t touch this with a 10-foot pole if you have a history of being repelled by the smell of white flowers.
5. Cacharel LouLou
Cacharel LouLou is a polarizing scent that people either love or hate. It is among the best-selling perfumes in the 80s so it definitely deserves to be in this list of best old lady perfumes. Cacharel LouLou is a spicy, powdery incense perfume that is very heavy so it is important that you do not overspray this so as to not overwhelm yourself and others. It takes a daring woman to pull off such a bold perfume!
4. Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) Opium
When you smell Opium for the first time, it may shock you with its blast of incense, heavy spices, and sweet myrrh. I gagged the first time I smelled Opium as it is indeed a very dated scent aka old lady perfume. Upon trying it again a few years later, I could tolerate the scent and I can see why there are women who love it. Opium is a complex and potent scent that could be an acquired taste.
3. Guerlain Shalimar
Jacques Guerlain created Guerlain Shalimar as a tribute to the love story behind the creation of Taj Mahal. When I try on Guerlain Shalimar, it greets me with its slightly sharp citrus opening complimented by cedar. Then, the scent changes to a powdery, woody, leathery, and spicy blend of floral notes in the heart. There is also a little bit of sour notes in Shalimar. The perfume then fades to the drydown of sensual vanilla. This is one of the old lady perfumes which I quite enjoy, but as always, it was not love at first sniff.
2. Jean Patou Joy
Jean Patou Joy is the second top-selling perfume of all times. At the heart of this perfume is the extract of 10600 jasmine flowers and 336 roses. Jean Patou Joy is not for the weak at heart as it combines indolic white florals with prominent animalic notes which are slightly toned down by the aldehydes and rose. Even so, some people consider Jean Patou Joy to smell borderline urinous due to the indolic jasmine note, and also borderline fecal due to the civet note.
1. Chanel No. 5
The queen when it comes to the old lady perfume category is none other than Chanel No. 5, the best-selling scent of all times. Marilyn Monroe famously worn it to bed naked which sparks the curiosity of innocent noses to try Chanel No. 5. Lo and behold, the smell of Chanel No. 5 is totally different from their expectations of allure and glamour. This because Chanel No. 5 has a distinctive scent that can be equated to an old lady perfume. I’d say, give Chanel No. 5 another try a couple of years down the road if you don’t like it now. Perhaps, you might finally fall in love with this aldehydic, classic scent. That is what happened to me!
Do you love or hate old lady perfumes? Personally, I quite like Chanel No. 5 but I need a certain mood to pull it off and enjoy it. Let me know your experiences with old lady perfumes!
You might also be interested in: