BorderStyle: A Little Cologne Goes a Long Way

by May 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm 1,348 0

Khelan Bhatia writes about style for Borderstan. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Khelan Bhatia. You can follow Khelan on Twitter @KhelanB. He lives in the U Street area and writes about style for Borderstan.

Hi there, Borderstanis. It’s been a long two weeks. And yes, I’ve missed you too.

In a recent conversation with my friend and former colleague Lisa on topics ranging from office gossip to the unfortunate fashion disasters, Lisa mentioned a mutual friend and fellow office worker, a character notoriously known for his stench.

Stench, not in a bad way — but in a really overwhelming, “what cologne did he reek of and how many feet away was he from you when you smelled him?”

After our laughter (and unmistakable bitchiness) subsided, she suggested I write a column about the proper and more subtle way to wear eau de toilette.

Cologne: Since we’re heading into warmer months, I’d recommend a lighter, more citrusy scent.

So, thank you former colleague and office mate for the inspiration. I had wrongfully assumed that, like learning how to shave and how to tie a basic four-in-hand knot for neckties, part of the essential father-son education was how to use cologne so you’re not offending people in a three to seven foot radius. Guess not. I suppose the cliche is true: an assumption is the mother of all f*ck-ups. (And it was Mother’s Day two days ago, after all).

First thing is first, find a scent that works with your body chemistry. I’m probably stating the obvious, but just ’cause your favorite celebrity is endorsing it, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily for you. The same goes for the impression of a good ad campaign or the allure of the bottle. Trial and error is the only way to figure out which cologne works for you.

Next step: For good quality, head to a finer department store, e.g. Bloomingdales, Nordstrom or a place that specializes in body products, like Sephora, and don’t be afraid to try on a scent or two. (Just make sure the store has coffee beans to cleanse your nasal palate so that the scents don’t co-mingle.) Apply a little cologne to your wrist and walk around for a bit. After a few minutes, re-evaluate the scent. Scents do tend to transform and evolve once hitting the skin.

Since we’re heading into warmer months, I’d recommend a lighter, more citrus-based scent. Avoid anything musky or too heavy. (If it says “Intense” or anything similar on the bottle, it will probably be too heavy for summertime. If the bottle says “Sport,” it’s usually okay for the warmer weather.) Also, designers tend to have summer editions of their products. For example, I really like Eternity Summer by Calvin Klein. Some of my favorite summer-time classics are L’eau D’Issey by Issey Miyaki and Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani.

(Sidebar: By no means am I suggesting that every guy wear cologne; some prefer not to wear any scent at all, which is totally their prerogative).

Finally, now that you’ve got the right scent picked out (if you choose to wear one at all), take note of the final rule (the seed of inspiration for this piece): you are not Prince and your cologne is not the restorative waters of Lake Minnetonka. In other words, don’t bathe in it. Like many things in life, less is more. A little goes a long, long way. Here are couple of ways to ensure you don’t smell like an insert-ad for Drakarr Noir from an 80’s back issue of GQ:

  • “Spray a little cologne away from your body; wait three to five seconds, then walk through the dissipated mist. I like to call this the Phoebe Buffay method.
  • “Add just a touch of cologne to your bare chest; use as little as possible.”

Application in either way assures that you’re not causing a biohazard to your friends and colleagues, and that you’re saving your scent for that person you want close to you :).

That’s it for me this time, friends. See you in a couple of weeks.


Subscribe to our mailing list