Beauty Without Fuss

Thursday 24 April 2014

Cheap Smells (or how to smell good without breaking the bank ...)

By Laurin

I recently overheard someone dismiss a wonderful early 90’s commercial blockbuster fragrance with a wave of the hand and a dismissive, “It’s a bit…high street for me.” House rules prevent me swearing on this blog, so I am unable to repeat my exact thoughts. However, I would like to offer the following observation: “Your MUM’S a bit high street.”

Nobody wants to be basic, but in the rush to prove their connoisseur credentials with incessant name-dropping of the obscure, expensive and hard-to-find, perfume enthusiasts often wilfully ignore the fact that not everything that smells good is exclusive or requires a second mortgage. There is no shortage of mediocre scents bearing outrageous price tags to fool you into thinking they’re something special, and by the same token, it’s possible to find some great fragrances for very little money at all. 

All the perfumes below can be had for under £30.

Bvlgari Black - £24 for 40ml at

I would consider this a bargain at four times the price. The fact that you can buy two bottles and still have change from a fifty pound note is surely proof that there is a God, and She wants us to smell good. It contains notes of rubber tires screeching on hot asphalt, smoky black tea, vanilla, cedar and bergamot, but to attempt to pin this fragrance down to a mere collection on notes is to ignore its ever-changing complexity and almost human presence in a room. It walks softly, but carries a big stick. Or, as my friend Amy once put it, “This is a fragrance you wear when you need to rescue a vegan from a swamp.”

Chopard Casmir - £12.95 for 30ml at

This was the first grown-up fragrance I bought with my own money. I have a hazy, possibly false memory of billowing red scarves and gold turrets at the Dillard’s department store launch in Mobile, Alabama. The idea of smelling like an Arabian Nights fantasy princess while my peers were showering in squeaky clean CK One absolutely appealed to pretentious 16-year-old me. If I smelled this on a teenage girl today, I wouldn’t know whether to high-five her or order her into the bathroom to scrub that off NOW, young lady. Casmir is a daring overdose of vanilla, musk, benzoin and tonka, just made wearable with baskets of peach, mandarin, blackcurrant and overripe tropical fruit. It’s no surprise to me that it was created by Michel Almairac, the nose behind the outrageously brilliant Gucci Rush. Wear it while wrapped in cashmere and dreaming of ancient souks. Or give it to a teenage girl with a wink and a copy of Delta of Venus.

Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers - £10.00 for 30ml at

I own a small handful of what I like to call “Sunday Evening Perfumes”. They are for spraying medicinally, by the gallon, to dispel anxiety and unease. With its sunny notes of citrus, juicy honeydew, mouth-watering peach and breezy orange blossom, Sunflowers is the closest you can get to a bosomy bear-hug from a long-lost friend without getting on a plane. It’s simple, happy and completely without pretension. Spray with joyful abandon, or when joyful abandon is in short supply.

Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars - £12.00 for 30ml at

Official notes: Pineapple, jasmine, freesia, bergamot, vanilla and musk. Off the record: Like being strangled with a candy necklace by Karl Lagerfeld’s ponytail. Sweet shops and Brylcreem. Only buy this if you’re a collector of perfumes by Sophia Grojsman, or a fondness of mid-nineties “Celestial” themed décor. And if either of those descriptions do apply to you, drop me a line. I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady - £30 for 10ml (well, sort of) at

If, on the other hand, I haven’t convinced you of the delights to be found in purchasing a fragrance in the same shop that’s running a special on Tampax, take heart. There is always the option of pooling your resources with your similarly high-minded friends and splashing out on a travel set of Frederic Malle’s Portrait of a Lady. At £90 for three 10ml travel sprays, this is stretching the concept of a “budget” option, but I find it helps to think of it as investing in your share of a masterpiece of modern perfumery. Dominique Ropion’s instantly recognisable accord of rose, patchouli, incense, cassis and raspberry is the only perfume I’ve ever worn that has caused strangers to chase me down the street, just to find out the name. Would that ever happen with a Jo Malone? I rest my case. BARGAIN.

This post: Cheap Smells (or how to smell good without breaking the bank ...) originated at: Get Lippie All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post at Get Lippie, then this content has been stolen by a scraper


  1. These are some lovely recommendations here - and it is such fun to go and have a good sniff around Debenhams or Boots. I do think though that one cannot go back with perfume or at least I can't, I overdosed on JLo Glow and now it has that slight parmesan sick gag note, likewise Burberry Original which had such a beautifully warm vanillary note but now again that foodie note just makes me feel sick. I do still like Jovan White Musk which is currently £6.95 for 96mls on allbeauty. Ooh you have made me all sentimental for perfumes :)

  2. THANK you for this post. I am in the market for a new perfume and I like your non-judgemental approach on scents :) I think whoever said that a scent was too "high street" is just ignorant!


Thanks, I love hearing from you!

© Get Lippie | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template by pipdig