So You Want To Smell Like Summer By The Sea
Get deep enough into the perfume world and you'll start looking for specific scent pairings for everything: what suits the weather, your mental state, what you're wearing, you name it. Like any other beauty or fashion accessory, perfume can be used to accentuate or to contrast against the overall mood you're going for. But unlike fashion—the aesthetic rules of which sometimes bewilder and escape the best of us—perfume operates on instinct, which makes taking liberties with it a lot more fun. If you're gravitating towards a certain scent on any given day, go with that scent. Simple!
For most people, growing a perfume collection starts with the changing of the seasons. When the weather gets hotter, the urge is to throw constrictions to the wind, and find a perfume that's lighter and more effortless, conveying the same breezy, carefree feeling you seek from this beloved, short-lived season. Smelling like summer is easy: citrus notes, green notes, fruity notes, coconut notes—these are all a quick and immediate way to feel like a weight has been lifted off of your metaphorical shoulders. But the most quintessential summer smell, I believe, will always be that of hot sun and salt water: summer by the beach.
If you're looking for a smell that encapsulates the feeling of emerging from the waves, slippery with Coppertone, and walking across hot sand to dry off on your towel, this is it. It's the scent of happiness without responsibility: peak summer. It even has a hint of watermelon rind.
At the Beach 1966 is the first of eight perfumes in the Secret History series. It's a collection inspired by moments from Christopher Brosius' personal life, but the experiences are universal enough that they conflate with our own private memories. I've made a few friends smell this and every single one has reported an immediate hit of nostalgia—a testament to his success.
Beach smells can generally be divided into two categories: the glamorized human experience of the beach (coconut, lime, fig, sunscreen), and the untouched beach itself (salt, sand, algae, woods). This one falls squarely into the latter category, and beautifully so: it's crisp with lemon and bergamot, briny with sea salt, and dries down into a soft, beautiful wood.
It smells like a remote seaside cove that you stumble upon on vacation—the kind that makes you wonder if you were the first to discover it. Breezy, effortless, infinitely refreshing. Perfect for someone who hates the whole ritualistic ordeal of going to the beach, but loves looking out onto a body of water.
With a name that translates into shipwrecked wood, you' d expect this perfume to smell sharp and jagged, but it's the opposite: a beautifully creamy, well-rounded portrait of summer on a deserted beach.
It's got a little bit of everything: a bright fig note that paints a periphery of fresh greenery; a fleur de sel accord that captures the kelpy nature of ocean water, and the presence of ambergris that evokes skin made hot by the summer afternoon.
It's the most sensual scent on the list without being overtly so—like falling asleep in the sun, your limbs entangled with those of someone you love.
Picture arriving at a cottage you've rented for the summer and opening up the windows for the first time; outside is the sea, and a wild rosebush, but you don't need to see that to know, because the breeze coming off the shore brings it right in to the room.
That's exactly what this smells like to me: an aquatic rose scent that's light and beautiful, with a hint of dune grass and citrus. I picture white washed wood and sandy feet and water that makes you gasp when you first enter it.
The rose in this smell is green, fresh, almost like it belongs to the wind, and not to a flower. It's a striking, airy rose scent for those who don't usually like roses, and a perfect summer scent for those trying to avoid the typical sunscreen/coconut notes.
Photo credit: Vintage Everyday