Once upon a time, a woman was expected to have a signature scent. Nowadays, we are more likely to treat fragrance as an accessory, changing our perfume daily - or even more often - to suit our busy lives and shifting moods.But sometimes, too much choice can lead to confusion. If you're like most women, you have multiple perfume bottles cluttering your vanity table. They taunt you every morning as you get dressed, with the simple yet silent demand, "Who do you want to be today?"
To help you cut through the clutter, we've created this brief guide to the major fragrance categories, with suggestions for where to wear each one.
Infused with the tangy essence of citrus fruits, these perfumes are lively and energetic. They are best enjoyed as a daytime delight, just the thing to wake you up in the morning before you've had that second coffee. Wear a citrus perfume to meet your girlfriends for brunch, brighten a baby shower, or ride your bicycle to the organic market.
See our full list of citrus fragrances including Clinique Happy, Burberry Weekend for Women, Cartier Eau de Cartier for Women, Jo Malone Grapefruit, Calvin Klein CK One, The Gap CloseFloral
Sweet and romantic, these scents are the "good girls" of the fragrance aisle. Florals are sometimes single note, but generally combine the scents of various flowers to create a classic feminine appeal. Spritz on a floral when you want to show off (or fake) your sweet-and-girly side -- when meeting your boyfriend's parents comes to mind. These scents are also appropriate at church, the ballet, or your best friend's wedding, especially if you've got your eye on an eligible groomsman.
See our full list of floral fragrances including Chanel No 5, Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, Lancome Tresor and Anna SuiFruity
Like a cheerleader with a wicked side, fruity perfumes are fresh and spicy. These fragrances please the nose with the bright and familiar smells of apple, peach, berry, mango and other juicy fruits, often blended with florals to create a compelling aroma. Pretty without being overwhelming, these perfumes are ideal for a movie-and-dinner first date. Just apply sparingly.
See our full list of fruity fragrances including Liz Claiborne by Liz Claiborne, Avon Fire Me Up, Harajuku Lovers Lil' Angel, Ralph Lauren Ralph Wild, Marc Jacobs Splash: Apple 2010, Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Now 2010Green
Smelling of fresh leaves and newly-mown grass, the green fragrances are a natural and energetic group. These scents tend toward the unisex, so are best left on the shelf when you're dressing to impress a hot date. Save them for daytime instead, when their sporty, modern appeal makes them a great fit for any casual or outdoor gathering. Wear one to cheer on your favorite football team, at the golfing range, or on a flea market amble with friends.
See our full list of green fragrances including Chanel No. 19, Ralph Lauren Safari, Escada Sport Country Weekend, Sung Alfred Sung, Escada Magnetism, Adidas Adrenaline Woman
Oceanic perfumes are a modern invention, first appearing with Christian Dior's Dune in 1991. These scents use a blend of synthetic compounds to evoke natural aromas such as mountain air, ocean spray or clean linen. Crisp and fresh, they are an ideal choice for job interviews, when you want your perfume to say, "I'm clean, efficient and won't stink up the joint if hired."
See our full list of oceanic fragrances including EChristian Dior Dune, Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers, Davidoff Cool Water Woman, Giorgio Beverly Hills Ocean Dream
Think of oriental perfumes as the fragrance equivalent of cleavage and a killer pair of stilettos. Exotic and distinctly feminine, these sensual blends feature an earthy, animalistic base scent such as musk or ambergris, often combined with warm notes such as amber. (When combined with florals, these scents are called "florientals"). The effect is a bold yet mysterious perfume that makes a big entrance, tosses back a few martinis, and leaves with phone numbers in her pocket. Wear one when you want to seduce, whether it's a third date or just a rare night out without the kids.
See our full list of oriental fragrances including Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls, Yves Saint Laurent Opuim, Guerlain Shalimar, Givenchy Organza, Yves Saint Laurent Opium, Versace Crystal Noir
Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what these perfumes smell like. Uncap one and be transported to your mom's kitchen - if your mom was the type who baked cinnamon rolls and gingerbread from scratch. With notes of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and pepper, spicy perfumes are comforting and alluring in an old-fashioned way. Wear one to your next parent-teacher meeting, or at lunch with that handsome officemate who you wouldn't mind sharing pastry with.
See our full list of spicy fragrances including Chanel Coco, Jo Malone Vetyver, BCBG Girls, Givenchy Ysatis, Estee Lauder Cinnabar
Woody scents are built on base notes of bark and moss, conjuring winding forest paths. While more unisex than other fragrance categories, that's not to say these scents are masculine. They evoke a particular brand of no-nonsense femininity. Think Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Katharine Hepburn in any movie. This strong and classic appeal translates well to the corporate office, too. Wear one to your next performance review.
See our full list of woodsy fragrances including Estee Lauder Knowing, Chanel No. 19, Britney Spears Believe, Ralph Lauren Romance, Gucci Envy Me