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What Are the Best Fragrances for an Older Man?
Speaking as a man on the good side of fifty, I think it's true that there are some fragrances that work for an older man and some fragrances that don't. The ones that don't include all of those scents and deodorants with he-man names that smell like insect repellent. Those are really meant for young men who feel they have something to prove, and men my age have nothing much to prove to anyone. Men like us should focus on serious, classic fragrances like those described in this guide. For example, I always like a musky, woodsy scent—it just feels like I've earned the real, naturals notes carried by that kind of fragrance.
The colognes and eau de toilettes in this guide were carefully chosen with style-conscious, older men in mind. Most of them downplay citrics in the top notes and lean on woody and musky base notes; many conjure up whiskey, tobacco, and leather. All fragrance choices are personal, some intensely so; the scents in this article are chosen for their universal appeal to those men who have a little more experience than others.
If you, like me, would like to experience a wide variety of designer men's fragrances without throwing down for full-sized bottles, you can find excellent samplers for very little money. This article lists a few of the best ones.
Classic Fragrances for Older Men
1. Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior
2. Green Irish Tweed by Creed
3. Acqua Di Gio for Men by Giorgio Armani
4. Colonia by Acqua Di Parma
5. Azzaro Chrome Eau de Toilette
6. Light Blue For Men by Dolce & Gabbana
7. Vetiver by Guerlain
Experience High-End Men's Fragrances for Next to Nothing
The fragrances in this guide are all serious statements for men who care about style—these are not in the same price range as, say, Axe. Accordingly, they are not cheap.
You could buy a full-sized bottle of a new scent, hoping that you'll like it. Or you could buy a designer fragrance sampler with a dozen or more designer men's scents for a fraction of the cost. These good-looking, economical samplers are the way to go if you or the person you're buying for is curious about a variety of designer fragrances, and wants to experience them for a week or two before deciding which one to invest in.
Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior
I believe that older men like me should choose a scent that has a little wildness to it, and Dior's classic Eau Sauvage fragrance is just about perfect. Eau Sauvage made its debut in 1966, and even though it was Dior's first fragrance for men, it was soon recognized as a classic. Many, many scents have followed its citrus-forward profile -- too many, in this writer's opinion -- and although the patchouli heart notes are no longer really in fashion, the fragrance is still a powerhouse, especially for men with a few miles under their wheels. While I am not a big fan of big citric top notes, this cologne is much more complex than others.
According to the excellent fragrance site basenotes.net, Eau Sauvage has the following profile:
- Top Notes: lemon, bergamot, cumin, and rosemary.
- Heart Notes: petitgrain, jasmine, patchouli, carnation, basil, coriander, orris
- Base Notes: vetiver, sandalwood, oakmoss, amber, musk
Bright top notes and musky, earthy base notes build on a familiar fragrance architecture, but Eau Sauvage makes the most of the contrast.
(Avoid the overbearing "Eau Sauvage Extreme," which is well beneath the dignity of a label like Dior.)
Men my age have nothing much to prove to anyone, so we can choose classic fragrances like those described in this guide.
Green Irish Tweed by Creed
Creed is a fascinating design house that has made some pretty wild claims, including suggesting that its colognes were favored by Winston Churchill, as well as the Kennedy clan. This would be impressive if true, but according to most sites Creed's first fragrance was released in 1975! Regardless, Creed has been present on the fashion scene in one way or another since the 1700's, and its signature scent, Green Irish Tweed, is something like the Rolls Royce of men's fragrances: expensive, but worth the money. Wearing Creed's Green Irish Tweed puts an older man like me on a different level. It's the status symbol fragrance par excellence.
- Top Notes: lemon, verbena
- Heart Notes: iris, violet leaf
- Base notes: Mysore sandalwood, ambergris
The relative simplicity of Green Irish Tweed's profile may have something to do with its enduring appeal. With such an intense citrus and floral presence, it appears on paper to be lighter and brighter than many men's fragrances. One basenotes.net reviewer puts these qualities into words:
"... it opens up pleasantly aquatic, not the rolling glens of Ireland but its rocky coastlines... As it dries it never loses that character, which makes it a bit more linear than a lot of fragrances, but the smell is so nice you don't want it to transform too much."
This reviewer also notes the fact that this fragrance is especially well suited for older men, pointing out that its "sophisticated fresh mustiness simply doesn't work so well with younger people hanging out with people their own age."
Celebrities that are supposed to have worn Creed fragrances include Clint Eastwood, Russell Crowe and Robbie Williams.
Acqua Di Gio for Men by Giorgio Armani
Acqua Di Gio for Men by Giorgio Armani is typically characterized as light and fresh, which may work very well for some older men. I especially see Gio as a summer, outdoorsy kind of fragrance that would play well on a beach vacation or, if you have one, on a boat. It is of course the male counterpart to the classic Acqua Di Gio women. This is one of the best-selling fragrances in the world.
The profile of this fragrance, according to basenotes, is as follows:
- Top Notes: jasmine, rosemary, and "Hesperidic notes," which are oils
extracted from citrus peel and are known for their freshness and delicacy. Examples are Italian bergamot, grapefruit, and Tunisian orange blossom.
- Heart Notes: persimmon fruits and marine notes
- Base notes: cedar, patchouli, white musk, and rock rose
I was a little surprised to see patchouli among the base notes, given how far out of favor this old counter-culture standby has fallen. But there it is, and it must be compounded in such a way as to deflect its tendency to drown out out everything around it.
According to one website, "Acqua Di Giò opens with a splash of fresh, Calabrian bergamot, neroli and green tangerine. Light, aquatic nuances mix with rosemary, fruity persimmon and warm Indonesian patchouli to create a men's fragrance that is both fresh and relaxed." To be perfectly honest, it's likely a bit too relaxed for my tastes, which run to musk, wood, and ambergris. But the right gentlemen, Acqua Di Gio could brighten up a trip to the seaside.
Colonia by Acqua Di Parma
Colonia is yet another classic scent that complements an older man's presence It's similar in profile to Acqua Di Gio (above), and an older man like me, this is about as close to a young man's scent as I care to get -- in fact, truth be told, it reminds me a bit of some drugstore men's fragrances, just not nearly as crass.
In any case, this fragrance's heart notes of lavender and rose are are at least righteously old-school. A little earthy counterbalance, cedar or even tobacco, would be a welcome addition.
- Top Notes: lemon, sweet orange, calabrian bergamot
- Heart Notes: lavender, Bulgarian rose, verbena, rosemary
- Base Notes:vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli
According to the website, this fragrance has a long history, dating back to 1916: "At the time, the majority of commercial perfumes were much stronger and heavier in composition; so the unusually light and refreshing fragrance from Parma found wide success in Europe."
If you're seeking a scent for an older man, but want to keep it (very) light, you may have found what you're looking for.
Azzaro Chrome Eau de Toilette
This is an unusual fragrance that strays from the typical lemon top/musk base structure that so many fragrances seem to love to follow, and this is what makes it so appealing for an older man like me. Chrome features bergamot and bitter citrus in its top notes, and, according to basenotes.net, such unorthodox notes as ivy and lichen in the heart. The base includes various woods, including sandal and rosewood.
- Top Notes: Apple and citrus fruits
- Heart Notes: White musk, sea salt
- Base Notes: Tonka bean, wood notes
I like this decidedly non-classic profile for an older man, though for the sake of full disclosure I have not tried it myself. I have included it here because of the very interesting approach and the unusual composition, especially in the heart. If you are selecting a fragrance for a man who likes to march a little out of step with the rest of the world, then Chrome may be the perfect choice.
Light Blue pour Homme by Dolce & Gabbana
Light Blue was launched in 2001 by Dolce and Gabbana; the fragrance was intended for women and was an immediate sensation. The label released a version for men, Light Blue pour Homme is exactly that -- a scent that eschews bright citrus and florals for bitter orange, juniper, and oakmoss.
- Top Notes: Sicilian mandarin, "frozen grapefruit peel," bergamot, juniper
- Heart Notes: rosemary, Szechuan pepper, rosewood
- Base notes: musk wood and oakmoss
Eau de Toilette or Eau de Parfum? The difference lies in the volume of perfume oil. While Eau de Toilette contains 5-9%, Eau de Parfum contains more, usually 8-14%. Eau de Parfums therefore last longer and smell more intense.
Vetiver by Guerlain
Guerlain's "Jicky" fragrance was created 120 years ago, and was allegedely named after a girl who broke the fragrance creator's heart. Over a century later, it's still being sold, making it the oldest fragrance, outside of true colognes, still in production. The label's classic fragrance, Vetiver, was created in the 1950's.
Vetiver is based, as one might expect, on aromatic oils extracted from the vetiver plant. Vetiver is a kind of bunchgrass native to India; it can grow over five feet tall. This amazing plant is harvested for the fragrance industry, with up to 250 tons of oil making it to the market every year. There is no synthetic version of vetiver -- the essential oil derived form the roots has over 100 organic components.
Guerlain describes its Vetiver fragrance as "sober and elegant," which to me is a good description of the perfect older gentleman. Basenotes.net analyzes the fragrance in this way:
This popular fragrance by Guerlain was relaunched in 2000 with new packaging, a new bottle (designed by Robert Granai) and new colour juice. According to Guerlain, the scent remains unchanged and is as good as it ever was.
- Top Notes: Bergamot, lemon, mandarin, coriander
- Heart Notes: Vetiver (of course); cedar
- Base notes: Tobacco, nutmeg, pepper, tonka bean, capsicum
According to the Guerlain website, "The fragrance opens on the spontaneous, piquant freshness of citrus fruits with orange, bergamot and lemon. At the heart, spices such as nutmeg and pepper intensify the fragrance, before giving way to vetiver, tobacco and tonka bean. A fresh woody accord for a fragrance with authentic elegance."
More Style Ideas for the Older Man
- The Best Watches for Older Men
The right watches for the older man who knows that being stylish still matters.
- Gift Ideas for Older Men
In this article, I share several cool, unique gift ideas for dad, granddad, or any other older man in your life.
- Skin Care for Older Men
The best skin care options for older men.
- The Older Man's Guide to Aftershaves
Perfect aftershave choices for older men.
- Bar Soap for Men: 7 Amazing Specialty Soaps
Not all soap is created equal! These great-smelling bar soaps make a perfect gift for the men in your life.
Lindsey Davis on July 31, 2020:
I love how the items listed here are not so common in other articles. Quite refreshing to see. Thanks for this!
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on September 29, 2019:
Hello, Green Mind, I am past my 60 and I do not see the reason to use the wild perfume by young men. I do not use any at all again as in my younger days. Now, I will try your suggestion. Thanks for sharing.