If you’re asking us, we’d say winter is the best season to invest in a new fragrance. Not just because it’s Christmas and perfumes make for the best gifts, but because it’s during the winter months that you really get the most out of them. For starters, we tend to be out and about a lot at festive soirées and get-togethers, meaning we’re never short of reasons to pull out our favourite scents. On top of that, unlike lightweight summer spritzes that evaporate in a matter of minutes, the cold weather means your perfume is much more likely to stay put all day long.
And sure, while warm, heady perfumes tend to reign supreme in winter, that’s not to say there isn’t a winter fragrance for every perfume taste. Whether you like heavy woody notes, sweet gourmands or even fresh earthy scents, there’s a winter-appropriate perfume out there for you.
However, fragrance is no doubt a personal thing, which makes buying perfumes as a gift a particularly tricky thing to navigate. The good news is here at Who What Wear, we get to try hundreds of perfumes every year, meaning we get a pretty good sense of which ones make the best fail-safe gifts.
While there are plenty of fragrances that would make lovely gifts, we think it’s most responsible for us to share only the crème de la crème of winter scents—because no one wants to get it wrong. The biggest benefit of getting to try every perfume out there is that come gifting season, we have a whole stash of beautiful scents to give to loved ones as festive treats.
But the truth is the real teller of the best winter fragrances around are the ones that we end up keeping for ourselves. We’re talking about the perfumes that are so good we couldn’t face parting with them, even though we know they’d make for the ultimate gift. So without further ado, these are the very best winter fragrances that money can buy.
1. Parfums de Marly Oriana
One for those who love sweet scents that have an expensive edge to them, this perfume smells like marshmallow, Chantilly cream, blackcurrant, raspberry and grapefruit. But lurking underneath all of that is an enveloping hug of musk and ambrette that oozes warming luxury.
2. Yves Saint Laurent Libre
We've said it once, but we'll say it again: Libre is potentially one of the most crowd-pleasing perfumes out there. Orange blossom is in abundance, but it's blended with lavender, neroli, musk and vanilla to create the most inoffensively divine evening perfume around.
3. Initio Parfums Oud for Happines
Forget everything you think you know about oud. Not only is this bottle a total work of art, but the juice inside is unlike anything you have ever smelled before. It blends deep, woody oud with bergamot and musk for a zingy, palatable result. However, it's the nose-tingling addition of liquorice and vanilla that makes this one of the most uplifting scents our noses have ever come across.
4. Jo Malone London Starlit Mandarin & Honey
Nothing says winter decadence quite like Jo Malone London's limited-edition festive offering. This year, the cult fragrance brand has created an olfactory masterpiece in Starlit Mandarin & Honey. The inclusion of mandarin makes it sparkling and a little bit fizzy, but it's the warming honey and milky coumarin that make it a total showstopper of a spritz.
5. Byredo Mumbai Noise
Byredo has knocked it out of the park once again with the latest addition to its fragrance offering. Mumbai Noise is an exquisite cocktail of the most warming and delicious aromas you know. Like meandering down an Indian market on a balmy evening with the scents of wood, coffee and fruit filling up your nose and your soul all at once.
6. Sunspel Oakwood
You might think of oak wood to be a particularly heavy and unwearable sort of scent, but this perfume proves that to be a misconception. With citrusy bergamot and neroli mixed with sandalwood, oak moss, amber and frankincense, it's just as beautiful when worn with a jumper and jeans as it is a tailored power suit.
7. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540
This year, Baccarat Rouge 540 went viral on TikTok, and we must admit that we're pretty miffed about the whole thing. You see, this perfume has been beauty's best-kept secret for years. Its sweet, creamy and floral notes make it the talk of every dinner table we've ever sat at, and it's the sort of scent that will have people chasing you down the street just to know what it's called. It's perfumery at its finest, and we're gutted we have to share it with the rest of the world.
8. Aerin Cedar Violet
If you're an avid reader of Who What Wear, you'll know that Aerin is one of our favourite perfume brands around. Cedar Violet is the brand's latest launch, and it just might be the best. It's woody, earthy and crisp in all of the best ways—like taking a walk through the forest on a cold, sunny winter's day.
9. Maison Margiela By the Fireplace
The best thing about Maison Margiela's Replica fragrances is that you know exactly what you're getting just by looking at the bottle. It's as though Nat King Cole himself had this spritzed all around because it is just like chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
10. Malin + Goetz Dark Rum
11. Tom Ford Oud Minérale
If you ask us, this is one of the most underrated Tom Ford perfumes ever created. For a few years, it's been really tough to get hold of (rumour has it it was discontinued), but in recent weeks, we have seen it cropping back up in time for gifting season. Oud makes it long-lasting and rich, but it's not woody in the slightest. Like taking a dip in the sea on Christmas morning, it's fresh and invigorating with a cooling hit to it. We're just praying it's back for good.
12. Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza
Rich woods mingle with zesty bergamot, grapefruit and orange to create one of the most delectable scents around. It's a massively under-the-radar fragrance (much like Baccarat Rouge 540 once was), and it oozes rich elegance. And it smells equally as delicious on every gender.
13. Miller Harris Oud Éclat
By far our favourite fragrance launch of the year, this warming fragrance is a feat. It's mossy, musky and a little bit woody, but mostly it's sweet and delectable thanks to nutmeg. This is the kind of perfume that makes you want to nuzzle your face into someone's neck and never leave.