Thursday Thirteen – My Life in Scent

Perfume Collection

Isn’t it strange how scents have the ability to evoke memory in a way that nothing else can? As my first foray into Thursday Thirteen, I would like to take you on a journey back down memory lane using our sense of smell to guide us. I love perfume, but I very rarely finish a bottle. I move on to new scents, and I put the remaining perfume into a box under my bed. Today I pulled out the box and started breathing in some of the scents which have accompanied me on my life’s journey. Would you care to follow me?

  1. Rose Perfume – When I was around 8 years old, I went to see a troop of Bulgarian dancers at a theatre. They were beautiful, vivid blurs of energy as they moved across the stage: kicking legs, outstretched arms, twirling bodies, swirling skirts and wild hair. After this wonderful performance, the family friend, who had taken me to the theatre, asked if I would like to get some autographs for my program. She took my hand and led me backstage into the dressing room. The dancers were all crammed into one small room, and I remember that there seemed to be just as much activity and energy backstage as there was on! Clothing was being removed and discarded, hair was being brushed, red lipstick applied, and all throughout the room was the most wonderous smell of roses. One of the women, after signing my program, began to rummage through her bag until she found this small wooden minaret. She unscrewed the roof, and inside was a small vial of rose perfume. She helped me put some on and then popped the vial back into its home, screwed the top back on and pressed the minaret into my hand. A truly special perfume.
  2. White Musk – This scent conjures up my first trip into Edinburgh on the bus by myself. I was probably around 11 years old, although doubtless I felt considerably older! The Body Shop always had, and still does, I think, one of their signature scents as a room fragrance filling the small shop with the most wonderful smells. Back in the late 80’s early 90’s they had less signature scents than they do now, one of which was White Musk. I seem to remember that another scent they sold then was Dewberry, and at school you either fell into the Dewberry or the White Musk camp. I was most certainly in the White Musk camp! It reminds me of my first move towards independence.
  3. Eau de Vanille – When I was 13 my mum went to study in France for a year. I matured a lot during that year, as I began to realise how much I took my mother for granted. I had always just expected her to do everything for me, and I don’t believe I remembered to say thank you all that often! At the the end of her year away, we drove down to Provence to collect her. We spent a couple of weeks in her studio apartment, and while we were there I bought some vanilla perfume for myself. This scent recalls the welcome return of my mother, after a period in which I did a lot of (much needed!) growing up.
  4. Poison – At the age of 16, I discovered nightclubs. The ritual for going out had become a lot more elaborate than it had in my early teens, and could now take a few hours of primping, preening, applying, and experimenting. Dior Poison was my perfume of choice during this time; its heady scent clung to me like a second skin. Even by the end of the evening, when the smells of cigarettes, sweat and spilled alcohol were all-pervasive, Poison was still the dominant scent on my skin, in the fabric of my clothes, and in the strands of my hair.
  5. Jean Paul Gaultier – I went to university relatively early, at the age of 17. I remember my parents driving me to the halls of residence while I repeated the refrain “I really don’t want to be here.” My mum told me that all these strangers who I would be sharing living quarters with, were ‘all just friends I hadn’t met yet’. Her words were so true! I made so many friends that year, and when summer came around, and I said goodbye to my new-found friends, one after the other, they commented that the Gaultier perfume always reminded them of me. It was, perhaps, the first time that I realised that others associated me with the scent I chose to wear.
  6. CK One – During that first year at university I had a boyfriend, who I split up with on Valentine’s Day. Fortunately, we split up before I gave him the present I had bought him which was a bottle of CK One. After the university semester had finished, and summer had begun I started wearing it myself. It was at this time that I moved in with the man who was to become my husband, so it’s a scent that I associate with the beginning of the relationship of my life; the one I have with my husband.
  7. Poeme – On my wedding day, I wore Poeme. That morning I was so nervous! My mum took me to the hairdressers and beauty salon, where others flapped around me coiffing my hair and applying layers of make-up. We arrived home, and had some light lunch, before I went up the stairs to get ready. I remember quite clearly spraying the perfume around me like a haze, before stepping into my ivory dress. That scent still brings back all those feelings of joy, anticipation, nervousness, and excitement.
  8. Beautiful – Estee Lauder’s Beautiful was the perfume that I wore when I finally graduated with my undergraduate degree in English Studies. Between the time I got married to this point, I had had three children, and I had foregone the expensive perfume for the equally evocative scents of talc and milk. However, when I graduated, I wore Beautiful. I had looked forward to my graduation throughout the years it took me to complete, during which there were many times when it looked as though it were an impossible task. Beautiful, for me, represents achievement, completion and pride.
  9. Miracle – Upon finally attaining freedom from my degree, my husband and I were faced with many options with what to do with our lives. One of our options was to emigrate to Sweden, where my husband had been offered a job. We accepted the job offer and flew out with our youngest child to check out Stockholm, where we would be making our new home. Before we left the airport, I bought Miracle, which I wore while we explored our possible new home. It was, however, a disaster; the cost of living was too high, and the salary to low. In all honesty, it was a pretty miserable trip. I’m sure Stockholm is a wonderful city, but it just wasn’t for us at that point in our lives. As the plane came in to land in Scotland, we flew over the green rolling hills, the white sandy beaches and the square fields of ripening crops, and I knew that I was coming home.
  10. Noa – Before I had decided to return to university, I worked part-time at Boots. One of the areas that I worked (appropriately enough!) was the perfume counter. It was here that I got to try out all sorts of different perfumes, before finding one that I really liked. I loved Noa, and not just because of its sweet scent, but also because of its bottle. It is round with a sort of pearlescent sheen to it, and inside the perfume is a pearl. It’s beautiful simplicity appealed to me, and it reminds me of a time when I took a bit of a back seat in life. It was a time of reflection and enjoyment of the simple things.
  11. Haute Couture – This is the perfume that I wore during the year I studied for my masters in the Gothic Imagination. It’s heady, dark scent seemed appropriate for the subject matter! During the course of the year, I developed a much stronger sense of who I was, which I have been lucky to carry with me ever since. I learned so much that year, and my perspectives were left permanently altered – in a good way, I might add!
  12. Cinema – After completing my masters, I really got the research bug, so I decided to go on to do my Phd. That Christmas, my parents gave me the Cinema perfume gift set. This was the year that I started to change my style, and made a conscious effort to dress according to my own aesthetic, rather than anyone else’s. Cinema, with its vintage hollywood glamour, certainly influenced my style, and it made me dress so as to give the impression of elegance, grace and individualism. Whether I am successful in this or not, is up to others to decide, but I am happy with the way my style has developed, and this perfume marks the start of this evolution.
  13. Cherry Blossom – My most recent favourite! This June I went back to Provence to an international conference. I traveled with my mum, and the pair of us really enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with each other. Our lives are so full, and have taken us in many different directions, that it had been a long time since we had a sustained catch-up. While we were in France we visited L’Occitane, which is where Mum bought me the Cherry Blossom perfume. I have been wearing it every day since, as it reminds me of that wonderful week at the start of the summer, and the time Mum and I got to know each other all over again.

What scents do you associate with the journey of your life?


September 13, 2007. Inspiration.


  1. No Nonsense girl replied:

    Young young me was exclamation (yuck)

    Vanilla as a college student

    cabotine was one of my scent because it reminded me of someone I really loved…

    I’ve been wearing Clinique Happy Heart for over a year now. I adore the scent, it’s a feminine, and accomplish woman scent (for me)

    I love your TT!!!!

  2. amypalko replied:

    I had forgotten all about Exclamation! That really was a teenage scent, wasn’t it! Cabotine is a lovely perfume. We had a French au pair who wore Cabotine, and it always was the scent of sophistication for me after that. I don’t think I know Clinique Happy Heart, though. I’ll need to pop into our local dept store and have a sniff! I’m glad you liked my TT post!

  3. Cindy Swanson replied:

    Welcome ot the wonderful world of Thursday Thirteen! I love how fragrances evoke past memories. This was a great list!

  4. amypalko replied:

    Thank you, Cindy – I’m so glad you liked it!

  5. momhuebert replied:

    What interesting memories. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Pat J replied:

    Scents do click in to some powerful memories at times. A certain smell of drying paint and metal will instantly put me back at Penhold Air Cadet Camp, 1988ish, descending a staircase whose marble risers were cupped by untold thousands of footfalls.

    When I was in university, the scent I used was a knockoff version of Drakkar Noir. My ex-girlfriend wore a vanilla perfume, because it said in Cosmo that vanilla “drives men wild”, but in my case, it made me hungry. For cookies.

  7. Dear Diary › 13 books I have abandoned replied:

    […] Amy tells us about her perfumes […]

  8. amypalko replied:

    Thanks, Momhuebert! Glad you liked them.

    Pat – I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the effect she was going for! Although it’s funny how powerful a hold scents from our past have over us – sometimes even before our consciousness has identified what we’re smelling.

  9. Miss Sniz replied:

    I haven’t used a single one of these scents! šŸ˜¦ Now that I’m a mom, I usually forget to put on perfume or don’t want to use what little I have because we don’t have the money to replace it. Good TT. Happy TT!

  10. amypalko replied:

    When my kids were little, I didn’t really use perfume at all as I didn’t think it was good for their little lungs… that and good perfume is expensive. I do think it’s important to treat yourself to something girlie every now and then, especially as a mum! Most of my family know how much I like perfume, so I tend to get it at birthdays and xmas. If some heavy hinting doesn’t work for you though, you can head down to your local dept. store and get some samples. Sometimes a little really does go a long way!

  11. Lori replied:

    Great list and memories:) Happy TT.

  12. amypalko replied:

    Thanks, Lori!

  13. Marcia (MeeAugraphie) replied:

    A great first TT, Amypalko. I loved reading the associations. The couple I have are colognes important men in my life wore. I got migraines for so many years, perfume set them off, so I quit wearing any, but a cheap bottle labeled cherry vanilla, is still in my closet… for ’emergencies’ only… grin. A sample would probably last me ’til I was 114. You brought back a few memories, though.

  14. amypalko replied:

    Thanks, Marcia! I’m glad you liked it, and it brought back a few of your own memories. Cherry Vanilla sounds nice!

  15. she replied:

    a very interesting post! thank you!

    this is my 1st week doing tt.

  16. amypalko replied:

    Thanks, She! I’ll head over and check out your tt post now.

  17. Elisa replied:

    My Mother always wore L’Air du Temps (I’m not sure that I spelled that correctly…) when I was a child. My Father tends to smell of Sandalwood. As for me, I tend to fall into the Pearberry camp. I love the Bath and Body Works Pearberry lotion. Heaven!

    Happy TT.

  18. Celticangel replied:

    I actually have trouble with strong scents (my first migraine was caused by White Shoulders perfume) but I have always loved the smell of Roses. Perhaps I should go looking for a Rose perfume that I can handle. I love your scent-based memories. It’s true. Scent *is* the strongest sense when it comes to memories.

    Also…you are making me miss Scotland. I’ve only been there once, but that’s all it takes, I guess.

  19. Toni replied:

    That was a terrific TT idea; associating meaning with each scent. I wouldn’t mind trying that myself sometime.

  20. amypalko replied:

    Thanks for commenting, Elisa. I sometimes think that I would like to have a signature scent. However, I appear to be completely incapable of a long term scent-relationship! I like to think of my perfumes as snapshots of who I was at different times of my life.

    It’s funny how certain people have intolerances to certain fragrances. I noticed a few months ago that my perfume-of-the-moment was causing a rash, so I had to resort to spraying it on my clothes instead of my skin. That wouldn’t work for migraines though!
    If you are looking for rose perfume, check out this post I wrote last week about making rose water. Apparently if you add aromatherapy rose oil, you can use it as perfume. My batch should be ready a week tomorrow, so if you check back then, I’ll post about how I get on with it.

    You would be more than welcome to use the idea for a post of your own, Toni! Glad you liked it.

  21. Jane of Many Trades replied:

    Polo reminds me of my ex, and that’s not a good thing. Hate when I run into someone wearing it.

  22. amypalko replied:

    Ah, yes, Jane. We’ve really just been talking about good memories, but, of course, they can also evoke the bad. It’s quite a popular aftershave too! I would imagine that you come across someone wearing it relatively often. Thanks for that, Jane!

  23. CandyQ replied:

    I’m the same way! Different scents evoke different memories for me, both good & bad. I think I’ll do this for one of my next TT’s. :o)

  24. amypalko replied:

    Oh fantastic, CandyQ! Let me know when you post it – I would love to read it!

  25. Nicholas replied:

    I think I’m right in saying that the sense of smell triggers memories faster than any of the others. As a man, I am not qualified to coment on perfumes except to remark that there are a couple, if I ever get a sudden whiff of them, which take me back to certain events and people almost as though I was in a time machine, but I have no idea what they are called.

    Welcome to TT! So nice to see a really substantial first TT, with lots to read.

  26. Jenn replied:

    I will always love CK One. Brings back so many memories.
    What a great idea for a list.

  27. amypalko replied:

    Thanks, Nicholas, for your comment and your encouragement! I was a bit concerned it was a little too substantial, but I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    CK One is lovely, isn’t it Jenn? Glad you liked the post!

  28. Crazy Working Mom replied:

    Thanks for stopping by my TT yesterday. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you.

    I love Victoria’s Secret Pink and Heavenly. šŸ™‚

  29. cajunvegan replied:

    Beautiful is one of those perfumes that I always come back to over the years. Great TT! Thanks for stopping by mine (other uses for vodka) this week.

  30. amypalko replied:

    Don’t worry about it, Crazy Working Mom! I don’t think I know either of those perfumes! I’ll need to check them out.

    I’m glad you liked my first TT post, Cajunvegan! Beautiful is such a lovely perfume. So elegant!

  31. Sugar Mouse In The Rain replied:

    It was so good sitting comfortably in the seat and reading this post. It’s a good one.

  32. amypalko replied:

    The post ended up a good deal longer than I had originally anticipated. I think I got rather carried away! I glad you enjoyed reading it, though, Sugar Mouse!

  33. Amy the Black replied:

    I have found that perfumes usually make me feel ill. But I fondly remember my Grandmother’s scent (Chantilly Lace) and my Mother-in-Law loves Beautiful. I have found that oils used sparingly work for me. But I do love a nice aftershave on a man!

  34. amypalko replied:

    Thanks for your comment, Amy! There are some lovely aromatherapy oils which smell just lovely. I’m particularly fond of rose oil. I’ve actually been making my own rose water. It’s due to be ready tomorrow, so if you come back over the weekend, I’ll be posting on whether it’s worked out, or if I’ve ended up with a soggy mess!

  35. Melanie replied:

    Wonderful Thursday Thirteen List! Hmmm, some scents that have memories for me would be Eternity and Vanilla Fields. Both worn by my mother at different stages in her life! (Obviously by the price difference!!! LOL)
    Thanks for stopping by my list!

  36. amypalko replied:

    Glad you liked it, Melanie! Calvin Klein has produced some lovely fragrances, haven’t they? Just a shame they are so expensive!

  37. Joely replied:

    I wish I could wear perfume–I’m allergic to most and it makes my nose clog and my throat shut down. šŸ˜¦ Happy TT!

  38. amypalko replied:

    Oh dear, Joely! That’s awful. Do you have the same reaction to aromatherapy oils, because some of them smell just lovely and might be a good alternative. I don’t know a lot about them though, so I cant advise on whether they are less allergenic. Maybe if someone else knows, they could leave a comment?

  39. Love Yourself Meme « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] that everyone had the kind of memory that I do, but recently it was pointed out to me (when I wrote my first Thursday Thirteen) that it’s quite unusual.Ā  Also, when a group of teachers recently tried to put together a […]

  40. Grace replied:

    I always associate scents with happy memories! I love and still using Body Shop`s White Musk because I was high in love when I first bought it years ago. I love to relieve those feelings! šŸ™‚

  41. Elle Fredrix replied:

    2,4, and 6. I remember them well.

    One of my brothers has asthma. so when I was still at home I couldn’t were any perfume, so I just never got into the habit. There are a few I love though!

  42. Susan Helene Gottfried replied:

    Hey, Amy! You’re having a great first Thirteen; welcome!!!

    Yes, you’d written a rum kit in your first comment. I’d like one, too! My son, later in the school year, will learn how to make a still and turn salt water into fresh. Think we can convert it? *grin*

    I used White Musk for awhile. I wish I could still wear perfume (my asthma’s too sensitive) because I’d go back to it. Either that or Gaultier.

  43. amypalko replied:

    White Musk is lovely, isn’t it Grace. I’m glad you have lots of happy memories to draw upon!

    Do you know, Elle, I hadn’t really appreciated how many people had problems with perfume until I wrote this post!

    Thanks, Susan for the welcome and the comment. I thought I had written ‘rum’. Oh dear! I must have a click happy finger šŸ˜‰

  44. Open Grove Claudia replied:

    Oh yeah! I love perfume – only parfum – I wear Shalimar most of the time but also love some of the old perfumes… Chanel and even some men’s fragrances.

  45. amypalko replied:

    Some of the classic fragrances like Chanel are just so special, aren’t they, Claudia? My favourite men’s fragrance is Davidof’s Cool Water; I don’t know if I’d want to wear it myself though.

  46. Marcia replied:

    Loves Rain scent, Stawberry Musk, Scoundral, Charlie, Eternity, B&B Plumeria, VS Love spell VS Heavenly :. Good post

  47. amypalko replied:

    Goodness, Marcia! I only know a few of them. i really like the sound of Loves Rain and Strawberry Musk though šŸ™‚

  48. Mark Caldwell replied:

    Thats a great TT šŸ™‚

    I’d try and say more but my sense of smell has gone west with the rest of my head thanks to the first cold of the autumn and I’m struggling to stay coherent…

  49. amypalko replied:

    Oh poor you, Mark! My daughter is just coming down with a cold now, so it’s only a matter of time before we all come down with it. I’m glad you enjoyed the post anyway, and I hope it took your mind off your cold for just a little while šŸ™‚

  50. L-Squared replied:

    Welcome to TT! I’m not much of a perfume wearer but my favorite scent is vanilla.

    Thanks for visiting my list! šŸ™‚

  51. amypalko replied:

    Thanks, L-Squared! Vanilla is such a lovely, warm scent, isn’t it? It reminds me of a warm kitchen where lots of baking is going on.

  52. Secret Agent Mama replied:

    You need to add “Lovely” by Sarah Jessica Parker; it’s WONDERFUL!
    Great list!!

  53. amypalko replied:

    Do you know I haven’t tried it yet. I’m afraid I’m quite prejudiced when it comes to celebrity perfume, but I’ve heard such good things about Lovely, that I really must give it a go. Thanks for commenting, Secret Agent Mama, and I’m glad you enjoyed the list:-)

  54. Yuriko replied:

    I’m not a big perfume fan.. always gives me a headache… though I love mom had some forever and it’s one scent I can live with. šŸ™‚

  55. Robin replied:

    What a lovely idea for a TT.

    I don’t wear perfume very often (I’m always afraid of attracting mosquitos), but I’ll always identify Abishag (a fragrance based on the scents mentioned in the Bible which was produced especially for the Israel Museum gift shop) with getting engaged.

  56. amypalko replied:

    It’s funny how we build tolerances to certain scents but not others, isn’t it, Yuriko? Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

    Thank you, Robin, I’m pleased you enjoyed reading it! I’m not familiar with the fragrance that you mention, but it sounds extremely special, not least because it reminds you of such a special occasion šŸ™‚

  57. Retro Fashion replied:

    All the old stuff I wore as a child is coming back. Kinda scary and makes you feel old, but it looks great most of the time.

  58. Thursday Thirteen - Preparing to Speak « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] other TT posts: Rules To Live By, My Life in Scent, My Family, New Habits and Memorable […]

  59. Thursday Thirteen - What I Found in Madrid « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] other TT posts: Rules To Live By, My Life in Scent, My Family, New Habits and Memorable […]

  60. ray nwamb replied:

    This is a fantastic website you have here. The online community will greatly benefit from your efforts. Please when you have time do check out my blog for insights on Fragrance Perfumes and how to get discount perfume gifts sets for less

  61. Thursday Thirteen - The Chill Out Zone « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

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