We may spend most of our time talking about designer garms and fresh kicks, but we know there’s a whole lot more to looking good than what you’re packing in your closet. Groom Service is your no-BS guide in how to look, smell, and feel better. This week, we’re giving you the lowdown on the best winter fragrances.
Winter is an excuse to get cozy: you get to pack on a few pounds of holiday weight, cuff yourself to a new partner for the cold months ahead, and wear long johns under your pants every day. It’s also the perfect time to switch fragrances to something warmer, something that says “come hither.”
Winter scents are typically woodier, spicier, and muskier than their warm-weather counterparts. They might have fresher notes to round them out, but cold-season scents are always anchored in heavier tones. It’s appropriate to match a fragrance with the mood of the season, switching things up until the groundhog sees his shadow. And truthfully, you can wear them well into the spring, too, as most winter scents wear well on mild evenings.
Here are our favorite scents for the season. Give them a gander if you’ve yet to draw up a holiday gift list, either for yourself or your loved ones. It’s more personal than an iTunes gift card, and these are all far superior to the discount colognes you’ll find in department store checkout bins.
Memo Paris — Italian Leather
A December drive in Tuscany as shot by Federico Fellini, that’s what Italian Leather feels like. It’s classically Italian — vibrant and sensual — using green tomato leaf, leather, and vanilla fused with galbanum, tolu balsam, sandalwood, and musk. It’s a cold-weather scent that is suitable for both afternoon and night.
James Heeley — Agarwoud
Oud, amber, rose, and incense: these four notes make for a grounding yet spiritual scent. Agarwoud uses resinous extract from Laotian and Vietnamese forests, the same essence that has permeated Buddhist temples for hundreds of years. For this reason, it’s also uplifting, inspiring clarity of thought and optimism for sunnier days ahead.
D.S. & Durga — Amber Teutonic
Another winner from D.S. & Durga, the brand’s latest scent evokes blissful isolation among fir trees. A forest hut with a bevy of emerald and amber at your feet — it’s a curious setting but easily invoked upon first whiff. Woody notes of cedar, cone, and pine combine with musk, geranium, and cardamom for a verdant victory in liquid form.
Byredo — Eleventh Hour
Byredo wants Eleventh Hour to be the last scent you ever wear. It’s an exploration of the world’s end, when once-uninhabitable mountaintops become a haven from rising tides. Or: “a journey to the end of time, the last perfume on Earth,” as Byredo describes it. Heavy, right? But it is heavy, in the good way: notes of pepper, rum, cashmere woods, and tonka bean give it gravity, with bergamot and wild fig giving it clarity. After all, enlightenment only comes at the end, and that’s what the Eleventh Hour is. You can find out how Byredo founder Ben Gorham creates the perfect scent in our interview here.
Hercules Man — Mykonos
While you might associate Greek island Mykonos with crisp Aegean winds and summer sun, this scent is in fact best suited to the colder months. It evokes the island’s nightlife, with a heavier, broodier energy to it than what you’d wear out on a boat. It’s equal parts spicy, earthy, and woody, and best of all, you can wear it into spring and summer — as a night scent, of course.
Claus Porto — Musgo Real Classic Scent
Musgo Real, the men’s soap and shave line at Claus Porto, offers each of its four scent families as aftershaves, hand creams, and more. Classic Scent, the best in the assortment, is also a fixture for winter, with notes of sandalwood, patchouli, and vanilla. It smells like an old-school barbershop, and, best of all, you can pair it with the matching aftershave to double up on its warming olfactive effect.
Next up, we explain how your skincare regimen should change in winter.