Composition and compromise: a personal study

all or nothing

When I was younger, I would always be attracted to clothes of bright colors—orange or pink, especially. They were vibrant, and I wanted that vibrancy. Later, I would wear them and wonder why they weren’t as flattering as I’d imagined. It took a long time for me to realize that they didn’t complement my skin tone well, and thus made my complexion look dull.

The same principle could be applied to perfume. Years ago, I fell in love at first sniff with Lancôme’s Rouge Now or Never, with its excessively sweet and spicy vanilla. It got discontinued before I had the chance to buy it, so I lamented the one that got away, until I encountered Hypnôse about a decade later. Its sweet, floral vanilla immediately brought me back and I accepted the consolation prize, only to wish I hadn’t as I later struggled to finish the bottle.


I don’t need to wear bright orange clothes. Nor do I need to give up wearing orange! I now have craft jewelry with simple, orange-colored shapes, which accent a dark outfit nicely.

Having learned my lesson, I don’t think I’ll be buying perfumes with strong vanilla accords ever again. I’d be OK with a delicious perfume that contained the right, tiny amount of vanilla to round it out, though.


Perfume is forgiving like that. It doesn’t have “all or nothing” in its vocabulary. It manifests its sublime magic with everything in between.






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