5 Fragrances for 40somethings

By: Alia Hoyt
woman spraying herself
Looking for a new fragrance now that you're 40? We've got some gorgeous suggestions.

With every passing decade, my life (and probably most of yours) morphs in ways I never thought possible. For example, I'm now 33 years old, but I can't even begin to remember the last time I went to Happy Hour, or stayed up past midnight without a crying infant involved. Needless to say, my 30s have so far been a major departure from my 20s, and I'm sure that the next decade will bring even more changes I have yet to imagine. So, when given the extremely fun assignment of identifying fragrances ideal for fortysomething women, I naturally went straight to a selection of the target market (aka: my friends in their fabulous 40s), for suggestions and input.

For many women, the 40s bring any number major lifestyle evolutions, like elevated career responsibilities, older children who rely on their mothers less for basic needs, and so on. As such, many women find themselves itching for a new fragrance more fitting to the current stage of life. In a nutshell, they don't want to smell like teeny-boppers, but wish to stay away from little old lady fragrances, too. As such, the same women, who in their teens or twenties eagerly donned Exclamation perfume (and let's face it, the matching body powder) are in the market for something more mature.


Since there are roughly a jillion fragrances out there to choose from I've put together a list of scents to try if you're in need of a 40something-appropriate signature fragrance. Bear in mind that the same fragrance that smells delicious on your best friend might be less pleasing on you, thanks to body chemistry, diet and other factors. On the next page, check out the description of one fragrance that your nose will appreciate and might just make your taste buds water, too.

5: Angel by Thierry Mugler

If you're looking for a unique scent that'll stick in people's minds, look no further than Angel by Thierry Mugler. My friend Kathleen Bender, 44, of Kennesaw, Ga. dons this delicious fragrance regularly and has no plans of switching it up this decade. An oriental floral by category, Angel has a lot going for it. First, it's in a really edgy, cool bottle shaped like an off-kilter star. Second, unlike the vast majority of other fragrances out there, it predominantly blends food-related notes. For example, chocolate, vanilla, honey, berry, bergamot and caramel mix with warm spicy and patchouli accords in a way that just works. Thanks to the less conventional blend of scents, this fragrance is a pretty memorable one, as illustrated by my friend's recent experience.

"A retired male co-worker, who I had not seen in two years, returned to our school for a Veterans Day breakfast," says Kathleen. "When he saw me he walked right up and gave me a big hug, then held on for a minute and said, 'Oh, have I missed your smell!'"


Needless to say, Angel is recognizable, but not overwhelmingly so. If you long for a scent that will remind people of you (in a good way!), this one could be your ideal selection.

4: Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana

It's hard to imagine Dolce & Gabbana turning out a product that isn't completely awesome. Light Blue is no exception, as relayed to me by Susan Lewis, 45, of Kennesaw, Ga., who enjoys the calming effects of the eau de toilette spray. Since she's a teacher, she probably really needs it!

"When I get a whiff of the scent it takes me down a notch if I'm having a stressful day," explains Susan.


So, how is that possible, you ask? Dolce & Gabbana have worked diligently to channel the joys of Mediterranean living via the fragrance. This is an obvious perk, since I've pretty much never met anyone who dislikes the Mediterranean.

Light Blue is described by Dolce as a scent that's light enough for daytime use, but full enough for evening wear. It owes its calming fragrance to a combination of musk, apple, jasmine and rose notes. Dolce & Gabbana is often regarded as a powerhouse in the fashion industry, so it's pleasantly surprising that the Italian company has produced such a successful fragrance that's light years from being snobby or high-fashion.

3: Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker at the launch of her fragrance Lovely back in 2006.
Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage/Getty Images

It's no surprise that Sarah Jessica Parker dabbles in the fragrance industry, what with her well-documented love of style, fashion and everything related. What's shocking is that she actually has time to do it in the first place. SJP, age 47, is a busy woman, thanks to her raging career, three children and highly publicized marriage to Matthew Broderick. So although we may not all possess her waistline or amazing abs, busy moms in their 40s can certainly identify with her.

A member of the mossy woods fragrance category, Parker developed Lovely as an homage to her long-held interest in layering fragrances. As such, it features a range of scents, with top notes like lavender, bergamot and apple martini, which are cooled down with middle and bottom notes like patchouli and musk.


2: Eau des Jardins by Clarins

I have this friend who I've known for about a million years. She has excellent taste and is wonderfully passionate, so you know exactly when she truly loves something or completely hates it. Fortunately for Clarins, Eau des Jardins falls in the "thumbs up" category.

"I think as I've gotten older I have gotten away from the sweet and flowery scents and opted for more natural and earthy scents," says Staci-Jill Burnley, 40, of Alexandria, Va. "It's probably an evolved idea that natural is usually better than artificial."


Touted by Clarins as a "treatment fragrance," that can improve skin moisture and radiance, Eau des Jardins also promises to positively affect mood, which is no small task for busy women. I don't know if that actually happens for sure, but I do appreciate the outdoorsy, although not overly floral or citrusy, scent it emits. Users have reported that it actually tends to evolve throughout the day from garden-inspired to deeper and woodier. Notes include citrus, patchouli, rose and white musk, among others.

In addition, unlike the majority of other fragrances, psoralens have been removed from Eau des Jardins, making it safe for wear in the sun.

1: Prada by Prada

prada by prada
Lucky Emmy award winners were gifted with Prada perfume in 2004.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

I may not be able to afford much of anything that Prada manufactures, but after sampling this scent I will make it a mission to own this one item. And a handbag, if Santa delivers like he's supposed to this Christmas.

If light and sweet or earthy, green fragrances just aren't your cup of tea, you could be yearning for something richer, sexier and more mature. Prada by Prada will probably scratch that itch nicely. Although it's a little much for wear in the carpool line, this woody oriental fragrance is elegant, classy and perfect for evenings out with your girlfriends or husband. It might not be suited to everyone, but those 40something women who want to stand out will certainly appreciate it.


Prada by Prada produces this enjoyable fragrance thanks to a mash-up of notes like amber, balsam, bergamot, orange, vanilla, musk, sandalwood and raspberry flower, to name a few.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Basenotes. "Angel by Thierry Mugler." 2012. (Aug. 14, 2012). http://www.basenotes.net/ID10213175.html
  • Bender, Kathleen. Personal interview via e-mail. Aug. 13, 2012.
  • Burnley, Staci-Jill. Personal interview via e-mail. Aug. 13, 2012.
  • Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue. "Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue." 2012. (Aug. 15, 2012). http://www.dolcegabbanalightblue.com/en/#/female/intro/
  • FragranceNet. "D&G Light Blue." 2012. (Aug. 14, 2012). http://www.fragrancenet.com/d-and-g-light-blue-perfume/dolce-and-gabbana/womens-fragrances/wf/en_US/00646
  • Fairley, Jo. "Clarins Eau des Jardins." The Scent Critic. July 23, 2010. (Aug. 14, 2012). http://www.thescentcritic.com/2010/07/23/clarins-eau-des-jardins/
  • Fragrance Foundation. "All Fragrances." 2012. (Aug. 15, 2012). http://www.fragrancedirectory.info/PerfumeImgList1.aspx?7369643D313126656E643D74727565
  • Fragrance Foundation. "Fragrance Info/Glossary." 2012. (Aug. 15, 2012). http://fragrancefoundation.org/glossary.php
  • Fragrantica. "Angel by Thierry Mugler." 2011. (Aug. 14, 2012). http://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Thierry-Mugler/Angel-704.html
  • Fragrantica. "Eau des Jardins Clarins for women." 2011. (Aug. 14, 2012). http://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Clarins/Eau-des-Jardins-8325.html
  • Halle Berry Fragrances. "Halle by Halle Berry." 2012. (Aug. 15, 2012). http://halleberryfragrances.com/product/halle_berryBetter Homes and Gardens.
  • Lewis, Susan. Personal interview via e-mail. Aug. 13, 2012.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker Fragrances. "Lovely." 2012. (Aug. 15, 2012). http://www.sarahjessicaparkerbeauty.com/#lovely