Fragrance is a little like color -- the perfect option is in the eye (or nose) of the beholder. Choosing the right fragrance for your girl is about picking up on the subtle signs.
What scents does she enjoy -- Check her toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion and other perfumes she has to see if you can detect a pattern. If you see flowery scents like lavender or tea rose repeated in a number of products, it'll give you valuable direction. Perfumes, colognes and other scents are typically broken into categories like floral, woodsy, earthy, fruity and exotic (oriental). Armed with some of her preferences, you can ask a sales expert to help narrow the selection for you.
Take your time -- By all means, get out to the mall and explore the popular fragrance options on the market. Don't just sniff a "tester" fragrance and make an instant choice based on the "bottle" smell, though. Fragrances are built in layers of many ingredients that change over time and exposure to the air. Spritz a little on a tissue (or your wrist if you're brave), and wait a half hour to see if you still think the product will work for her. All scents morph over hours of wear.
Hedge your bets -- You may want to go all out with a nice bottle of French perfume. Choosing a less intense fragrance might be a better choice if you're not sure what she'll like. Essential oils are what give fragrances their aromatic punch. Perfume is the most concentrated and expensive option with 22 percent essential oil content or more. Eau de cologne comes in as the least concentrated choice at about 4 percent, with eau de toilette somewhere in the middle at between 8 and 15 percent. If you start with a less concentrated fragrance, you'll spend less and can always follow up with a more concentrated and expensive product once you know she likes the scent.
Take her with you -- This may sound like a cheat, but it's actually an inspired idea. How better to decide on a fragrance than by taking her on a perfume testing date? Make an afternoon of it. She'll love the romantic attention. This approach makes good science sense, too. All fragrances alter somewhat based on the wearer. Some call it chemistry while others call it the alchemy of personality. However you care to define it, any fragrance product you decide on will smell slightly different once she's wearing it. Bringing the object of your affection along will just about guarantee that you'll make the right fragrance choice -- and enjoy an afternoon to remember.