09 June 2009

Smell Good

The Trad Medicine Cabinet

There's a lot of men out there who think puttin' on some scent is not a manly thing. My father for one. I remember his smell like it was yesterday. The cigarette smoke hit you first followed by a ever so slight fragrance of B.O. filtered through a wash & wear khaki uniform. Shortly after 17:00 hours the juniper from the afternoon's libations mingled with the B.O. and stale smoke creating a multi-layered scent I'll never forget. "I can't seem to forget you...your Windsong stays on my mind."

In short, my Dad stunk. Plain and simple. Fortunately for me... he wasn't all that much of a hugger and fortunately for him... I didn't have the stones to complain. I only have them now because we're thousands of miles apart. I may wear tutti frutti suede shoes but I do smell nice. By the way, my father's father wore Christian Dior Eau Savage. Always. I know. I looked in his medicine cabinet all the time.

Look, I'm not saying you douse yourself in Polo like my old boss did. 200 employees in the Chicago office could smell that guy coming 10 minutes before he got to you. He reminded me of a 13 year old after gym class with a can of Right Guard.

If you're over 30 years old I'm gonna throw some advice your way. Doesn't matter if you listen or not. I used Old Spice in the Army. I'd get outta the shower, dry off, throw Old Spice talc all over me (sadly no longer made) and dab some Old Spice cologne here and there depending on if I was dating or not. Simple and cheap. I was also 20.

If you're over 30 and purchase your cologne at Walgreen's -- pay attention...dude. There's an old saying which goes like this, "Never...No, always buy the best you can afford." I know... I talk a lot about cheap stuff but cologne is something I don't wanna buy at some discount center. Who knows what that crap is. Suck it up and pay retail. And experiment. That's half the fun.

I've used, since I was 15: Canoe, Old Spice, Aramis, Devin, Royal Copenhagen, Eau Savage, Greenbriar, Eau D'Hermes, Vetivier, D.R. Harris Sandlewood, Knize 10, Trueffit & Hill Spanish Leather, Molton Brown something or other and most recently, concentrated Ylang Ylang. What I still use is in the medicine cabinet up there. There's nothing wrong with smelling good. Unless you're on patrol in which case the bad guys can smell you and will kill you. If you're not on patrol-- you may wanna give a grown up cologne some thought.


Anonymous said...

Impressive scent collection. We gals love it when a man invests a little time and money in how he smells. But, I must say, your razor choice sucks. Cut the SHIT out of my husband's face. He had to shave with my girly pink blade just so he could go to work without looking like he had been in a cat fight. D

Kim said...

I still like Canoe. DOTR will wear it for me occasionally. He loaded up at Truefitt & Hill when we were in London last year....mmmm. No shortage of good smells here.

My dad always wore Bay Run or whatever weird Avon scent my grandma bought for all the men each Christmas.

tintin said...

D- Same thing happened to me but I had good luck with the razor from the outset. It was working amazingly well when just a couple weeks ago I purchased some new blades ($36 for 8--another problem) and they were all like shaving with a beer can.

I called the 1-800 Gillette number and was promptly sent a certificate for 8 free blades. The razor is off double secret probation but is still on probation pending the discovery of a decent and cheap blade. Any ideas?

Mom on the Run- The Trueffit shop in St James is a favorite place for a haircut. Very old and a great experience.

Lynn said...

Well, we are in deep trouble or behind the times.
My husband wears Lectric Shave, and I'm currently wearing Caswell Massey strawberry cold cream soap. But we're clean.

malcolm said...

Ahem...For men: Caswell-Massey No. 6. Case closed.

tintin said...

Lynn- Y'all sound very clean to me.

tintin said...

malcolm- George Washington fan? I've worn CM Greenbriar for years and most recently discovered they discontinued the shampoo due to lack on interest. A shame. They were also gonna crap can the cologne but there was some interest there and brought it back.

The NYC shop is a blast with some very nice and helpful employees but the company seems to be going in the direction of packaging and not much else. But smells are subjective as BSG will tell you.

malcolm said...

I get the feeling CM is hanging by a thread if it gets bought up and 'modernized' I will not be surprised.
I have always liked the no. 6 scent though- subtle - some might even say weak- it would be really hard to put too much on.
They used to sell it in big bottles that were a bargain.

malcolm said...

There is a place up West Stockbridge Mass that makes its own bay rum- a family run general store- the name escapes me - it used to be a great bargain but now not so much.

On that note, I am currently trying to make my own bay rum, the results will ready in a week or so.

Michael B. said...

You can now obtain small sample vials decanted from the originals by contacting


Got the link from Will over at a Suitable Wardrobe.

These ladies decant small sampler vials from the originals, and sell them for just a few dollars each.

I hope they're bazillionaires. :)

Lynn said...

There's no preshave with the #6 collection. He's been shaving since he was 17 with Lectric Shave, and *has* to have a preshave lotion. The smells would compete. He washes with Lever 2000 or my Ivory soap. He won't touch anything that smells like flowers.

Alice Olive said...

I greatly respect how organized your medicine (male grooming) cabinet is.

Unknown said...

Annick Goutal's Eau De Sud is a nice choice for summer.

For a razor, you might ditch Gillette altogether and try a Merkur HD and their double-edged blades. The handle will set you back a tiny bit, but you'll more than make up for it on the back end with less expensive blades. As long as you're careful, you'll find them more forgiving that a Mach to the Nth Power blade. Also - it won't look like you're parking a toy rocket ship in your medicine cabinet.

Ben said...

Tips on application are usually customary with this type of article, especially in the Men-In-The-Banana-Hammocks Magazines. I like a single burst sprayed into the airspace in front of me and then running through it no more than once or twice. A former girlfriend taught me that. Keeps you from smelling like the teenager with Right Guard. If you do that and can't smell yourself then you've done it right.

And me I like the stuff from Banana Republic.

Anonymous said...

Original 4711 and Guerlain Imperiale are wonderfully fresh. My father, retired Army, now deceased, and my husband, retired Army, still very much here, count among the users.

Charles said...

Being from Boston it pains me to say I hate the Gillette Mach whatever. The first razor I bought was the Atra in the mid 90's and it was great. Nice heavy silver handle. Tried the Mach 3 but it cuts the crap out of the corners of my mouth and the Mach 5 feels just like tin said. So off to Ohio and the Schick Quattro. Couldn't be happier.

I get by with one bottle of Polo Blue. The big bottles last years for me. Definitely going to look into the decanted vial link.

You turned the Lotrimin can on purpose right?

Paul said...

Very impressive collection -

I've always liked Lime. Its fresh and clean. My wife likes Canoe. I STILL like Old Spice.

Malcom - can we preorder or take some scented cards?

Double D said...

I second double edge blades- even with the expensive handle they pay for themselves pretty quickly. The first couple of times i shaved with them i got pretty cut up, but interestingly enough, after a while, I got pretty good and when I tried to shave with my old mach iiis i cut myself like crazy.
I still use a machiii for touch up- the double edge razors can't get around the nose, etc.

Anonymous said...

Butts, B.O. and booze. Geez, your mom is one lucky lady!

Anonymous said...

Schick Quattro. And in pinch, any quattro blade will fit any quattro handle, hence the husband shaving with the pink blade. Will leave your face smooth as baby's bottom. D

ADG said...

Tintin...you gots too much stuff man. I will say though-the Sharper Image Nose Hair Trimmer is the bomb.

ADG said...

PS...you razor blade topic guys might enjoy this New Yorker article....


Anonymous said...

Unless you're on patrol in which case the bad guys can smell you and will kill you.
I don't know if its true but I hear that during one of the colonial rebellions in africa (rhodesia i think) you had to not shower for a week before you went into the bush . I would think you'd be more detectable but there we are.

malcolm said...

Malcom - can we preorder or take some scented cards?
Here is a discussion of various recipes...

Judging from some of my past "experiments", such as lethal if you threw it as someone naan bread, I don't think this will be ready for retail soon :)

John Patrick George said...

I'm not a cologne wearer, per say. My wife holds the concept over my head. Either she likes me a little unrefined or fears I might secretly be gay and wants to keep it subconscious.

But in college, I stole a bottle of Jovan Musk from my dad. I had to use it sparingly, because it was more pungent than Sex Panther, and because it was a powerful P****y magnet.

Or perhaps the Go-to-hell attitude that was a prerequisite for wearing it out was what did the trick. On second thought, I met my wife in college. Maybe that's why....

tintin said...

Malcolm- The gym at the Union League Club Chicago had Bay Rum in an unmarked bottle. Never did figure out where it came from but smelled great by the indoor pool.

Michael B- Great site. Interesting idea.

Lynn- Not all smells compete. Get thee to a website for cologne and perfume and browse around. People are doing some amazing combinations and the detail they to go into is amazing. That is, if you wanna change. Lectric shave might smell great.

Olive- I remember seeing an exhibit at a Chicago museum (Modern?) where there were nothing but huge medicine cabinet photos in searing colors - - almost like cibachrome -- they were beautiful. I can't figure out white balance.

Robert- The Merkur is on the list. Will give it a try and report back here. As soon as the free 8 blades are finished...which takes no time at all. The Eau de Sud sounds very interesting for summer but the Eau Savage is a reall classic. Been around since 1966.

Ben- I saw that method of application on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. At the time I was pitching a series to Bravo called, 'Straight Eye for the Queer Guy' where five straight men help one gay man get rid of the male nudes and sculpture in his apartment, destroy his Barney's charge card, terminate his subscriptions to GQ and AD, eating raw oysters and scallops while swooning all while learning how to say, "Hey, buddy. How ya doin? Way ahead of it's time but I think it has promise.

Anon 12:40- I remember 4711 was the preppy scent of choice among rich girls on the main line. The Gulf Foxtrot will not allow it in the house.

Charles- Yes, I turned the can of Lotrimin but just slightly.

Paul - I very much like Old Spice. Reminds me of breaking starch in the Army. Canoe? Not so much but the bottle is cool as all get out. A hipster scene only in need of a flack.

Double D - Good advice. That trimmer on the rocket ship is nice. I've always wondered about a straight razor but my barber told me carve my face up in no time.

Anon 13:57 - We've all got an odor. I think it may have helped that she smoked more than he did. I started smoking again after dating a woman who smoked. It made things a lot easier.

D- I like anything with Quattro in the name. That and Caca Fuego.

ADG- That's a nose hair trimmer?

Anon 15:12- When you maintain a meat and dairy diet, wash with Irish Spring, smoke and use roll on deodorant--A bad guy with a fish and rice diet, who doesn't bathe or smoke will sniff you out in a New York hearbeat. Very important when fighting in a jungle where you can be 5 feet from someone and not see them.

Malcolm- I have the copy for your first ad. 'Malcolm's Bay Rum. Made in the US of A, by Malcolm, in his bathtub'

tintin said...

John Patrick George- Uh-huh. Give the Yling Yling a try. I have cats following me everywhere.

Tin-tin's phred/dad said...

Thanks for the compliment(s)Tin-tin. I've always felt that a man ought to smell like a man, not a tutti-fruiti.

For quite some years now, all I use is rubbing alcohol. Clean smell, if any, after just a few minutes. Natural pheremones take care of the sexual attraction aspects (or they used to when I was younger). Household detergent takes care of the body. On the boats (and in RVs), we used "Joy" for almost everything -- we called it "the boater's friend."

Onene exception now is -- "Schiuma da Barba Shaving Foam." Made in Italy.
(You introduced me to it.) Splendid and I shave in total comfort, baby smooth, with an el-cheapo, single blade "Bic." No nicks or scrapes.

RE: Anonymous' comment (with no initials to tell which Anon it was).
In my SF unit in SE Asia, we never showered or shaved in advance if we were going on a mission (except in an emergency). Chief benefit was that you smelled so bad that the many insects would hover around you but not many would land on you. This, in contrast to U.S. regular troops, whose commanders would insist on daily shaves with whatever water was available (treated or not). Result was that U.S. troops were plagued with rashes and skin infections. They constantly slapped at bugs and slathered on lotions and such to an extent the enemy could smell them a long way off. I tried to convince U.S. commanders otherwise, but they claimed it was necessary for "discipline." I countered that if discipline was all that important, they might want to bring back the British "cat of nine tails." My sarcasm was not appreciated.

We didn't often smoke on operations. You can smell tobacco smoke a mile off. Once in a firefight though, you could yell, smoke, crap in your pants (and create other distinctive odors) since they then knew where you were and you knew where they were. All very interesting.

ZZ said...

Excellent advice on buying the best available, subject to one's budget of course. Years ago when I lived in Montreal, where both sexes seemed to be more scent conscious, someone gave me the same advice. Not being able to stick with a single choice for more than 5-6 years, I progressed through Eau Sauvage, Equipage, Imperial, Chanel Pour Monsieur, Dior Homme, Orange Vert and Eau d'Guerlain. Wouldn't wear the first two today on a bet. Scent also seems to be a function of weather and climate. My wife wears Diorissima in the Winter. It's evocative of spring, but doesn't seem to work as well in warmer weather. Couldn't agree more with the other commentary about not wearing anything too strong or noticeable like the guy's boss with his Polo.


Summer is a Verb said...

Quick, perfunctory scan of your cabinet for my fav, Hermes, and.... check, top shelf, test passed.

Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynn said...

That's why I posted that much info. I had hoped there would be something new for me, and something else he could use in place of his current preshave. I've been reading too much Suitable Wardrobe. I do like the way he smells though. Thanks for the picture, I've never seen some of those products.

M.Lane said...

Remember Woody Allen [in Annie Hall?] saying "I'm ready for my date, I've drowned my body in Canoe"?

I love Caswell Jockey Club, Guerlain Imperiale amd Corolian [when I can find it...discontinued] and Chanel Egoiste [hate the name, love the scent].

But, in a pinch, a little blended scotch doesnt do too badly, a dab behind each ear, a'la Dino. Just kidding. Sort of.


Ms. P and C said...

The two men's scents that make me weak in the knees: Hermes Poivre Samarcande, and of course Creed's Green Irish Tweed.

The Creed one is actually nice for both men and women (as Creed fragrances usually are...) Also Green Irish Tweed was supposedly the choice of Cary Grant.

Headhunter said...

Ah, a post I can get behind without fear of reprisal over a)my taste in shirtmakers or b)their colours.

I have several mainstays that events or superstition require. Polo (the Blue Blazer, Grey Flannels Trouser of colognes), Halston Z-14 (which I love but some very bad things have happened to me when wearing), Kenneth Cole Black (good business karma) or RSVP (good social karma) but my favourite is a Giorgio bottle that I enjoy only on very special occasions.

There are, of course, the random collection of "samplers" - Obsession, Boss, CKOne. Like ties and socks, one does need choices.

Zingiber said...

See, what I can't get past is the fear that I'll smell like the guy in your office but won't realize it. I am a Trumper Limes man, use their shampoo and shave cream and after-shave but it doesn't really stay with me very long which really is just fine.

Anonymous said...

Got a complimentary bottle of Eau Savage on a Saudia airline flight from Jeddah to Casablanca in 1978. Like to keep some on hand - when I can find some - to remind me of springtime in Morocco. That's what scents are for.

Anonymous said...

Davidson dudes gargled English Leather in the days of Ivy.

Anonymous said...

A "merchandised" medicine caninet? And you wonder why people think you're gay. Can't wait for a photo of your collection of carefully chosen, artfully arranged show tunes.

Giles Cook at Whispering Lazuli said...

Perhaps you father's reliance on Eau Sauvage, is not so unadventurous.
My godfather, a great aesthetic influence in my life and instrumental in preserving historic Spittalfields in 1970s London, once said to me that a chap should always wear the same aftershave.
He loves meeting old girlfriends that he has not seen for ages, only to hear them say ..... "you even smell the same".....!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe no one's written this yet: "The TRAD IS A COLOGNE SMELLER!"

tintin said...

Dad- As always an interesting and hysterical observation laced with the frustrations of army incompetence. You son, Tutti Frutti.

ZZ- Man, I really like Montreal. As close to Europe as you can get in North America. Scent is seasonal and to some degree even event oriented. Take Knize. Only in winter, only at night and very little at that -- which is why I have so much of it.

Allie- Thanks for the inspection. Next week I'm gonna post pictures of my sock drawer.

Lynn- Get out there and sniff bottles. NYC pharmacies like Cambridge and the better Pastuer are great for having boxes not sealed. Good luck.

M Lane- After having had dinner with you -- I don't doubt that at all.

Mrs P&C- I have both of them on my list. That's what I wanna hear. What makes women weak in the knees-- other than booze.

Headhunter- How many pair of lavender socks do you have and do you wear them with your lavender shirts.

Sarte- Nothing wrong with that. I like the idea of starting a day with Trumper Limes because I enjoy the smell. Same as when I use DR Harris lemon shampoo. Man, that stuff smells great and it always takes me back to Claridges Hotel where I first used it. That's a positive way to start the day in my book.

Anon 14:10 Amen. The smell of boxwood never fails to take me back to a farm in NC where I spent a lotta time as a kid. Or, how Builders Square smells like work I can't do.

Anon 14:59 - I thought they drank it.

Anon 21:44- I probably am gay but there's this one problem - - I'm obsessed with pootie tang.It's a niggling detail I know. Stay tuned for my sock drawer post--I'll even throw in the story about how athletic socks were used in barracks. I think you'll enjoy that. Lastly, there's this:


Now, can we move on?

Giles- Monogamy is fine in marriage but not for anything else. But I get your point.

Anon 10:12- Lets not give BSG any ideas.

The Look said...

Chanel Egoiste (not platinum, horrid) or Hermes Equipage for me.

You have a very tidy medicine cabinet. Is that a super-sized can of Lotramin? Going sockless has its price.

LPC said...

I know I am very late to this discussion, but I am in deep need of help. What would you recommend that a 19-year old boy replace his Axe with. Given that his mother cannot stand the smell any longer and therefore she will have be purchase said replacement?

tintin said...

The Look - Yes, that's Lotramin super sized. Fondly, The Scratch

LPC- That's a tough one. Anything you give him is already gonna have a very uncool factor about it simply by coming from you. Has he got a older cousin or an uncle he repsects? If so, buy what you like that's reasonable and have the cousin/uncle gift it to him. Casswell Massey stuff is pretty cheap for what it is, has some cool customers (JFK, G Washington, John Adams, me) and is not overpowering. Tell 'em I sent you and to bring back the Greenbriar shampoo.

LPC said...

Thanks. Will give it a try. My brother is a PhD psychologist who goes to Burning Man. Not too focused on things like body wash.

tintin said...

LPC- Yes, I worked with some people like that in government. Genius and hygiene rarely pair well together.

Tickled Pink And Green said...

Love that description of your father's "smell"...

And love your medicine chest display of scents. Very neat and orderly. :)

To this day the smell of Polo sends me back to freshman year of college. My new boyfriend wore it and we had only been dating about 3 weeks when it was Christmas break. While home shopping for presents, I'd go stop in dept stores and take a whiff and think of him. It was such an exciting and innocent time since he was my first college boyfriend. Ahhh, good times, good times.

EsseQuamVideri said...

Great advice. Lord I hope all the 30+'s heard you.

Jana FitzGerald said...

I love this! that picture smells damn good. I've always felt that the intricacies of something like ones medicine cabinet should not be overlooked.

I spy a bottle of Eau Savage! It's one of the best scents a man can wear, I think.

I mistakenly bought it for a an ex-boyfriend, wanting him to be the kind of man who would wear it. whoops.

Jana FitzGerald said...

also -- I'm wondering what your thought is on women mixing in a bit of cologne.

Jana FitzGerald said...

I also spy Santa Maria Novella!

I studied in Florence for 6 months and never bought one product because it was always closed when I was there. By principle, I can't by these products stateside.

I'm going back after 5 years and I will not come back empty handed, dammit.

DEFishback said...

Well done, and I could not agree more on the Harris Sandalwood -- very distinctive and masculine.

I recommend some of the Penhaligon's scents as well, particularly the English Fern (fresh green), Douro Eau de Portugal (woody/soapy citrus), and Blenheim Bouquet (pine and citrus). Don't expect the ladies to like Blenheim, though.

I spy a mini round of the Roger & Gallet Jean Marie Farina soap; I like the JMF eau de cologne for warmer weather but am out right now.

Doug Fishback

adhoc said...

I don't know if this site is still active so this is kind of a long shot but there is so little information related to Truefitt & Hill out there! As to my question (if you don't mind), the bottle of T&H Spanish Leather - is that the vintage version before they reformulated? I'm trying to figure out how to differentiate between the current bottles and the vintages ones.

Kind Regards