The Untitled Magazine

While some fragrances are strictly for special occasions, there are many that you gravitate towards time after time, year after year, like these ten classic summer fragrances. Some have been out for decades and others are new releases, but all will stand the test of time and remain staples in your perfume collection.

When discussing perfumes, people reference the “notes” of the fragrance. The notes of all these perfumes are delicate and light, perfect for the summer heat. The notes can be layered, but not all perfumes have more than one grouping. Top notes of perfumes are ephemeral yet punchy; they’re usually the first scents you smell and the first to fade. Middle notes are a bit heftier, and meld the top and bottom notes together into one cohesive scent. The bottom notes are the longest lasting, and provide the base scent that allows the others to build atop it, creating the individual perfume.

The perfumes on this list are broken down into their directional notes when possible and include a scent synopsis.

Courtesy of Sephora

Her Eau de Toilette, by Burberry

Top Notes: Pear, Strawberry, Black Currant, Pink Pepper
Middle Notes: Peony, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rose, Honeysuckle
Bottom Notes: Musk, Cedar

Her Eau de Toilette was launched in 2022 by nose Francis Kurkdjian. The fruity-floral perfume is fresh and not-too-sweet, drying down nicely into a peppery finish that lasts for hours.

Courtesy of Chanel

Gabrielle Parfum, by Chanel

Top Notes: Tuberose, Orange Blossom, Jasmine, Ylang-ylang, Vanilla Absolute, Sandalwood

The Parfum Gabrielle designed by Olivier Polge is another new scent (2022) and is more sensual than its Gabrielle parent. The bottle too is newly designed, with an intense vaporizer focused on precision so that the precious Tuberose florals can lie directly on your pulse points.

Indigo by Nest. Promo image of Indigo by Nest for Sephora.
Courtesy of Sephora

Indigo, by Nest

Top Notes: Fig, Bergamot
Middle Notes: Tea, Cardamom
Bottom Notes: Cashmere, Wood

Laura Slatkin’s 2014 fragrance was inspired by a ’92 trip to London, particularly a tea shop on Bond Street. Indigo has a heavy sweetness that’s not too spicy, so the top notes of Fig aren’t syrupy no matter how hot it gets.

Courtesy of Revolve

You Or Someone Like You, by Etat Libre d’Orange

Top Notes: Mint, Grapefruit, Bergamot, Anise
Middle Notes: Green Notes, Cassis, Rose, Hedione
Bottom Notes: White Musk

In 2017, Caroline Sabas created this minty-fresh scent with green and floral undertones, and it’s been a favorite for the summer ever since. You or Someone Like You has a clean and pleasant smell that projects better than shampoo or soap but remains subtle (and not overpoweringly minty) throughout the day.

Ralph Ralph Lauren Perfume. Promo image of Ralph Ralph Lauren Perfume for Sephora.
Courtesy of Sephora

Ralph, by Ralph Lauren

Top Notes: Apple Leaf, Italian Mandarin, Japanese Osmanthus
Middle Notes: Yellow Freesia, Magnolia, Boronia
Bottom Notes: Musk, White Iris

Alain Alchenberger created this light and girlish scent in 2000 and those who have it, still love it! The deeper musk holds the fresh fruitiness together nicely, and Ralph is a long-lasting fragrance that stays well on your skin, and for days on your clothes. This scent is crisp, unserious and very nostalgic.

Courtesy of Nordstrom

Grapefruit Cologne, by Jo Malone

Top Notes: Grapefruit, Tangerine
Middle Notes: Rosemary, Mint, Paprika, Jasmine
Bottom Notes: Vetiver, Oakmoss, Patchouli

This 1992 scent by classic perfumer Jo Malone is extremely subtle and delicate but can layer well with other perfumes if you want a more intense fragrance. The peppery and greenish grapefruit can absolutely stand alone, though, and is a unisex scent perfect for sharing with your partner. It progresses elegantly in the heat, giving you unique and elevated expressions throughout the day.

Le Labo Fleur D'Oranger 27. Promo image of Le Labo Fleur D'Oranger 27 for Nordstrom.
Courtesy of Nordstrom

Fleur d’Oranger 27, by Le Labo

Top Notes: Orange Blossom, Petitgrain, Bergamot, Lemon

Le Labo has enjoyed a recent upswing in popularity, with Santal 33 being the scent of the summer in 2020, but Francoise Caron’s 2006 Fleur d’Oranger 27 is a classic citrus that can’t be beaten. Citrus scents have a bad reputation, purportedly fading quickly and projecting poorly, but this fragrance is bright and bold, drying down to a woody floral reminiscent of an orange grove.

Courtesy of Nordstrom

Colette, by Tocca

Top Notes: Amalfi Lemon, Bergamot, Juniper Berries, Mandarin Orange
Middle Notes: Violet, Pink Pepper, Jasmine, Cyclamen
Bottom Notes: Vanilla, Sandalwood, Musk, Amber, Virginia Cedar, Incense, Pine needles

This 2010 perfume makes a wonderful signature scent. Irina Burlakova is the nose behind this fresh, natural, but not powdery fragrance that many consider the cottage-core essential. The sweetness of the lemon and the florals is balanced by the pine and incense, seemingly drying down grassy and green.

Courtesy of Nordstrom

Ilio, by Diptyque

Top Notes: Prickly Pear, Iris, Bergamot, Jasmine

Florals for summer are nothing new, but Diptyque’s Ilio is unique and joyful, characterized by irises. This 2021 scent is clean and powdery, softening the stronger florals as it dries. The prickly pear and jasmine combine beautifully to add some complexity to what might be a boring floral, and the end result is a timeless scent that complements anyone’s collection well. 

Valentino Voce Viva Perfume. Valentino Voce Viva Perfume bottle for Nordstrom.
Courtesy of Nordstrom

Voce Viva, by Valentino

Top Notes: Mandarin Orange, Bergamot, Ginger
Middle Notes: Orange Blossom, Gardenia
Bottom Notes: Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Musk, Sandalwood, Oakmoss

Honorine Blanc and Amandine Clerc-Marie created Voce Viva in 2020, and this classic scent is perfect for everyday wear in the summer. The orange starts strong and then dries into light vanilla, and the notes of ginger and sandalwood create a sophisticated finish that is versatile and luxurious.

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