Is there such a thing as “too much of a good thing”?
In short, I’ve done excess and known the regret of it. And that is what I think of, every time I see someone posting about “pairing down their collection” or “giving up all but their favorites” or “cleaning out their perfume cabinet.”
Have I got too much perfume? Have I gone too far? Do I really appreciate the perfume I have? Do I really want or need more? FN1. Would some of it be better off in someone else’s hands, someone else’s home, where it might be better appreciated?
That is the sentiment that stayed my hand Saturday night when I looked at my bank account, looked at my computer, and then thought, “Okay, let’s go shopping!” As I began looking through my options – limited editions here, sales over there, decants verses bottles, samples verses either, the list of things I thought I wanted, the list of things I’ve got – I was haunted by the thought that maybe I had enough already.
Tonight in the car Rafaela, who has never been subjected to a stroll through Diana’s perfume collection, asked me how many bottles I had. I don’t know, I responded immediately. But you must have some idea, she pressed. You were just telling me that you redid your inventory spreadsheet today.
Truthfully, though, I didn’t know. I hadn’t bothered to look. Hell, I hadn’t even finished updating my excel file. I’d only made it through bottles, not decants or minis, and certainly not through samples, which remains untackled. Somewhere, somehow, I genuinely lost count of my perfume.
So tonight, I counted.
85 bottles. EIGHTY-FIVE. And this is genuine “this is not our sample size, you are buying some larger quantity of this perfume” bottles, which does not even include Demeters. Minis and decants? Another seventy-four. Samples? Back in September it was over 500, and I know that number is a measurable quantity larger now, but my recatalogue is not yet complete. This doesn’t count the two bottles or handful of samples I did finally order Saturday night, or the samples headed my way for review, or the bottle I gave away to LillieMae just because she liked it and I had more than enough. FN2.
Yet, I feel like I’ve only dipped a toe into the wide world of beautiful perfumes out there to smell. For example, I haven’t ever smelled Chanel No. 19. I think I’ve tried maybe three Le Labos, and none of them were the location restricted ones. My familiarity with Creed and Serge Lutens is (in my opinion) wafer thin. For every Caron or Goutal or Worth or Guerlain I have tried, there are four or five I haven’t. I haven’t tried nearly enough from Aftelier Perfumes or Frederic Malle or so many others I can’t think of right now.
But looking at my collection, I couldn’t deny it. I have a ton of perfume, and yet, I feel I owe it to myself to keep trying all the beautiful scents out there to try. But I knew I crossed a certain perfumey line when LillieMae was loving a particular perfume and, without hesitating, I gave her the bottle. I remembered the day Angela from Now Smell This! did the same things for me, handing off a bottle of S-Perfume %100 Love without batting an eyelash. She knew I’d get more out of it, and I did. I have almost finished the bottle. So maybe this is also the beginning of a new phase, a phase where I not only continue to explore perfume, but start to focus my collection, creating something that isn’t just a bunch of random perfume, but a beautiful wardrobe and art collection, so that I better appreciate what I have and some lovely perfume gets a more appreciative home.
So welcome to our season of spring discernment at Feminine Things, both perfume related and more broadly. I feel strangely excited about it. I hope you do, too.
FN1. Okay, I always want more. Instead it’s a question of whether I should buy more and do I already have more than I know what to do with.
FN2. Because I know you people: I bought samples from DSH Perfumes and JoAnne Bassett. I would have bought some from Ayala Moriel Natural Perfumes but the site order system wasn’t cooperating; I bought a bottle of L’Artisan Dzongkha from the sale; and slumberhouse Mur from IndieScents because I am apparently probably their biggest fan, and I bought it in anticipation of warmer days ahead.
Editor's note: I got the loveliest follow-up email from Ayala herself, apologizing about the web difficulties and welcoming me back. Not only was it the sweetest thing, it also completely underestimated my willingness to walk through fire for perfume as good as hers. :)