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Perfume Etiquette: Three Rules for Wearing Party Scents

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Harajuku Lovers Holiday set

If in the corporate elevator up to your office this morning your sinuses shrieked in reaction to someone's strong, sexy perfume, your lift companion is guilty of practicing poor perfume etiquette. According to Marian Bendeth, fragrance expert of global renown, advisor and owner of a consulting business called Sixth Scents, there are a few rules to keep in mind when it comes to evening fragrance, especially this office-to-dinner time of year. Here's her advice, along with a few scent suggestions I thought you might like. Harajuku Lovers Snow Bunnies Blockbuster Set of limited-edition 10 mL snowbunnies in a cute carrying case, $100 (value, $150) at Murale, Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores across Canada.

In Bloom by Reese WItherspoon

1) Do not apply your evening scent before 9 am. "It's too powerful for office wear," says Bendeth. Instead, wear your everyday fragrance to work, then when prepping for after-five fun, use soap and water or a pre-packaged alcohol swab to remove it before putting on your evening selection. Alternatively, you might choose from a collection that has a light eau de toilette version you can start with in the morning, and touch up post workday with a headier, 'Intense' eau de parfum version of the same fragrance for your night. In Bloom by Reese Witherspoon, a floral oriental with peach tea leaves, gardenia, magnolia, cashmere woods and amber. 50 mL, $45 CAN/$34 US at

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Christmas 2009

2) Apply perfume before you get dressed. "Hold the bottle six inches from your body and pump the atomizer just once per pulse point -- each wrist -- and once at the throat," instructs Bendeth. Or spray the air just in front of you and walk through it to let the mist settle on your bare skin. Never rub fragrance into the skin unless it's in lotion or cream form, says Bendeth, because friction crushes the molecules and changes the scent. You don't want to spray your clothing either -- that can result in an overpowering application, and the perfume's oil can damage the fabric. "Perfume needs the skin's warmth to diffuse it," adds Bendeth. Viktor & Rolf limited-edition Flowerbomb Christmas 2009, the same floral of bergamot, tea, jasmine, freesia, rose and patchouli as the original, but all dolled up in a sparkly pink party frock. $125 CAN at Holt Renfrew, Ogilvy and select Bay stores.

Givenchy Ange ou Demon Le Secret Holiday set

3) Think intimacy. Fragrance is designed to be alluring, not to shout from the next room. "People further than an inch away from you shouldn't be able to smell your perfume," Bendeth says. If you're applying more than a spritz because you can't smell it yourself anymore, it's time to introduce your nose to something else. Givenchy Ange ou Demon Le Secret, a fruity floral with cranberry, green tea leaves, lemon, white peony, jasmine, blond woods, white musk and patchouli. $114 CAN per holiday set of eau de parfum, shower gel and body lotion (value, $150) at The Bay and Shoppers Drug Mart.

So maybe print this out and put it up in the elevator? *grin*