We head into the holidays and winter with the prospect of possibly spending a lot of time in close contact with, well, maybe nobody or at least close family or roommates only. Our normal contact with friends and colleagues is limited to video or phone calls or — at the very least — interaction from six feet away, so what we smell like may be the very least of our problems. Yet, just like pulling on a crisp button-down shirt, and a pair of chinos; a spritz of a fresh new cologne can brighten your day, arouse your senses, and send a signal to your unconscious brain that it’s time to get up, get moving, and get something done for the day; something badly needed in the repetitive wheel of working from home. You may also be looking for an easy holiday gift to help brighten somebody else’s day. 2020 has seen the debut of some great scents, and we’ve made a few selections for you; dividing them up by their fragrance profiles. Cool, vegetal, or citrusy can be fresh for day; while something more earthy and elemental might be better for evening. Of course there are lots of choices that mix them up so you can make one your signature fragrance. Here are our favorite colognes of the year.
Yves Saint Laurent Y Eau Fraiche
Winner of our grooming awards from earlier this year, we still like Yves Saint Laurent’s Y Eau Fraiche. It was the biggest crowdpleaser according to our judges, so we’re keeping it at the top of our list. Notes of lemon, geranium, and cedarwood make this the quintessential summer scent, and it smells fresh yet understated, so you can use it for any occasion. We’re sure you’ll keep wearing this long after temps have dropped. That’s why it’s a recipient of The Manual 2020 Grooming Awards.
Cool, Vegetal, and Herbal Notes
Diptyque Eau de Minthé Eau de Parfum
Our Mediterranean vacation plans may be put on hold, but spritzing this minty, Greek-inspired fragrance from Diptyque is the next best thing. Features notes of geranium and patchouli.
Polo Deep Blue Parfum
Perfect for summer, Polo’s new Blue celebrates citrus and Hawaiian green mango fragrance, as well as the brand’s proprietary CristalFizz ingredient, designed to boost freshness. The parfum dries down to cypress and sage notes with a salty mineral finish.
Victorinox Signature Steel
Victorinox relaunched its fragrance range after 15 years, and we thought this lighter fragrance with note of violet, fir, and aquatic elements was a great way to start.
Citrusy and Fresh Fragrances
Kilian Bamboo Harmony
Kilian Hennessy told The Manual that he loves wearing Bamboo Harmony around his home as much as he loves wearing his favorite t-shirt, and it’s easy to see (or smell, rather) why. Notes of mimosa, white tea leaves, and bigarade (aka bitter orange) give this a calming, and refreshing aroma. In other words, it’s our favorite shelter-in-place fragrance.
Acqua di Parma Colonia Futura Eau de Cologne
Acqua di Parma is a classic Italian fragrance brand, combining heritage with a forward-thinking sense of innovation. This scent features lots of herbaceous, citrusy refreshment with lemon, clary sage, and vetiver notes.
BOSS Bottled Infinite Eau de Parfum
A Fragrance Foundation award winner for 2020, Infinite is an unexpected mix of apple, mandarin, and cinnamon with patchouli, and woody notes.
Warm, Woody, and Earthy Tones
Dior Homme Eau de Toilette
While Dior Homme’s original Eau De Toilette was already an iconic fragrance, the French brand managed to elevate its status with a new formula, featuring notes of atlas cedar, patchouli, and vetiver (a tropical essential oil) for a leading man vibe.
Calvin Klein CK Everyone
Everyone is built on Calvin Klein’s now-iconic CK One fragrance: Vegan and made from naturally derived alcohol. Organic orange oil layers over “blue tea” (think of the oolong variety of tea: Somewhere between black and green teas) and cedar. The recyclable bottle features an elastic band which is an homage to — what else — Calvin Klein underwear.
Ralph Lauren Purple Label Eau de Parfum
Square your shoulders and wear this like your best suit, even if you’re just working in your underwear. Ralph Lauren’s latest features notes of blackberry and tobacco flower, as well as deep, woody mahogany.
Warm, Woody and Exotic Ranges
Molton Brown Re-Charge Black Pepper
We love Molton Brown’s scented lotions, and the brand’s fragrances are just as impressive. In particular this peppery cologne — with notes of bergamot, coriander, and cardamom (an Indian spice) — is ideal for well-groomed lumberjacks.
Byredo Tobacco Mandarin Extrait de Parfum
We might not recommend that you smoke tobacco, other than the occasional good cigar, but as a fragrance, it’s rich and alluring. Splash this on for top notes of citrus and spice that dry down to masculine leather and tobacco.
Henry Rose Queens & Monsters
Henry Rose, founded by Michelle Pfeiffer, conceives of all of its fragrances as genderless. This latest offering, Queens & Monsters, is also Environmental Working Group and Cradle to Cradle certified for sustainability efforts. Oh yeah, it smells good, too! With notes of violet, neroli, jasmine, vanilla, and sandalwood, the fragrance is initially soft and rich, yet eventually becomes fresh and woody.
Dolce & Gabbana Men’s K Eau de Parfum
If a man’s home is his castle, you certainly deserve to wear a crown for the time you’ve had to spend there this year. Dolce & Gabbana’s K features citrus, juniper, and cardamom; deepened with cedar and patchouli.
Terre d’Hermès Pure Perfume
Woody and green, Terre features wood and bright shiso fragrances, but perhaps most intriguing is the inclusion of benzoin, a kind of balsamic resin that softens the overall effect.
David’s Perfume #01: Amber & Cashmere
It’s good to be young, rich, and an internet sensation. This blend of subtle spice and woody notes —slipped on as easily as your favorite sweater, no doubt — was developed by YouTube sensation David Dobrik.
Orion Skye 160° LAT Fragrance
With its call to the heavens and the constellations, this fragrance — developed by supermodel Tyson Beckford — features an earthy, spicy scent, brightened with citrus and lavender.
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