If you're new to the world of fragrance, it's easy to assume that good perfume comes from high-end fashion houses and that other perfumes may be good but not quite at the same level. While luxury designers may produce gorgeous fragrances, the truth is that there are also plenty of other companies making perfumes that are just as good, if not better, depending on your own personal preferences. A good fragrance has a good wear time, a scent that is obvious without being overpowering, and a complex mixture of scents that come together to create a versatile scent that fits the mood for a variety of occasions.
In the perfume industry, sillage is the trail of scent left behind by a perfume. A good perfume has good sillage, so the people around you can get a whiff of what you smell like without invading your personal space. You'll also want to consider the longevity of a scent. Some designer perfumes have low longevity and require a touch-up throughout the day to keep the scent going, but for the most part, high-end fashion perfumes are designed to have a long-lasting scent that you won't have to reapply while you're out and about.
Most fragrances are made up of a variety of scent notes. The top notes are the first ones you smell, and underneath those are the middle notes, also known as heart notes, which emerge as the scent warms up on your skin. These are layered over the base notes, which pull the scent together and linger on your skin after the rest of the notes have faded away. High-quality perfumes tend to be more complex, blending many different notes. Knockoffs tend to only be able to copy the top notes of a scent, so these products lack depth and fade faster.
High-quality perfumes may be designed to be appropriate for a specific season, occasion (casual or formal), time of day, gender, and/or age. There's no such thing as a fragrance that fits every season, every person, and every time of day. Fragrances should be chosen like you choose your wardrobe: An outfit that's perfect for a fun day at the beach won't be the same as what you wear to an evening wedding in the winter, and the right perfumes for these situations won't be the same, either. That said, many people gravitate toward one signature scent that works well for a variety of occasions.
After the perfume is manufactured, it needs to be packaged. Frequently, designer perfumes will be packaged in bottles called flacons, and these bottles are designed with as much care as the fragrance inside, like small works of art. Designers will go out of their way to create a flacon and cap that truly embody what the scent is meant to exude. Thought is also given to the outer box, which must coordinate well with the aesthetic of the scent inside.
Even if you believe you've done the work to buy an authentic bottle of luxury perfume, it's always a good idea to double-check to ensure that you didn't buy a knockoff scent. There are a few different ways you can tell the difference between the real perfume and a good copy. One of these indicators is how the cellophane is wrapped around the box; authentic perfumes have thick cellophane folded flawlessly to tightly wrap the box, while counterfeits may be improperly wrapped. The packaging underneath should be made from high-quality white paperboard that protects the bottle; it's specifically designed and constructed to keep the bottle in place. Counterfeits are often unable to replicate that and may use a grayish paperboard instead.
Examine the design of the bottle inside as well, comparing it to one you know to be genuine. Check little details like the alignment and symmetry of the cap; counterfeiters don't pay as much attention to getting these things exactly right. Then, take a look at the liquid inside the bottle. Legitimate brands do not use dye in their products, so the liquid is often pale in color. If the perfume in your bottle seems a little off, it may have been dyed to try to match the color of the original.