If (like me) you’re the type of person who considers a fragrance wardrobe switch-up just as essential as a regular wardrobe switch-up, now’s the time when you’ll most likely be putting aside summer’s bright, zesty florals in favour of deeper, cosier winter perfumes. Cold winter days call for warm, rich scents such as Maison Margiela’s By the Fireplace or & Other Stories’ Midnight Encore, which lend themselves to the season of glamorous parties, brisk walks and cosy dinners.
I naturally gravitate to warm, woody notes like cedarwood, musk, pepper and amber all year round, so it will come as no surprise to anyone that winter is my favourite season to experiment with scent, and I will literally not leave home without it. In my mind, finishing off my outfit choice with a spritz of perfume allows me to complete the vibe I’m going for, be it cosy layers or festive glamour.
Whether you’re drawn to vibrant, showstopping fragrances (perfect for any upcoming festive events) or you prefer soft, intimate scents, I’ve covered all the traditional notes of the season alongside some unconventional new offerings.To help you narrow down your selection, I’ve pulled together the very best winter fragrances available now.
Like all Penhaligon’s scents, this has excellent lasting power. I notice that it lingers on my skin and clothes for days after application. Inspired by a refreshing gin and tonic, the brand literally describe it as a complex cocktail (so it’s the perfect party perfume). What I love most about Juniper Sling is that although it’s initially sharp and sweet, it settles into something far more sensual, earthy and familiar. And although it sounds like there’s a lot going on, it totally works.
Key notes: juniper berry, orange, angelica, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, leather, orris root, vetiver, sugar, cherry, amber
Intoxicatingly glamourous, this is the perfect accompaniment to a night of festivities. Combining elegant notes of pear, sweet pea and lemon blossom, it’s a grown-up take on a fruity floral with just the right balance of woody notes to give it a wintry depth.
Key notes: pear, orange, sweet pea, amyris, lemon blossom, iris, vetiver, musk, amber
Not only is this one of my all-time favourite perfumes, but it’s perfect for evening wear at this time of year. It’s rich and boozy but simultaneously sharp and fresh, so it’s a guaranteed mood-booster and always brings in the compliments. I particularly love the rollerball version, as the oil formula lingers on skin for hours on end.
Key notes: bergamot, plum, anise, leather, rum, vanilla, patchouli, amber, milk
I’m always so impressed by how expensive and sophisticated & Other Stories’ fragrances smell considering they come in at such an affordable price point. It’s hard to choose a favourite, but Midnight Encore works so well for winter—and not only because the name is a clear reference to party season. It’s a vibrant amalgamation of classic winter notes like pepper, cashmere, ambroxan and musk.
Key notes: black pepper, coconut water, jasmine, fig, cashmere, musk, ambroxan
This new Ex Nihilo perfume has notes of sandalwood, iris and musk paired with sweet vanilla. It’s a sensual winter perfume that will instantly get you in the mood to get glammed up. Powdery without being cloying, it’s both luxurious and complex. In fact, every time I wear it I notice something different about the scent.
Key notes: nutmeg, iris, milk, sandalwood, musk, vanilla
Although it doesn’t rely on the obvious notes associated with an evening fragrance, this lends itself so well to night time wear. The combination of sweet and woody base notes make it an incredibly sensual fragrance, while jasmine and saffron keep it sophisticated. I’m calling this the most romantic scent for winter 2022, so if you have a December full of date nights, this is the one to reach for.
Key notes: bergamot, lemon, jasmine, saffron, cyclamen, sandalwood, vanilla, musk, amber, moss, cedarwood
The original Escentric Molecules formula (Molecule 01) is a cult fragrance that heroes just one ingredient, Iso E Super. “It’s one of those skin-sexy scents that makes you want to nestle into it. It’s comforting, cocooning,” says perfumer Geza Schön. This particular blend adds just one more note, iris. The result is buttery and suede-like, so if you’re a fan of floral scents but don’t like anything too overpowering, it’s perfect for winter.
Key notes: ISO E Super, iris
Most winter fragrances are warm and rich, but this reminds me of a crisp, fresh winter morning. (For what it’s worth, it’s a great autumn scent too.) Sweeter and a little subtler than Aesop’s other perfumes, the spicy notes and kick of cumin give it the elegance and sophisticated edge I’ve come to expect from Aesop fragrances.
Key notes: black pepper, olibanum, petitgrain, frankincense, cedar, cumin, sandalwood, vetiver
No winter perfume edit would be complete without a Byredo addition. A sophisticated, woody gourmand, Slow Dance is the very opposite of the citrusy splashes you’d reach for in summer. It’s boozy, opulent, and to me perfectly embodies the vibe of a romantic winter evening.
Key notes: opoponax, cognac, labdanum, violet, geranium, vanilla, patchouli, incense
Created “for men” but perfect for anyone, especially those who like to make a statement with their perfume. If you’re after a showstopping fragrance that brings in the compliments, look no further. The tart zestiness of bergamot and orange balances out with the heat of leather and vetiver, creating something altogether vibrant and spicy. A real crowd-pleaser.
Key notes: ginger, bergamot, mandarin orange, Angelica, nutmeg, vetiver, olibanum, leather, amber, musk
If the spirit of the season’s biggest and most glamorous party were a fragrance, it would be this one. Floral notes of rose, magnolia and geranium lead the way, grounded by a spicy patchouli base. It’s sensuous, mysterious, and enveloping. Seriously, one spritz will turn heads.
Key notes: magnolia, musk, tangerine, Bulgarian rose, vanilla, blueberry, coconut, geranium, patchouli
While its name and notes might trick you into thinking this is a summer fragrance, the sweet floral works surprisingly well as a winter scent. It’s light and airy at first, but as it settles onto my skin, I find it warms up and the woody base really comes through.
Key notes: gardenia, suede cardamom, elemi, grey woods
While it may not be billed as a winter scent, Glossier You gives me major cosy season vibes. It’s soft and comforting, so wearing it feels like the olfactory equivalent of changing into my cosiest cashmere.
Key notes: ambrette, ambrox, iris, pink pepper
Not your stereotypical rose-based perfume… In fact, if you’re torn between woody and floral, this does both in perfect balance. It’s loaded with really distinctive notes (such as rose, pepper, incense and musk) to deliver instant winter vibes with every spritz.
Key notes: black rose, pink pepper, black pepper, incense, black orchid, mimosa, cashmere wood, cedarwood, musk
By the Fireplace is a winter fragrance that I return to without fail every year. It’s rich, expensive and smoky, and lingers impressively on skin, hair, clothes and in the air behind me. Just as its name suggests, it instantly makes me think of evenings spent inside, enjoying the warmth of a log fire.
Key notes: cloves, pink pepper, orange blossom, chestnut, guaiac wood, juniper, vanilla, Peru balsam, cashmeran
If you want a sweet fragrance with a grown-up twist, Velvet is a deliciously sheer scent that delivers on the winter warmth without being at all overpowering. It doesn’t have the weight of an evening fragrance, but that makes it an ideal scent for daily wear. It’s intimate and comforting, like a hug from an old friend.
Key notes: white birch, coconut water, vanilla, amber, roasted almonds, rose petals
A nod to a winter walk in a forest, this fragrance calls upon aromatic fir balsam, earthy gentiane absolute and warm and comforting cashmere and amber woods. Beauty Pie is another brand that continually surprises me by delivering such impressive scents at really reasonable prices, so if you’re after an affordable fragrance for winter, I’d highly recommend checking this out.
Price shown is member price. Key notes: Bergamot oil, fir, gentian absolute, balsam fir absolute, cashmere wood, cedarwood oil, moss, amber, guaiac wood
If you intend to spend your festive season dancing into the small hours, just a few spritzes of this will last you from dusk until dawn (and vice versa). Creamy tonka unfurls into smoky myrrh in this mysterious scent.
Key notes: Lavender, Omumbiri Myrrh, tonka bean
Intoxicating is the best word to describe Hinoki Fantôme. In one spritz, a cocktail of warm and woody notes collide in the most invigorating way, topped off with the freshness of balsam and the smokiness of leather.
Key notes: cypress, black pepper, olibanum, tobacco leaves, orris, cedarwood atlas, hinoki, fir balsam, patchouli, oakmoss, smoked leather, cypriol, cistus
A winter hike in a bottle, September may be named for an autumn month, but it perfectly captures the winter elements with its combination of woody, fruity and floral notes, finished with smoky vetiver. What’s more, the majority of ingredients used in this blend are natural and certified organic.
Key notes: pomelo, kumquat, lavender, eucalyptus, apple blossom, jasmine, vetiver, papyrus, guaiac wood, pink praline
The name Peacock Throne gives you an idea of the glamour and intensity that this fragrance evokes. A party-perfect cocktail of pepper, jasmine, vetiver and patchouli, it’s ideal for a winter night out and will instantly capture the attention of those around you.
Key notes: pink pepper, Indian jasmine, orris root, taif rose, vetiver, patchouli, vanilla
I’m not usually a fan of oud-based fragrances, but it has to be said: Oud is perfect for winter (think rich, deep and smoky). In this particular blend, it’s grounded and softened a little by the earthier notes of myrrh and angelica, making this a perfect day-to-night scent.
Key notes: angelica seed, papyrus, saffron, tarry, leather, styrax, benzoin, myrrh, oud
Orpheon has the perfect combination of notes for a classic winter fragrance, from bitter juniper through to deep cedar. Inspired by a late-night Parisian bar, it opens with a burst that’s both powdery and aromatic. In my opinion, this unisex scent gives major expensive hotel lobby vibes.
Key notes: juniper berry, cedar, tonka bean, jasmine