Size Matters

I own 32 bottles of perfume. I’ve always considered my collection to be perfectly respectable, size-wise; it’s certainly big enough to freak out non-perfumistas (“Is… is that a refrigerator? For your perfumes?”).

It’s more of a mini-fridge, really. Bonkers About Perfume has two, I swear!

This delusion was quickly shattered upon visiting Judith of The Unseen Censer, who graciously hosted me overnight so that I could go to Sniffapalooza. In addition to meeting Judith’s delightful family and the famous Harleycat, I also got to see a real perfume collection. Judith has three large dresser drawers dedicated to perfumes. Then there were the perfumes on top of the dresser. Then there were the perfumes under the bed. Then there were the perfumes in the bathroom. Around the time that Judith started pulling out her vintage Amouages (WITH THE ORIGINAL PACKAGING), I suddenly understood that my collection is actually pathetically puny compared to some of my perfume peers.


So today, let’s talk about size and whether it matters. How big is your perfume collection? Are you happy with that number? Are you looking to expand or downsize? Despite its puniness, my collection is actually too full at the moment (I currently have six perfumes that I never, ever wear). I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to achieve anything approaching the glory of Judith’s collection, but I’ll try my best to catch up. It’s hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it!

55 thoughts on “Size Matters

  1. I only own about 10-15 bottles of perfume. I say ‘own’, because about 5 of them are actually my wife’s. Some people are sometimes surprised – I get the feeling they think a ‘perfumista’ should own dozens of bottles. I’d love to own drawerfuls, but the honest and sad reality is that my financial situation simply does not extend to indulging in this luxury very much, which is why I rely mostly on samples. Some people think that using samples are not really ‘wearing’ perfume, in the sense that you usually can’t spray them on all the usual areas, certainly not with any abandon, but without samples, I would have missed out on hundreds of perfumes. I also know that ml for ml samples clearly work out more expensive, but still, I feel better about having 300 samples in my drawer than 300 bottles.

    Another thing – while I’d love to own lots of bottles, I know that I would never work through them, even if I gave juice away generously. In fact, most of the 10-15 bottles I own I’ve had for more than four years and most are still well over half full!

    1. Same here! I have yet to get through a single bottle, even the 30 ml ones.

      If I lived in a city with better access to perfume, I suspect that I would be completely broke. I would be the best-smelling hobo living under the bridge!

    2. I think that 10-15 loves (plus 300 samples!) is a great number. And I agree about the power of samples– I feel like my collection is way bigger, because of my samples. I love samples. I’m one of those people who is a “light spritzer/dabber”, so a sample can easily last me 5 wearings.

  2. Oh, I feel much better now. πŸ™‚
    I thought the fact I’m approaching 100 bottles might really be pushing it, but it seems Judith (by what you now said) has much more, so I feel fine with my hundred or so.

    But I only admitted that here, I’d never say that to my family, friends or boyfriend. πŸ˜‰

  3. Well my full bottles stands at about 130 and will continue to grow as new scents are produced. Though there are bottles that I no longer wear much because my tastes have changed, I plan on keeping the majority because you never know when those will again be at the top of your list.
    Because the cost of many high end niche fragrances has soared to the moon, there are many of those I will never sample. Why fall in love with something that you know you will never be able to afford. I refuse to buy anything that is going to run over 200 dollars. It is sad that the acutual cost of the juice in the bottle is very minimal. You are paying the exhorbidant prices for the bottle, packaging, advertising and hype. Those unsmelled buys that I am not totally in love with, I end up trading on Swapamania on the Possee. I have really enjoyed your new postings on the possee. It’s nice to be able to read your wonderful work whether here on your blog or on others. You will always be my favorite because you either have me crying buckets or laughing my ass off. Keep up the outstanding work.

    1. That’s a good point (about not getting rid of bottles when your tastes change). I wore SJP Lovely before becoming a perfumista, but then left it alone for 4 years. Now I love it again– and it’s so cheap! It’s one of my guilty pleasures.

      Like you, I’ve also swapped bottles on Swapmania. Don’t you love swapping bottles? I have a few more that I need to unload at the next swapmania: Love Chloe, Boadicea The Victorious Seductive, Illamasqua Freak, L’Artisan Premier Figuier… I could probably name 10 bottles that I’d like to part with in order to get something else that I’d love more. I’ve received nice bottles as presents that just didn’t work well on my skin.

      Ari- you should do a post where we count how many bottles in our collection we’d like to swap/sell for something else! That number is surprisingly high for me. Which reminds me… I really need to list on MUA again. Off to tinker with my swap list.

    2. Dremy, I agree with you – there are high-end fragrance lines, such as By Kilian, Amouage, & JAR that I’ve never tested for fear I might fall in love with something I’ll never be able to buy. Anyway, there are plenty of fragrances I love that are at much more reasonable price points.

      1. I was so relieved to be wholly unimpressed with the JAR line when I finally got to try it at Bergdorf’s this month. There is virtually nothing I need less than a JAR lemming.

  4. I’ve never counted. I should do that. Yikes!

    What are we counting as full bottles exactly?

    Are you counting the bottles from pre-perfumista days? Perfume gifts from well intentioned family who know that you like perfume? Do large decants count? What about partial bottles that you bought or swapped for, that were used already? Counting is HARD! πŸ™‚

    1. We are only counting what you want to count!! Don’t count them if you think it will be more stressful than fun! Personally, I don’t count anything below 30 ml (or maaaaybe 15).

  5. Size surely is relative – I don’t have a mini-fridge! Not even one!

    But I’m glad to make Ines feel better. πŸ™‚

    I do think if a collection is so big that things sit unloved, that’s the break point at which it’s TOO big. As long as I spread my love around aaaaaall the little bottles, it’s OK.

    And AubreyZ is correct. Counting IS hard! I mean, how do you count decants? The tiny 5 ml bottles that are “full bottles” from some vendors? It’s hard to count!

    Also: u r best houseguest evar. Do come again.

    1. P.S. also it’s only 2 drawers, and it’s a lingerie chest so in fact the drawers are small. Perhaps they loom larger in imagination? πŸ™‚ There’s a picture of drawer 1 online here.

  6. I own around 20 different perfumes (FB) + several back ups (mostly Guerlains, and in particular Attrape coeurs).
    (then there are a few FB mistakes, which I won’t count πŸ˜‰ )

    I think size matters and my collection is already too BIG!!!

    While I would love to have more than a tiny sample vial of a couple (ahem, at least five!!!) fragrances that I’m digging right now, I already feel ashamed by:
    1) how little use most bottles get.
    (I am an underapplier! Even the perfumes that I use on a weekly/almost daily basis look full, sort of “wasted”).
    2) the very personal feeling that there are boundaries to place in such a selfish treat.
    (as in indulge, but but not over-indulge?)
    3) how little love and care 90% of my samples get.
    (I even threw away a few, gifted away so many, and still have too much!!)

    To say the truth, I always feel uncomfortable when someone displays huge collections of “stuff”, so big that they will never use it up (or, even worse, that they don’t even mean to use!!!).

    So If I already feel uncomfortable with 20 different and beloved FB choices, how could I manage more????

    I’d feel better if I had smaller bottles and if they didn’t look so full.
    (disclaimer: I wear perfume twice a day, and mostly from my FBs, not my samples)

    1. You were so smart to get Attrape-Coeur backups!!! I stupidly thought that surely they wouldn’t discontinue it a SECOND time… 😦
      I would love more small bottles too, and also shorter bottles! Some are too tall to fit in my mini-fridge.

  7. Just counted – 41 bottles of 1 oz or more (even if some were partials when I got them); 20 of 1/4 oz or less, including samplers and decants. Gaahhh! Way more than I thought. I limit myself to what can fit in my top dresser drawer (that drawer can apparently hold a lot!). I was going to say that I am trying to whittle my collection down (really really), but then I thought about the 5 perfumes I am jonesing for right now…I’m SURE I have room for them. And then there’s that shoebox full of 1 ml sample vials….

    1. Awww, I say that below 1 oz doesn’t count unless they’re parfum! My samples currently live in a shoebox too, but they’ll be getting an upgrade soon… the very talented Meg of Parfumieren is painting me a box!

  8. Just counted: 22. Not sure about samples. That’d take way more time, but now I’m very curious. I’m manage to keep all of my perfumes on the top shelf of my IKEA closet thing. For as new as I am to the perfume game, I’d say my little collection if perfectly respectable. I can see me being happy with something about 50-75. It’s difficult though, with the exception of Lush perfumes (How do I not own a bottle of Breath of God yet?) everything I want is on the pircey side. Right now the “cheapest” thing I’m lusting over is Bronze Goddess, next is a Diptyque, then at the top is Olivier Durbano’s Jade. I think that’s $220…or more. BUT anniversary and birthay are a mere 4 and 5 months away!

    I’ll try and count my samples tonight.

    1. I want Bronze Goddess, too!

      Like many others, I have a long list of stuff I’d like to buy right now: PdN Eau d’Ete, Bronze Goddess pb, OJ Woman Travel spray. My collection never feels quite “finished”.

      I’ll count when I get home!

      1. No, the collection is never finished, and that’s the joy of it! There’s always some vintage treasure waiting for you to find it. I wouldn’t mind an OJ Woman travel spray either!

    2. 22 is definitely respectable for a new perfumista! You’re very brave to count your samples. I swear that mine are reproducing asexually. There seem to be more every time I look!

      1. I have noticed that with my samples as well. They went from one small box to a jar and now they are over flowing the jar. I swear I haven’t been ordering any, where do they come from?

  9. I have 31 but that is including perfumes from a past life (pre-perfumistahood) and well-intentioned gifts I rarely wear. Of those 31 bottles maybe 10 get solid action, so I envision myself neatly editing my collection down and then building it up with a few lusted after bottles for a total of 15ish. Hey! It COULD happen.

    Like others, I am embarassed and sort of baffled by the stagnency of my perfume bottles. I wear quite a bit of perfume almost every day but I rarely see movement in the contents of my bottles. I was amazed when my sister recently fell in love with fig tea and bought a bottle about a month ago-it’s already nearly half gone! I guess that’s what happens when you wear one perfume.

    1. I am in awe of your sister! Fig Tea is PdN, right? I remember Tania Sanchez calling it disgusting in the Guide, but I thought it was a perfectly nice perfume. It was light, though, which would certainly make it easier to go through quickly.

  10. Timely question, Ari, as just yesterday I made up spreadsheets of my full bottles, and decants and minis – I already have one of everything I’ve sampled – which also begs the question, “What is a full bottle?” I decided that for my purposes of classification, 15ml is the dividing line between bottle and mini, unless we’re talking about the parfum extrait concentration of the 5ml Musk eau Natural I won from DSH. That stuff is STRONG.

    Once my friend brings up my purchases at the end of the month, I’ll be at 23 bottles. (The last few months have been a little out of character for me, an interesting confluence of starting to blog/having an address to ship to for US purchases/joining FFF/having the finances improve. After my little flurry of buying, I feel ready to settle down again to my usual pace – OK, other than a bottle of Bronze Goddess). I also put in a big order of atomizers of varying sizes, and I’m looking forward to sharing with friends, both local and online, and occasionally swapping.

    Like Michael said above in the comments, a lot of enjoyment comes out of the sampling. I’m a big believer in the word “enough,” as in, “This is good enough.” Works for perfectionism AND consumerism.

    And one thing I feel strongly about, and will state with emphasis: More bottles does not mean you love perfume more. A perfumista is about passion, not possessions.

    1. I love that you have a spreadsheet! I have all my “wants” on a spreadsheet, with priorities assigned, naturally πŸ˜‰

    2. I think that your last two paragraphs are very important, and well-stated. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of “enough”, Dionne!

      Everyone seems to be wanting a bottle of Bronze Goddess lately! I guess it must be the effect of the upcoming summer.

  11. I last counted about a year ago, I think, and it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-85. That was not counting decants, just actual bottles of any size (but not counting minis of 5 ml or less, which are basically samples!), both mine and my boyfriend’s (I bought all of those anyway, and also wear them). I assumed I was up near 100 by now, but from a quick count it looks like I’m in the same ballpark. Amazingly I may have swapped, sold, or given away as many bottles as I’ve obtained in the past year. In any case, this number doesn’t distress me in the least. It’s all contained in a big etagere in my closet, with some spillover on dresser-tops.

    1. Well done Elisa! Thank you for chiming in and not making me feel like a freak.

      It may be that “the right size” is the size at which you achieve equilibrium, where you find yourself getting rid of bottles about as fast as you acquire them.

    2. Very nicely done on balancing out! Do you end up wearing your boyfriend’s fragrances more than he does, too? If I wanted an Atelier Cologne for myself, I would have bought it for myself! *grumble grumble*

  12. Well, the number is around 25, depending on how I count, and quite a few samples. It’s a bit of a relief to learn that there are others with even bigger collections!
    What distresses me a bit is the fact

    1. Sorry, Ipad mishap!
      What distresses me a bit are the bottles bought early on before I became more seasoned perfumista, often bought on impuls while travelling. If I just could rid myself of those somehow and then only add carefully selected bottles I wouldn’t mind if the number was dubbled!

    2. Hold onto those bottles until the December holidays, Eva! I’m hoping to have another Smell Good, Do Good fundraiser (maybe for the Sloth Sanctuary this time?)

  13. I’ve never counted my collection. Not sure I want to. I’ve been enjoying sampling and buying decants, but feel like I’m starting to get burned out. I keep trying new things, but seem to be disappointed quite often. I spent 9 days in Paris and only came home with one new bottle of perfume. Although, I must admit I had started to lust over one of the JAR perfumes I had tried. But alas, at those prices, my husband quickly put the brakes on returning to the store to purchase. I couldn’t even convince him that it would make a wonderful Mother’s Day present.

    1. I can definitely understand your feelings of getting burnt out, Tatiana. So much smells the same these days, it’s hard to get excited about trying new perfumes when you know that they’re probably going to be just like 100 perfumes you’ve already tried. I think that it’s not a coincidence that the one perfume you did get excited about was a JAR- I’ve never smelled anything like the JAR line. Which one was it, by the way?

  14. I’m not sure of my full bottle count, but guessing around 30-40. A good chunk of that is stuff I got for free when I was working fragrance retail and don’t love. I’ve siphoned off a few of those bottles but I really should try to re-home more of them soon. But, I also keep expanding my collection, but my focus is on smaller sizes – no more than 50 mL, hopefully.

    I love your perfume minifridge in its glowy goodness. Mine just sit unboxed on my dresser, which is probably not good for them, but I love being able to see them.

    1. Thank you, Susan! I love seeing my perfumes too, so I’m very glad for that light inside the mini-fridge.

      I prefer small sizes of perfumes too, and have been pretty agitated by having to buy TWO 100 ml bottles recently, thanks to L’Artisan’s incomprehensible decision to discontinue most of their 50 ml sizes.

  15. i keep my collection at 12 or under right now. 1 for each month of the year. I probably go through about 1 bottle a month as well, so it works out just right.

  16. The exact number of bottles in my collection stays between me and my walk-in closet (it’s high time I re-organized my FB storage!) but just to keep the conversation, it’s more than 50. I plan to keep growing it (it’s a collection, after all!) but I’ll try to do it carefully: there are a lot of perfumes for which I do not need a bottle – in terms of either amount of the juice or container itself; rarely I love the perfume or the bottle so much that I want to own an original bottle.
    Also I want to mention that Birgit’s collection (she had a series of posts about it not that long ago) is an inspiration to me.

    1. Yes, Birgit’s collection is indeed an inspiration!

      I am certainly acquiring bottles more carefully, and more scents are coming as samples and decants. Otherwise it’s madness.

      I have a walk-in closet, but it’s full of other things (it’s a relatively small place with a relatively high number of people, though that’s variable). I would loooooooove to have it for just my perfume. Though I would have to do something to cool it; it gets too hot in the summers.

      1. I have to clarify πŸ™‚ : I share my walk-in closet with my vSO (almost 50/50, though I invade his space a little bit) and perfumes just took over drawers and started spilling over some shelves… I definitely need to re-organize them! πŸ™‚ Luckily for me our bedroom is one of the coolest places in the house, so other than keeping blinds closed during summer my perfume collection doesn’t require additional temperature control.

  17. I am lusting after your mini fridge WITH A LIGHT. But if I put my perfumes in there my partner could see how they are proliferating. I think my collection is around 35 but there is only a couple of duds in there. My downfall are cheap 60% off fragrance deals of something that is discontinued and has good reviews as I just have to have it in case it disappears forever. They are always unsniffed as I all can find are very common or very niche perfumes to smell and having no time to go to stores and antique shops it is really the only way I can get my perfume fix.

  18. I have 2 bottles (one I won), 2 purse sprays, and around 30 samples. Looking at building up the collection–I just started! : )

      1. My favorites so far are OJ Ta’if, FM Lys Mediterranee, and SL A la Nuit (also OJ Frangipani, but that’s what I have a FB of). I would definitely be interested in hearing what you are looking to find new homes for!

  19. I never counted before – but I have 67 bottles and about 100 samples. Uh oh. It’s worse than I thought.

  20. Putting my hand up to say that I am that soldier of the two fridge owner! I wish I could get Charlie Bonkers to pose so prettily on top of them, mind. I am guessing that because I have expanded into two fridges my collection must be twice the size of yours at around the 60 mark. It has topped 70 in the past but I have given and swapped a few away. I haven’t felt like counting them lately though…which tells you that I feel I have too many. Yup, I definitely do.

  21. Oh my, this is not good. Just looked at my spreadsheet. 120 full bottles, including my husbands, which I wear, but not counting back-ups. Samples come in at around 250. In my defense, almost all of those full bottles are pretty inexpensive, the samples are all 1ml, and many of the samples I now have full bottles of, so that overlap should only count once, right? Thinking about moving the unused mini-fridge out of the barn and into the bedroom loft . . .

    1. Julie, I honestly don’t think that 120 is that bad, especially since your full bottles were mostly cheap. If you bargain-shop for perfume, it’s pretty damn easy to rack up a large number!

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