Tacky Perfumes

Underneath all of my various fancy perfumes, I am a deeply tacky person. Nothing is too lowbrow to entertain me. I love trashy reality TV and cheap Chardonnay and stupid hair colors. I love shit-stirrers and short skirts and loud parties with terrible music. Listen, I would straight up take a bullet for Snooki. (At the very least, a rubber bullet.)

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with tasteful. I respect tasteful. But tasteful is just not very fun. Fun is so important, you guys. I know that’s kind of a weird thing to say, but I was entirely too quiet and serious as a kid and it took me quite a few years to understand how valuable fun really is. It can be so powerful to embrace the things that give you joy, no matter how silly or embarrassing they might seem to others. Snobbery, whether about perfume, language, or interests, is tedious and so, so pointless.

You know where this post is going: tacky perfumes! Let’s dish about our trashy favorites. “Trashy perfume” could mean any number of things, of course. It could be a perfume from a “trashy” brand (something cheap, or perhaps a celebrity perfume); it could be a perfume that “smells trashy” (I’ll leave that one open to interpretation!) I’ll start by sharing some of mine. The concept behind Etat Libre d’Orange Vraie Blonde (“real blonde”) is sooo tacky- it’s basically one big “do the curtains match the drapes?” gag- but this rich, fruity chypre is no joke. As for cheap thrills, Lush’s Gorilla Perfume line makes consistently interesting scents for criminally cheap prices.

29 thoughts on “Tacky Perfumes

  1. By definition I love tacky too.
    1.not tasteful or fashionable; dowdy.
    2.shabby in appearance; shoddy: a tacky, jerry-built housing development.
    3.crass; cheaply vulgar; tasteless; crude.
    4.gaudy; flashy; showy.
    How could I not? SERIOUSLY? If there was a picture you’d see ME! I love the Gorilla by LUSH series, excess is tacky (love it), big florals are tacky (love them), basically if I like it, it’s probably tacky.
    You are a self proclaimed nerd, I am that for tacky. Except the dowdy bit, um, AS IF
    Portia xx

  2. Another tacky lover chiming in! Tacky is fun. The pink flamingos in my yard are fun. Too much tacky can cross into the tasteless and vulgar category but a little dose of it here and there is okay by me. ELDO is a great line for tacky named perfumes.

    1. As the legendary Diana Vreeland said, “A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika!” My family has always had pink flamingos in our yard too, being Baltimore folk.

  3. Ari, you’re the fuckin boss! I feel very identified with most of your post. Only I’m afraid that I just feel a deep-seated and -IMO, necessarily- snob contempt for trashy reality TV and spanish soccer ultra obsession -u know we call it football-, because those things are really harmful and a bullshit, and that’s my eternal concern with human race existential considerations, I mean about evolution and so on (I hope it doesn’t sound as snob as it looks haha!). But when it comes to most things, including perfume, I’m with you. I love joking, teasing, sometimes acting like a hooligan and showing my most fun side without any complexes. I’m a rocker, of course, and I mean in a rollingstonian sense. Most of my music idols were typically ‘bad guys/girls’, so controversial, taboo-breakers and dabblers, with a compulsion to flout moral codes, and I generally enjoy when someone (whether women or men) curse, or when someone makes a provocative statement!
    I think that’s the reason why ‘tacky’ perfumes usually are related to celebrities, especially to ‘celebrity perfumes’. Because most celebrities are perceived ‘tacky’ somehow, due to their public statements, which may be more or less provocative, but always in the spotlight.

    Some of top favorite perfumes in my life – which are considered smelling cheap and tacky by the community – has been Cacharel LouLou, JPG Classique or Gucci Rush (the last tacky ‘disco dancing’, smelling of drugstore I’ve recently smelled is Gucci Première, although I don’t think it will be a favorite), and for instance, I love the playful and familiar scent of The Holy Play-Doh, so much maligned by hundreds of perfumistas! So you can see that I’m more on the tacky perfumes side than in the refined-ladylike ones, which I find them boooooooooooring. On the other hand, there is no question in my mind that in the way that artists are born, not made, I believe ‘class’ and ‘glamour’ is quite the same thing: born, not made. Why do people associate class and glamour with the finest education, even with some kind of high society way of life? which most of times means expensive stuff, politeness, elegance and in a way, snobbery? I’ve always convinced you can be tacky and classy/glamorous at the same time. There’s no contradiction at all. 🙂

    1. Gemma!! I’m so happy to see you back! How are you doing? How are your studies going? I love your perspective that there doesn’t have to be a contradiction between tacky and glamorous. Like you said, aren’t rockers terribly glamorous too??
      I’ve always liked JPG Classique. Now there’s a man who knows how to make a provocative statement! 😉

      1. Dear Ari, I didn’t forget you, although to be honest I read you sometimes and sometimes not … My studies went fantastic, and since I’m working in the Library I have no time for blogs! on the other hand… I’ve been out of the game because we had a misfortune in our family last march, and that’s why I was missing at first, my younger sister suffered preeclampsia in their last month of pregnancy and as a result, the baby she was carrying passed away … it was awful tragedy… Now we’re all better …

        I’m particularly happy because I’ve just started my second trimester of my own pregnancy, I got pregnant in July, and everything is going OK for now! 🙂 Let’s see, crossing fingers …
        Later on, I’m surprised to find me not particularly interested in perfumes, but they aren’t offensive to my nose, though. I still can smell them, and even enjoy them eventually… Only is that I don’t feel like it wearing them daily.

        Sorry such a ‘bittersweet’ comment. That’s life…

  4. LOL! This was a deeply entertaining post – especially that first paragraph 😉
    I have to admit – I do own tacky perfumes…. 😐

  5. Girl, I love you!

    If I’m being honest here, though, I tend to eschew the tacky. Might be a demographic thing… after all, I’m a fortyish southern woman who remembers her mother’s wearing hats to church, handbag matching the shoes. And I’m recurrently appalled at school band concerts, where multiple idiots feel it necessary to whistle and catcall as soon as the band finishes playing. I mean, here the band is up on stage in tuxedos and formal long gowns, and somebody’s going “WHOOP WHOOP” in the audience? Tacky. And wrong. It’s like nobody has any public dignity anymore. Sure, wear your sleep pants out shopping, no big deal. I did watch five minutes of “Jersey Shore” once. It baffled me, in the sense of “why is this on television? this is a joke, right?”


    To my mind there’s a lot of difference between “tacky” and “flamboyant.” Flamboyant is acceptable, as it is a stylish, deliberate choice, carrying the elements of fun and color and joy. Flamboyant is Dolly Parton. Flamboyant is Sofia Vergara. Or Amy Poehler’s wearing an enormous fake blue stone ring from her kid’s toy box to the Emmys along with her black beaded designer gown. Flamboyant is fab. And it’s not my personal style, but I appreciate it on other people.

    Nicki Minaj? Tacky. Sorry, but I want absolutely nothing to do with her at any time. Ever. Tacky is Pamela Anderson, and it is saaaaaaad. If flamboyant is about joy and about being yourself, tacky is about wanting attention from other people. Maybe I’ve just got terminology issues, and your tacky is my flamboyant?

    That said, probably the trashiest thing I own is That Slut Tocade. Or possibly my newest ebay score, a vintage 1oz bottle of Poison. Trashiest bottle I own is, hands down, that purse bottle of Ulric Varens pour Elle, silvered plastic and pink juice and all. Of course, what’s IN the tacky bottle is a discount version of Iris Poudre, with less angora and more hairspray.

    Whew. Now that I have come off as the slitty-eyed frigid spinster librarian, I have to say I have had a lot of fun being my curmudgeonly anti-tacky self today…

    1. As long as you’re having fun, Mals, that’s all that matters! 😀
      I agree with and adore every example you gave of flamboyance. I hadn’t heard that story about Amy Poehler- that’s freaking adorable. I am sadder about her divorce than anyone who is not related to her reasonably should be.
      I can’t wait to read your review of Poison!! The modern version is already so audacious, I can’t even imagine it in the vintage!

  6. I don’t believe any of my perfumes are tacky. As a cleavage rockin’, bottled blonde who loves big white florals and all things skanky in perfume, perhaps my opinion cannot be trusted. Lol!

  7. Once again I find myself agreeing with Mals – maybe it’s our age? I am right there with you on agreeing on the importance of fun. My fun tends to be the geeky kind: going to Comic-Con, laughing my face off reading Terry Pratchett, watching the reaction of my husband when the Wild Things and I show him the Gangnam Style video… that sort of thing. Last night my family had a wow-we-actually-paid-a-photographer photo shoot, and we kept cracking up over muttered pop culture references (“stay on target” “you broke my smoulder” “walk in slow motion so you still look awesome..”).

    For me, tacky is about horrible manners. Like playing loud music at a public campsite at 11:00 at night, or not bothering to stand up at the school’s pancake breakfast when the national anthem is playing, or talking loudly on your cell phone at a restaurant. Tacky. However, I am fun with garish, trashy or loud, so go figure. My most garish fragrance? Probably Queen by Queen Latifah. The fragrance itself is wonderfully snuggly, but that bottle is so over the top I just grin at it.

  8. Ah….interesting subject – taste genres. Raises a lot of questions. Is tasteful without humour? Is tasteful always performed with prim posture and without laughter? Is tacky so very, very fun as long as it is tacky? What to make out of those instances when tacky is performed by someone considered tasteful, using tacky as an argument to sell, for example? Still funny, still tacky? Tacky displayed with outmost dignity, is it tacky? Dignified tackiness – great taste genre.

    WTF is tacky, really?

    And Portia – you are miles from ever being tacky. You are, truly, very stylish and utterly lovely. These traits can never be tacky.

  9. My first thought when I saw this Nicki perfume some weeks ago was, is the cap her wig or her whole head? If it’s her wig, there is something so funny and tacky about either of those possibilities. 🙂 I wore the original Betsey Johnson perfume at one time, and people would say the cap was tacky. Ehhh, I bought it on sale and because I liked it.

  10. My friends hate my taste in TV and movies for two reasons:

    1. Because I have spent so many years reading Roland Barthes and Gilles Deleuze, when I do watch TV or movies, I want the most low-brow of the absolute bottom low-brow. Give me any city full of Desperate Housewives — the more broke and the more married to NFL players the better. I want all the cycles of America’s Next Top Model, and I will ‘fess up to being the world’s biggest Bachelor and Bachelorette fan. And don’t even get me to leave my apartment when Idol is on (yes, I call it Idol).

    2. When I do watch something high-brow, my tastes run the tippy top of the most pretentious Swedish, b/w, auteur, high-brow, full of miserable people, little dialogue or music, and bizarre camera angles.

    Basically both are unwatchable. And my friends hate them.

    I wish I had a trashy fragrance to go with either 😦 SJP’s Lovely? Which isn’t very trashy, I know!

  11. My favorite tacky perfume would have to be “Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion For Men”…. It is over the top, flashy, trashy and cheap glamour in a purple bottle. I spay it on my stale Italian potpourri to freshen it up.

  12. I love this topic! I have to think about this one. I can’t really carry off tacky or trashy, but I love it when I see it. (I want the J.Lo bottle that lights up now!) I own a bottle of Queen by Queen Latifah too, and I think that bottle is quite tacky; I’m trying to think of a tacky JUICE I own. It’s tough! What makes a juice tacky – or trashy, or flashy? Hmmm.

  13. I’m guessing Boudior by Vivienne Westwood would count as trashy! It smells like a slightly unwashed, very PINK bedroom. I really enjoy it.

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