Gifting fragrance can be a tricky game. You certainly hope the giftee — whether it’s your father, brother, partner, or friend — will love the cologne enough to wear it. (And not only because he loves you enough to wear it.) Scent preferences, which are tied to memory, can be highly personal. For this reason, the best men’s colognes for gifting are universally appealing but also unique. You’d also be wise to select a scent with a description that makes you think of the giftee you have in mind.
Just as when you wear a fragrance you picked out for yourself, you want the recipient to get those out-of-the-blue comments: “That is one of the best colognes I have ever smelled!” or “Excuse me, which fragrance is that? It’s incredible!” Few interjections from friends feel as good as those unexpected compliments from passersby.
Givenchy’s Gentleman Eau de Parfum balances woody and spicy notes with floral ones to form a sophisticated and nuanced scent perfect for the office or romantic nights out.
Givenchy Fragrances & Beauty
The following scents are among the very best fragrances for men. Each one has its own personality, while remaining universal enough to elicit those mood-boosting compliments from perfect strangers. These colognes have the complexity to pair with any personality, and you can buy one, scent-unsmelled, with the confidence that he’s going to love it.
A quick note on the difference between eau de parfums (EdP) and eau de toilettes (EdT). An EdP is typically more expensive than an EdT because it contains a higher concentration of perfume oils — which means they usually project their scent longer or louder. But that says nothing of quality, because it’s all a matter of preference. You’ll see both EdPs and EdTs in this list — plus one lighter grade yet, for fans of simplicity and subtlety.
Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio Eau de Toilette (3.4 oz.)
Acqua di Gio has 2+ decades of momentum as a men’s favorite, and at an accessible price, too. It perfectly juggles marine notes with a mélange of citrus zeal. Together they transport anyone landlocked out to sea, embodying a day on the sailboat or cruising down the Mediterranean coast. It has stood the test of time, and you can’t say anything better than that about a scent. It’s a classic to this day.
Givenchy Gentleman Eau de Parfum (3.4 oz.)
Among Givenchy’s various Gentleman scents, this EdP release is perhaps the best. It balances woody and spicy notes with floral ones — namely the profundity of patchouli, balsam and pepper, softened with lavender and orris. But it’s the inclusion of vanilla husk that really soothes the senses here. This is a nuanced and sophisticated scent, equally ideal for the office, or at a romantic night out.
Diptyque Philosykos Eau de Toilette (3.4 oz.)
Philosykos hits the senses like a fresh sea breeze floating through the mossy, verdant shore. Its makers wanted to bottle up the scent of Grecian summer, rounded out with the sweetness of fig trees. Thus, its notes all center on the fig fruit, tree and leaf, with a coconut current carrying through. This one is a playful but approachable pick, for the guy who radiates relaxed Saturdays-in-summer energy each day of the year.
Yves Saint Laurent Y Eau Fraiche (3.4 oz.)
Y is neither an EdP nor an EdT. It’s an Eau Fraiche, which is one of the lightest blends you can buy. (Made with 1-3% of perfume oils versus EdT’s 5-15% and EdP’s 15-20%.) So, it’s super subtle, and it casts a small radius for just a couple hours. And for many guys, that’s exactly what they want to make a good impression for work meetings, interviews, dates or more. And while its recipe may be light on punch, Y still focuses on quality to cover the bases. It is crisp and aromatic, with lemon and geranium, but has a cedarwood foundation to to give it force in bite-sized, barely-there doses.
Maison Margiela REPLICA Under the Lemon Trees Eau de Toilette (3.4 oz.)
Maison Margiela’s summer-ready cocktail muddles lime with cardamom, coriander, sweet petitgrain, cedarwood, musk and green tea. It has a crisp finish and simmers like a long day in the park (or like an afternoon in the Italian countryside, as was the inspiration for the scent). It’s a terrific His-and-Hers option, for the couple that enjoys sharing a subtle unisex scent. After all, a scent this alluring is bound to rub off on your partner; why not both wear it?
Calvin Klein Ck One Eau de Toilette (6.7 oz.)
While Ck One may not be the most unique choice, given its worldwide adoration, it is a scent that nearly everyone would happily wear. It’s been a staple for 26+ years, but as its mid-level EdT competition has spiked in the past decade (with powerful scents like Chanel Bleu in 2010 or Dior Sauvage in 2015), fewer men are wearing Ck One. This is a good thing for anyone looking to wear it as a signature. Ck One is a rapturous blend of crisp, woody, musky, floral, sweet, spicy and green notes — a combination so balanced that it’s perfect year round, any time of day. Plus, it is equally alluring on women as it is men.
Ermenegildo Zegna Florentine Iris Eau de Toilette (3.4 oz.)
We’d all be so lucky as to wear the floral-powdery power that is Zegna Florentine Iris. It combines three types of iris notes, along with jasmine, violet and musk, for a subtle EdT that manages to last the entire day. It has the essence of a fresh-pressed shirt, or clean laundry, but in an elevated way, of course. (Otherwise we’d just tell you to wear a fabric softener sheet in your shirt pocket and call it a day.) And despite all those floral notes, it is indistinguishably a strong, musky scent. Zegna rarely misses the mark in fragrance, and this is perhaps the best of its reliably high standards.
Louis Vuitton Sun Song Eau de Parfum (3.4 oz.)
If you have the change for it, then buy all four of Louis Vuitton’s unisex Les Colognes scents: Sun Song, Afternoon Swim, Cactus Garden and California Dream. They so perfectly bottle the optimism of summer, and long days by the pool or at the coast. But if you only buy one, make it the bright and buoyant Sun Song. It was created to embody the warmth of the sun on the skin, with a trio of key ingredients (citron, orange blossom and musk) that give it a perennial play — so that the optimism of summer follows its wearer each and every day.
Byredo Sunday Cologne Eau de Parfum (3.4 oz.)
Despite its name, Sunday Cologne is a great everyday scent. Yes, it has relaxing weekend energy thanks to spicy, woody and earthy notes (star anise, cardamom, incense, vetiver and patchouli). But it prevents any Sunday scaries with the countering fresh and floral notes (lavender and geranium). Together, this rounded recipe helps the wearer sail through through the workweek. Just like a summer scent conjures optimism in winter, so too does a weekend scent give warmth on weekdays.
Arquiste Parfumeur Misfit Eau de Parfum (3.4 oz.)
Misfit fancies itself an outsider, given its celebration of the oft-under-appreciated patchouli. But funny enough, Misfit is one of the surest scents to turn heads and prompt positive questions, and all thanks to that soulful, inimitable patchouli. This is, all at once, the safest online purchase and one of the more unique picks. Misfit wraps you like cashmere with notes of amber, lavender, tonka bean and balsam wood — all spinning around that bohemian patchouli core.