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How to Choose a Cologne for Men

Whether it’s for your everyday get-up or to pair with a brand new bespoke suit, having a go-to cologne is key for the modern man.

Here’s the thing: You’ve got a ton of options. It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to colognes or an aficionado trying something new—it’s easy to get decision paralysis. 

To get you on track, here are our tips on how to choose a cologne.

Understand How the Notes Work

Cologne notes make up the overall scent of a cologne. Consider them the “lifecycle” of the cologne after application. 

There are three notes:

  1. Top notes
  2. Middle notes (or heart notes)
  3. Base notes

The top notes are the scents you’ll smell immediately after spraying a cologne. They tend to be lighter and fresher scents, such as citrus or floral. Top notes last anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours before fading.

Middle notes, or heart notes, are the core of the cologne, holding their scent for anywhere from three to five hours. Common middle notes include spices such as cinnamon or clove, and some fruity scents can also show up in the middle note. 

Base notes tend to be the boldest of the cologne. They’re usually tame at first but become more noticeable as the day progresses. The base note can last anywhere from 5 to 10 hours, depending on the cologne. Base notes are where you’ll find heavier scents, such as sandalwood, moss, leather, smoke, and more. 

It’s important to understand how cologne notes work since what you smell first might not be what you’ll smell later on in the day. 

Know Which Scents are Best For Each Season 

Choosing colognes based on seasonality is a great way to decide which one is right for you. 

Some colognes work well year-round or even for a couple of seasons (floral scents, for example, are appropriate for summer and spring). However, in most cases, you’ll want a signature scent for each time of the year. 

Yes, that would mean that you’ll want to purchase four different colognes. It also means that you’ll be using less of each one instead of going through a single bottle quickly.

Here’s a table with each season and the scents that work best to make it easier for you.


Best Scents


Floral, greens, citrus, grass


Aquatics, florals, citrus, mint, sea air


Sandalwood, patchouli, amber, oakmoss, vanilla


Leather, spice, vanilla, cinnamon

These scent families are just suggestions to get you started. There’s nothing wrong with wearing your favorite cologne year-round, but choosing a scent based on seasonality is a great way to narrow your choices down and play to the mood of the weather. 

Consider Your Environment

The changing seasons aren’t the only reason to have more than one cologne on the go. You’ll need to consider your overall environment and where you’ll be wearing the cologne the most.

Like it or not, the people around you will be quick to associate your scent with you. This makes it important to choose the right cologne for each occasion.

If you’re at the office, a stronger, overpowering cologne isn’t the right play. Lighter notes, such as citrus or greens, will always be more appealing when you’ve got coworkers all around you. 

Joseph Abboud’s Modern Gentleman Cologne is a great choice for an everyday office cologne, with top notes of citrus peel and pear leading the way. 

Joseph Abboud’s Modern Gentleman Cologne

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A night out with some friends is the place where you can be more flexible with your scents. Here, stronger scents, such as Joseph Abboud’s Dark Woods cologne, are more applicable. 

​​Joseph Abboud’s Dark Woods cologne

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Be mindful of those around you when choosing your cologne, and figure out where you’ll be wearing that cologne the most.

Ask Around 

Have you ever encountered another man wearing a cologne that you like? 

Don’t be afraid to ask them what scent they’re wearing!

If you’re purchasing a cologne for the first time, or if you’re just looking for a new scent, one of the best ways is to consult others who love colognes as well. You can draw inspiration from others and make it easier for yourself to choose your new cologne.

You also have the internet at your disposal. The web is filled with men’s lifestyle communities devoted to talking about colognes where you can ask which scent would suit you best. Reviews can help too!

Sample Your colognes

You’ll never know unless you try, right? 

Not every retailer has cologne samples at their disposal. However, many stores have small samplers for different colognes, allowing you to try before you buy. 

For online shoppers, there are even some sampling subscription services that you can use to find your new favorite cologne. 

Don’t be afraid to give a cologne a try before making a purchase. You want to make sure that you’re getting the right one. 

Looking For The Perfect Men’s cologne? 

If you’re wondering how to choose a cologne, we can make it easier for you. Joseph Abboud has a wide selection of colognes for any occasion, season, and preference. 

Check out our collection today!

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