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Perfume is both highly personal and powerful. One whiff of a particular scent and you're instantly transported back to another time or memory. One spritz and you may feel emboldened to take on the day or reenergized for a night on the town. Each fragrance has a personal story attached to it—which is why when we were considering the best perfumes for women, we decided to go straight to the source. Here, 18 picks that garnered top notes from their wearers. 

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Nordstrom

1. Atelier Cologne Clémentine California Cologne

"I wore this on my wedding day and it never ceases to make me happy. But it’s not just the fond memories that do it for me, it’s the bright notes of clementine and vetiver that call to mind a bright summer day—even in the dead of winter. Also, as much as I love my Le Labo Santal 33, not everyone wears Atelier Cologne so it feels more distinct and unexpected."—Lex Goodman, Entertainment and News Editor 

Buy it ($78)

Nordstrom

2. Dior J'Adore Eau de Parfum

"I remember visiting my friend Kathryn years ago (very early aughts, if you must know), and she smelled absolutely divine. 'What are you wearing?,' I asked. She said J'adore, showed me the bottle, and that was it. After years of wearing all types of fragrances, I had found the one. I still wear it every day. Applying J'adore is part of my routine—the final touch before I leave my apartment. And honestly, after wearing if for so long, one of the best compliments I've ever gotten is friends saying, 'you smell like you. Scent memory is a real thing, people! (And thank you, Kathryn!)"—Lauren Gniazdowski, VP, Content Operations

Buy it ($100)

Target

3. Gardenia Palm by Good Chemistry

"I'm one of those women who always switches up her perfume, and right now, I'm loving Gardenia Palm by Good Chemistry. Yep, I found it at Target, so you know the price is good. But the true selling point for me was that it's cruelty-free—that's a must for any beauty product I've purchased in the last couple of years. I never thought of Target as a perfume destination, but I sniffed this one on a whim and the scent was so delicious that I couldn't pass it up, and boy has it delivered since. I get so many compliments on it and I find that it lasts without being overpowering. Plus, the gardenia fragrance reminds me of the ones that used to grow in my grandmother's front yard, so this perfume basically brings me joy from every angle."—Cristina Gutierrez, Senior Editor

Buy it ($25)

Acqua di Parma  Quercia Eau de Parfum
Neiman Marcus

4. Acqua di Parma, Quercia Eau de Parfum

"I smelled a sample of this perfume and had to have it. It’s, like, absurdly expensive, but in the name of self-care, I splurged on it, and have no regrets. I think it’s technically a men’s cologne (eye-roll @ gendering), but I’ve always been drawn to heavier, woodier scents as opposed to light florals. I only wear it in colder months, and only use a tiny bit, because it’s intense. Still, it makes me feel fancy and Italian and I love it."—Sarah Steifvater, Editor

Buy it ($270)

Nordstrom

5. Velvet Haze by Byredo

"I'm a sucker for Velvet Haze by Byredo. The combination of aromas like coconut and patchouli hits the sweet spot I've spent years trying to find. It leaves me feeling pretty and floral, but also a bit sexy. Plus, the bottle lasts me forever."—Corley Miller, Manager, People Operations

Buy it ($175)

Sephora

6. Ellis Brooklyn Rrose Eau de Parfum

"I was on the lookout for a clean fragrance (see ya, phthalates) I could spray on every day, and found this dreamy Ellis Brooklyn number that's perfect for daytime wear. I spritz a little on before heading out to the office, and I don't have to worry about offending my co-workers with a harsh perfume. The scent is floral with a hint of citrus, and I love that the rosy notes are fresh, not cloying."—Michaela Magliochetti, Social Editor

Buy it ($100)

Dermstore

7. Carthusia Fiori di Capri Eau de Parfum

"I walked by this perfumery while on vacation in Capri and decided to stop in on a whim. I had no plans to buy anything, but then I smelled this fragrance and was immediately hooked. Now I think of that dreamy Italian island every morning when I put it on."—Brianna Lapolla, Editor

Buy it ($80)

Nordstrom

8. Narciso Rodriguez for Her

"Narciso Rodriguez for Her is my all-time fave. The glass black bottle looks so sleek on my vanity, and a little goes a long way so it lasts forever (I've had mine over 2 years, I think, and it's still half full). Above all, though, it smells amazing, a little floral and woody with honey flower, orange blossom and musk, so it's not too girly but also sexy and warm. I can't tell you how many compliments I get on it."—Roberta Fiorito, Editor, News and Trends

Buy it ($98)

Amazon

9. Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

"I'm all in on Lovely by SJP and have been for years. It's subtle and not overpowering. I also think it just works so well with the scent of my skin and whenever I wear it, I get stopped by no less than 5 people telling me how—wait for it—lovely I smell. I've had it in my perfume rotation for 10+ years, actually, which says a lot. I first discovered it when I was living and working in Boston for my very first job and I associate it so much with that time in my life. A single spritz takes me right back and makes me feel grounded somehow and in the best possible way."—Rachel Bowie, Director, Special Projects

Buy it ($23)

Ulta

10. Chloé Eau de Parfum

"If I'm being honest, I don't have a single favorite perfume. I rotate through a select bunch based on my mood and season. Right now, though, I've been constantly spraying Chloé because it's such a pretty floral scent and it makes me happy every time I smell it. It also helps that it gets me tons of compliments. I first discovered it through a colleague because I kept smelling it on her so I finally asked her what was and it was Chloé. I got a sample from Sephora to make sure it smelled nice on me before buying it because, you know, it's always different on other people. It was most definitely love at first sniff. It's honestly such a timeless scent that's feminine and floral but not too in-your-face. I love it so much that I think it's going to be my wedding day scent!"—Rachel Gulmi, Associate Managing Editor

Buy it ($79)

Ulta

11. Burberry Brit for Her

"Without a doubt, my pick is Burberry Brit. I feel like it's a classic. My older sister used to wear it and I'd always steal it from her. One year, my mom finally got it for me for Christmas and I've had the same bottle for years. I wear it on special occasions and weekend outings."—Alyson Owens, Senior Audience Development Strategist

Buy it ($106)

Nordstrom

12. Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum

"I love Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Eau de Parfum. Funnily, I found it because my Taylor Swift perfume from high school was discontinued, so for Christmas, my roommate got me a sampler kit from Sephora and I fell in love with this one! It's such a good scent without being too sweet or floral, which I don't like."—Ali Brown, Social Media Strategist

Buy it ($74)

Nordstrom

13. Tory Burch Eau de Parfum Spray

"I struggle with migraines so finding the right perfume can be tricky since overpowering scents often trigger them. When I tested Tory Burch’s signature scent in Sephora, I knew I found a winner. It’s light and citrusy without the headache-inducing musky florals. If you wore Clinique Happy back in the day, consider this the grownup version."—Pamela Masin, Senior Audience Development Strategist

Buy it ($76)

Sephora

14. Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue Perfume

"I first discovered Dolce and Gabbana’s Light Blue perfume while sneaking into my mother’s beauty stash when I was just a kid. She’d been using it forever and I absolutely loved the way it smelled on her: kind of like home, kind of like a Mediterranean vacation. Though I now refuse to commit to one signature scent, I always reach for this lovely blue-topped bottle whenever I’m in need of a bright, citrusy pick me up (and a hug from mom)."—Catrina Yohay, Associate Managing Editor

Buy it ($102)

Nordstrom

15. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb

"Back when my friends and I were fresh out of college, we went perfume shopping after brunch one day and I that’s when I found Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb. It’s elegant and sexy and has just the right amount of spice. Whenever I spritz it now, it reminds me of my first year living in the city with my girlfriends, living paycheck to paycheck and running to Bloomingdales every other Friday. (And whether we actually admit this or not, it was just like that SATC episode)."—Vanessa Sanjuan, Account Executive, Brand Partnerships

Buy it ($55)

Sunday Forever

16. Sunday Forever Coconuts Perfume

"Sunday Forever's Coconuts perfume is so specific and lovely, every person you encounter will ask you how you smell so good and where your scent is from. Seriously. Uber drivers, bouncers, coworkers et.al. I first discovered its magic qualities from the brand's founder, Ashli Stockton, a one-woman show who has grown her business from bathroom to massive showroom in New York. I feel so proud to support women-run small businesses every time I spray it, and TBH, it smells so damn good. Every day feels a little less magical without a spritz."—Madison Russell, Style Editor, One37.pm

Buy it ($160)

Sézane

17. L'Eau Sézane

"My go-to perfume is L'Eau Sézane, which used to only be available for purchase from their Paris stores but now you can buy it from their Soho location and online. It’s light, floral, and especially perfect in the spring and summer. Also, it comes in a pretty big bottle so it lasts a long time. I always get compliments when I wear this and I love that it's not very common!"—Sheena Ortiz Berino, Director, Experiential Marketing and Events

Buy it ($90)

Credo

18. Ellis Brooklyn Rives

"I actually just discovered this perfume a few months ago and haven't stopped wearing it since. I guess I've adopted it as my new signature scent. It’s very crisp and clean from start to finish with notes of neroli and white suede. It makes me smell like I’ve just stepped out of the shower rather than a subway platform."—Jenny Jin, Senior Beauty Editor

Buy it ($100)

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