The Perfume That Smells Like Sweet Success

Certain beauty products — think NARS blush in Orgasm, Clinique's Black Honey lipstick — are so good, they're practically famous. And, while we do love so many of those well-known, well-loved products with a loyal following, we've been wondering why others have been quietly flying under the radar. With that in mind, meet our new beauty series, Cult Classics, in which we'll introduce you to the products you really, truly should know about (and try, like, right now). They're not brand new, but trust us: They've got staying power.
I wouldn't say that I have the most sensitive nose in the world, but I can pretty much guarantee that I won't be a fan of most "mass" fragrances. Many of the more popular perfumes out there tend to be too strong, too sweet, or too...unnatural to really strike my fancy. Even fragrances that I like at first sniff tend to lose my affection after I wear the stuff for about an hour. Turns out, there's a huge difference between a smell that's nice after one whiff, and one that you actually want to be inhaling for the better part of a day. So, to all of those perfumers out there: You have your work cut out for you, and I have major respect for those who get it right.
So, needless to say, I wasn't necessarily expecting to fall in love with Estée Lauder's Modern Muse scent. Sure, the bottle looked nice, but it still looked like a "serious perfume" for serious perfume lovers — not necessarily the right pick for someone who prefers the scent of fresh laundry and cucumbers over all of that gourmand-oriental business. But, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this jasmine-packed pick. It's fresh and clean with a tiny bit of spicy woodiness to cut any potential girliness, yet enough of a floral presence to make it undoubtedly feminine. For some reason, it strikes me as the perfect "working girl" fragrance, and I've found myself spritzing it on on days when I really need to get into take-no-prisoners mode at the office.
And, you know those perfumes that chicks dig, but men secretly hate? Yeah, I'm proud to report that this isn't one of them. So, if you want to feel like the most attractive and intelligent girl in the room, I've found your juice.
Estée Lauder Modern Muse Perfume, $98, available at Bloomingdale's.

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