15 best classic perfumes for women

Rachel Fiddes
·9 mins read
You can't go wrong with a classic scent: Getty Images
You can't go wrong with a classic scent: Getty Images

It’s a classic Christmas gift, but where to start when looking for a fragrance to give the girl in your life? Whoever it is – your sister, wife, girlfriend or mum – you can play it safe and replace the bottle she’s running low on, or go off-piste and find her something new to love.

Here’s our rundown of our favourite fragrances – each and every one a guaranteed, fail-safe, perfect gift.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Chloe fragrances are a guaranteed safe buy as a gift for anyone. Staggeringly feminine, beautiful, yet effortless. A classic wedding choice, Chloe produces timeless fragrances.

Some 10 years ago the first Chloe scent was launched, and over the past decade has had various incarnations, always feminine, always beautiful and always using the rose as a starting point.

According to Chloe, Fleur de Parfum is a “generous bouquet exclusively composed of the most tender and quintessential part of flowers, their hearts”. The heart of the rose reveals rich fruity tones, the heart of the verbena flower adds a freshness, while the heart of the cherry blossom produces milky almond notes.

An exceptionally pretty perfume, delicate and irresistibly natural – definitely one for the girls who like a gentle feminine scent. The delicate blush pink ribbon tied around the neck of the flacon adds to the prettiness of Fleur de Parfum.

A suits-all, romantic scent, the perfect Christmas gift for someone you love.

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Narciso Rodriguez For Her EDT: £43.99 for 50ml, feelunique.com

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A designer who adores women and creates ultra-feminine clothes to flatter a woman’s body, Rodriguez bottled some of that passion and unveiled this fragrance masterpiece in 2003.

Some 15 years later we think it’s still one of the sexiest scents ever launched. Subtly sensual with a restrained opulence, this is a bewitching seductive scent, but without being rich and heady.

The perfect gift for the woman who likes her scent to be striking and formidable, but still elegant and feminine. The sparkling blend of white flowers and citrus includes bergamot, orange flower and osmanthus, which move into a musky, warm, sweet dry-down of amber, vanilla and vetiver.

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Stella McCartney Eau de Parfum: £78 for 100ml, Debenhams​

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The original Stella McCartney scent, Stella, is quintessentially English, and a homage to the English rose.

Fresh mandarin and white peony blend with the feminine sensual rose, and dry down into a more masculine, sultry amber base.

A modern floral, but with bold, sexy accents, this is a suits-all scent and perfect for winter.

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Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey EDT: £54 for 50ml, Boots

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We have a soft spot for Issey Miyake, as L’Eau D’Issey is the scent of our twenties – one spritz and we’re straight back to the heady, responsibility-free days of gritty underground clubbing in Shoreditch before it got glossy.

More than 25 years since its launch, L’Eau D’Issey is considered one of the greatest classics of the perfume world. Described as “an icon of contemporary perfumery”, this scent has barely aged at all and remains as modern today as it did at its launch. A unique and timeless scent, that suits everyone and is the ultimate romantic wedding fragrance.

The delicate and discreet blend of sensual rose, fresh watery lotus flower, sparkling lily and peony is all wrapped up in warming cedar and sandalwood. A great go-to fragrance whatever the occasion.

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L'Artisan Parfumeur Arcana Rosa: £155 for 75ml, Harrods

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Arcana Rosa is astonishingly full-bodied and powerful for a rose based scent. Where rose fragrances are usually supremely feminine, soft and pretty, this is a strong womanly scent – not for the faint hearted.

A blend of flowers, wild herbs and woods including Bulgarian rose, atlas cedar, vetiver, juniper and sandalwood, make for an almost masculine, slightly spicy floral perfume that could as easily be worn by men as women.

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NEOM Energy Burst 100% Natural Eau de Parfum: £49 for 49ml, Neom Organics

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NEOM has carved out a corner of the beauty market for therapeutic products.

Its fragrances are 100 per cent natural, from ethically sourced sustainable origins, using natural and organic ingredients. They’re made in the UK and don’t use artificial perfume or any harsh preservatives, only pure essential oils.

As soon as we took a spritz of the award-winning Energy Burst, we could tell this scent was different. It’s a zingy zesty blend of grapefruit, lemon, rosemary and 14 other essential oils, chosen to give a quick burst of energy to focus and liven up the mind. It’s not as long lasting as synthetic fragrances, so we resprayed it during the day, which proved the perfect boost for the dreaded mid-afternoon slump.

If she likes citrus-based scents, this is the one for her.

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Dolce & Gabbana The One Eau de Toilette: £46.73 for 50m, escentual.com

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A floral oriental, The One sparkles with zesty Italian bergamot and mandarin essences, and blends into the delicate sweetness of lychee and juicy white peach.

Jasmine, orange blossom and lily of the valley give it a timeless femininity, which dries down into the richness of vetiver, musk and sweet warm vanilla.

A strong, luxuriously feminine scent, this is grown-up glamour at its best.

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Clarins Eau Dynamisante Treatment Fragrance, Refillable Spray: £36 for 100ml, clarins.com

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Just over 30 years ago, Clarins launched its pioneering feel-good fragrance Eau Dynamisante.

Way ahead of its time, it was designed to invigorate the senses with a blend of 14 aromatic citrus and herbal essential oils including lemon, orange, patchouli, coriander, caraway, rosemary and thyme. It’s a skin treatment too – splash it all over from head to toe to moisturise, soften, tone and restore suppleness to the skin.

Resoundingly popular, every three minutes someone somewhere in the UK is buying a bottle. And this eco-friendly version is refillable – we wish all perfume manufacturers were as forward thinking and let us refill our bottles.

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Mon Guerlain Eau de Parfum Florale: £69.50 for 50ml, John Lewis & Partners

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With Angelina Jolie as the face of Mon Guerlain, it doesn’t take an olfactory genius to guess what this scent is going to smell like. Ultra-feminine and beautiful, but also kick-ass and ball-busting at the same time.

Not for the faint hearted, this is for the woman who wants to be noticed. It’s a bold scent some might reserve for evening wear, but the Guerlain girl will wear this in the day too.

The rich heady jasmine and sensual vanilla are tempered with delicate peony and lavender for a beautiful, quintessentially feminine floral bouquet.

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Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Cologne: £94 for 100ml, Jo Malone

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As beauty gifts go, you can't beat the thrill of opening the iconic cream and black Jo Malone box and as winter fragrances go you can’t beat Pomegranate Noir.

If you could bottle the Christmas season into a fragrance, this would be it; ruby-red juices of pomegranate, plum and raspberry, punctuated by pink pepper and laced with Casablancan lilies and spicy woods.

One of the most sultry and enigmatic fragrances we’ve ever worn.

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Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Eau de Toilette: £42.44 for 50ml, feelunique.com

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Channelling the easy charm of Marc Jacobs' original Daisy scent, Dream is youthful, spirited and romantic.

Light and airy – think blue skies and daisies – the scent blends blackberry, grapefruit and pear, with a heart of jasmine, lychee and wisteria, drying down to a warm base of white woods and musks.

An easy to give and easy to wear scent.

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Lancome La Vie Est Belle EDP: £61.20 for 50ml, escentual.com

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Worldwide, La Vie Est Belle Eau de Parfum is in the top four women's global fragrances.

An award-winning modern classic, this stunning scent blends iris, bergamot, jasmine and orange blossom for the ultimate floral bouquet.

Warming notes of tonka bean, vanilla and patchouli add depth and richness to this joyful, archetypal wedding day scent.

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Givenchy Dahlia Divin Eau de Parfum: £68.50 for 50ml, John Lewis & Partners

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Captivating, luxurious and feminine, this elegant, timeless scent hints at fresh autumnal plums, combined with a white bouquet of florals dominated by jasmine. The warm woody base of sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver, gives it a lasting richness and sensuality.

Choose Dahlia Divin for the girl who likes her scent to linger long after she's gone.

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Tiffany & Co. Eau de Parfum: £72 for 50ml, Debenhams

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This delicate scent isn’t going to knock anyone out as you walk past them, so if that’s how she likes her perfume, this one is for her.

Like Tiffany & Co. this scent has a refined timeless quality, but still retains the feel of a modern fragrance blend. The initial hit is sparkling and zesty green mandarin, which moves into a pretty, floral heart of iris and a dry-down of sensual, enchanting patchouli.

A really beautiful scent and a safe bet for a gift. The bottle is inspired by a cut diamond and, of course, it’s all wrapped up in a Tiffany Blue box – something every girl would love to see under the Christmas tree.

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Gucci Guilty Pour Femme Eau de Toilette Platinum Edition: £55 for 50ml, Boots

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Unapologetically hedonistic, Gucci's campaign slogan GuiltyNotGuilty celebrates individuality and freedom, “there's a kind of marvellous anarchy that characterises youth,” says Creative Director Alessandro Michele.

For non-conformists and anarchic libertines, this powerful blend of masculine geranium, spicy pink pepper, magical lilac, sparkling peach and warming amber and patchouli is the scent for them.

Give this fragrance to the girl who likes to break the rules.

Buy now

The Verdict: Best classic scents

NEOM’s therapeutic benefits will boost her energy levels, L’Artisan Parfumeur has a slightly masculine twist, Issey Miyake is light and fresh, while Stella McCartney and Narciso Rodriguez are full-blown striking, sexy scents.

But our IndyBest top choice is Chloe Fleur de Parfum for its all-round timeless, beautiful, irresistibly feminine blend of rose, verbena and cherry blossom.

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