It sounds easy. Head online or into a department store, dodge the assault of paid sprayers and pick out a scent that's a step up from what he's already wearing. From which point, he'll faithfully wear it both daily and in the deepest gratitude. Guess again right? Who hasn't splashed out serious dollars on an aftershave for their man only to have it sit on the shelf unloved and unused? Much like him until you came along. The reality of the fact is that buying scent for a man is the equivalent of him buying lingerie for you. A lot can go wrong. That said, if you get it right, you'll both enjoy the result. Here's how to boost your chances of success.

1. Get snooping

How to (successfully) buy your man fragrance

Be guided by what's already in his bathroom cupboard. But don't just look at the scents he's amassed - these could just be unwanted gifts - hold the bottles up to the light and take note of those he's actually used. Then have a spray and inhale deeply. What are the predominant notes? Are they citrusy? Woodsy? Spicy? This will provide an insight into the category he gravitates to - perhaps him without knowing it. Now you can take things up a notch in terms of luxe. Say it's spicy, check out Penhaligon's Roaring Radcliff EDP, $369, libertineparfumerie.com.au.

2. Play the categories

How to (successfully) buy your man fragrance

Often, the best clues will be found on the labels of the scents he already uses. Not saying you simply have to duplicate. Where's the fun or imagination in that? Rather, use the clues provided and scan for repeating words across brands. One of the biggest trends in men's scents in years has been oud, which is the aromatic, almost incensish resin of the agarwood tree. Should this word pop up on any packaging in his bathroom, you've got yourself a jumping off point. Use it to explore some options he may not have thought of and new offerings in an area in which he's clearly got some interest. Try Atkinsons His Majesty The Oud EDP, $305, davidjones.com.au

 

3. Looks count

How to (successfully) buy your man fragrance

It should come as no surprise that males are highly visual creatures - that's why we like to keep the lights on. This extends to the bathroom and the scents we wear not only have to smell good but they need to look smart and striking - read: not too feminine - on the bathroom cabinet. Aside from making drop-dead gorgeous fragrances, the By Kilian range's glossy black glass and silver accents bring sophistication to any space. We like the Black Phantom variety from Libertine Parfumerie. And at $531, it should look as good as it does. If that's a little steep, check out the monochromatic cool of the V76 by Vaughn EDT, $85, v76.com.

4. Wardrobe watch

How to (successfully) buy your man fragrance

Granted, a bit more sneaking around is involved but it will pay dividends. This time, however, it's the closet that's involved. Specifically what's hanging in there as opposed to the skeletons. Look to the clothing labels he gravitates to and see if they have scent offerings. Everyone from Abercrombie & Fitch and Diesel to Gucci and Tom Ford have olfactory range. It's not guaranteed but there's some likelihood he'll identify. If, for example, he's a fan of all things pony, try the new Polo Red Extreme EDT, $149, myer.com.au.

How to (successfully) buy your man fragrance