The 10 Best Colognes for Men to Wear on Date Night, at the Office and Everywhere in Between

They say it takes 10,000 hours of focused practice to master any skill. And when it comes to recommending fragrances to people, we hope that having sniffed a good 10,000 of these makes us somewhat of an authority on the topic. Prescribing a cologne to any one person comes with a lot of risks, starting with the investment in the product itself (upwards of $200 or even $600)—not to mention the fact that this scent needs to impress its intended audience (like a room full of colleagues, a spouse on the daily, or a first-impressions dinner date). And it also has to suit the demand of the buyer, depending on whether it’s going to be used as a signature scent, a seasonal pick, or an occasion-based fragrance. There is a lot riding on this purchase, and no two people have the same variables in play. Thus, in making recommendations for the best cologne for men, we’ve got to really showcase the most universal favorites based on specific scenarios and needs. So, let’s do exactly that.

The Best Cologne for Men

Best Signature Scent

Krigler Palais Monarchie 218

Krigler Palais Monarchie 218


A signature scent is something that becomes part of your personal style. It needs to suit you, but it also needs to navigate all the many facets of your personality and relationships, from work to personal, from weekday to happy hour to weekend. Now, you can of course deploy different scents for each of these scenarios, which we wholeheartedly endorse, but for the guy who wants something “close to center” for all of these things—a balancing, centering threadline, perhaps—we recommend something as layered and grounding as Krigler Palais Monarchie 218. This one is gourmand—meaning you can almost taste its flavors, like vanilla, almond, and tonka bean—while its other notes deliver a many splendored finish (spicy cinnamon, sweet pear, radiant musk, soothing patchouli, and rousing amber are just some of them). You contain multitudes, and so does this one. It transcends seasonality and occasion in that way.

Buy Now on Krigler: $725

The Best Spring Cologne for Men

Richard James Aqva Aromatica Blade of Grass

Richard James

In the spring, you want a cologne that feels like “in bloom” with the world around you. Something green that lifts the spirits—and might even do the same all winter long, reminding you of sunnier days ahead. Richard James’ brilliant Blade of Grass scent is pretty on the nose with its name: Somehow, the blend of vetiver, green tea, fig tree, and moss create the essence of a freshly mown lawn. And somehow, it feels as spellbinding as a dewy April morning.

Buy Now on Richard James: $102

The Best Summer Cologne for Men

Etat Libre d’Orange Exit The King

Etat Libre d’Orange

We all lighten up in summer, and your scent should be something akin to that “Summer Fridays” feeling. Choose something floral and green, and soapy even (yes, soapy!). We prescribe Exit the King for this season, a scent that is classifiably “chypre” or cypress-like. Yeah, it’s got moss, florals, and even soapy elements, but underneath all of that is a soothing patchouli, musky, sandalwood simmer. Perfect for a soothing summer, and the months bookending.

Buy Now on Etat Libre d’Orange: $105+

The Best Fall Cologne for Men

Le Labo Thé Matcha 26


For the fall, you want something that warms the recipient and wearer alike—an olfactive flannel shirt, let’s say—and woody scents often perform best, while also feeling appropriate for winter and spring alike. Thé Matcha is an instant classic from Le Labo, a subtle but sophisticated medley of matcha, fig, cedar, bitter orange, and vetiver.

Buy Now on Nordstrom: $90+

The Best Winter Cologne for Men

Arquiste Indigo Smoke


The best scents for winter will also feel hugely misplaced any other time of year, like a turtleneck or Christmas song in June. That’s because they warm the spirits with spicy or smoky notes, and for that feel heavy on the senses. Take the exquisite Indigo Smoke, for example: it evokes the tradition of burning tea leaves in ancient China, with notes of black tea, incense, pine tar, and guaiac wood. The result is hypnotic, and something that will feel instantly polarizing come April—but we say that as a good thing. 

Buy Now on Arquiste: $205

The Best Cologne for Professional Offices

Dior Sauvage Elixir


Depending on your office—or your specific role in the office—you might need something that feels buttoned up and somewhat “alpha” or “C-level”. Still, you don’t want to intimidate with your fragrance (we’re not lions, people), so choose something that feels commanding but uplifting at the same time. Funny enough, these scents sometimes break seasonal conventions and, regardless of when you wear them, would otherwise be classified as fall or winter scents—or even evening ones (while lacking the sensuality of a date-night scent, of course). Choose something like Dior’s Sauvage Elixir, a highly concentrated spin on their signature scent, which casts a spice-tinged radius of cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and licorice. It gets gravity from vetiver, amber, and patchouli, but owes its approachability to refreshing lavender and crisp grapefruit. 

Buy Now on Sephora: $165

The Best Cologne for Creative Professionals

Costume National Scent Intense

Lucky Scent

A casual workplace or mid/entry-ranking employee also wants to cast a confident aura, but probably something slightly more playful than the top boss. Choose a shoulder-season scent that relies on ambrous and woody notes like Scent Intense from Costume National. It isn’t totally broody, though, as it’s lightened by springy hibiscus and aromatic tea leaves. This charismatic cologne is a conversation starter in and of itself (for the right reasons) and will have colleagues eager to sit beside you in meetings (so, be warned, you might have to endure more meetings). 

Buy Now on Lucky Scent: $165

Best for Weekends

Parfums de Marly Galloway


If you have a workplace cologne, then it suggests the existence of a weekend cologne—one you embrace from Friday night through Sunday sundown. So, choose a scent that pairs perfectly with the lack of screentime, bureaucracy, and stress. We prescribe Galloway from Parfums de Marly for this, thanks to a powdery-fresh iris-musk mix that opens with a spicy-crisp squeeze of citrus and pepper. It feels classic and timeless, like those weekend memories you’ll make. Nothing autopilot or “9-to-5” with this one.

Buy Now on Nordstrom: $235

Best for Date Night

Amouage Opus VII Reckless Leather

Neiman Marcus

Be it a blind date, first impression, or eternal flame, you want to project a confident, rapturous radius on date night. It sets the mood, much like a candlelit dinner or a John Legend soundtrack. So pick a scent with intoxifying notes like leather, smoke, spice, or amber—much like a winter scent, but with a definitively intimate lean. Allow us to strip down a class act like Amouage’s Opus VII Reckless Leather: This is sex in a bottle. Whether you feel confident and cool going into date night, or if you need a little extra something, well, it’s all in this leathery, resinous, spiced-up potion.

Buy Now on Neiman Marcus: $360

Best for Black-Tie

Gucci The Alchemist’s Garden A Gloaming Night


Your Black Tie scent is the real top-shelf juice. It’s less sensual than a date-night pick, but as sexy as any cleaned-up gentleman ought to be. Gucci’s A Gloaming Night will turn heads in a variety of occasions (and is a worthy fall-to-spring pick, if you wear the fanciest pants in your workplace). But when unleashed at a wedding, gala, or fundraiser, this patchouli-vetiver-cinnamon scent is the Dom Pérignon of the olfactive game.

Buy Now on Nordstrom: $352

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