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Searching for signature scent is a struggle

Everywhere you turn, there's a celebrity hawking a new fragrance, a perfume or cologne that's meant to capture their very essence in a tiny bottle.

Anyone you can think of, from Britney Spears to Jennifer Lopez to (and this one cracks me up) romance author Danielle Steele has their own line these days.

The idea, I guess, is that we regular people are supposed to pick which celebrity we identify with the most and adopt their ideal fragrance as our own.

But I'm searching for a fragrance that defines me - a scent that, even if it's just whiffed in passing on the street, reminds people of me. Not of Britney Spears.

Signature scents have an old-fashioned allure for me, probably because they make me think of my grandma, a woman who has worn Oscar by Oscar de la Renta perfumes, lotions and scented powders for as long as I can remember. In my mind, she is intrinsically tied to the floral scent, which has notes of basil, jasmine, lavender and sandalwood.

So far, though, I've had trouble narrowing down the options for my own signature scent.

I don't know about you, but I don't have an extra $100 to shell out on a bottle I think might be the one.

Women's magazines run quizzes meant to help you find that made-for-you scent. You answer questions about your ideal date, favorite place to travel and fashion sense to determine if you're more suited to floral scents or exotic ones. But I always manage to get an equal number of answers that point me to clean, simple fragrances and complicated, earthy scents.

During trips to the mall, I always stop by the cosmetics counter to spray my wrist with a perfume I've been meaning to check out. That method is fairly fruitless, though, because you can only try one scent each trip.

Don't even think about relying on those sample cards the cosmetics saleswomen will push on you - perfume is a complex animal, with notes that change after a few minutes of wear and again after a few hours. Besides, the same perfume smells different on everyone after it reacts with your body's natural oils.

Sample vials are one option, but even they're not foolproof. Sometimes I'll go through a whole vial and everything's going fine, then a week later my body's chemistry suddenly and mysteriously changes, and the perfume that had smelled lovely smells cloying.

I think I'm getting closer to finding my holy grail of fragrances, though. I've been drawn to French designer Thierry Mugler's Angel during every recent trip to the cosmetics counter. The warm scent, with notes of bergamot, patchouli, chocolate and caramel, appeals to my food-loving nature.

Anytime I'm at a party or restaurant and smell someone who's wearing Angel, I immediately think, "Hey, that's my perfume!"

That has to be a good sign, right?

E-mail Shelley Mann at shelley.mann@gwinnettdailypost.com.