Category Archives: Things

Le Labo Deux

Dear Dorigen,

So, here’s the thing, I cut ties with Neroli 36. I just fell out of love with that scent. I placed the half empty sampler on its pedestal with the other Le Labo (and Aveda) sprays and walked away. I sometimes peer at them.

I now fully embrace Fleur D’Oranger 27 and Bergamote 22, so much so that I’m usually wearing both. Bergamote is on the wrists and D’Oranger, on my neck (or basically straight up my nose and everywhere, at all times). Like, if I didn’t work remotely, HR would have written me up. Like, if I was a Peanuts character, I’d be Honey-Bee walking around in a cloud of orange blossoms and lime-oids and grass and mahogany wood blocks, probably. Like, if I was on a reality TV show, Dr. Kirk Honda would have things to say about my self-soothing through excess, while insisting he’s not pathologizing me from afar.

Pete is either immune or immediately used to this new scent layer, because he hasn’t commented. Except for that one time I retried Ylang 49; he complained that it “stings the nostrils” and he started sneezing.

Can you smell me from 500 miles away? Does it smell healthy?



P.S. Thanks for the pronunciation correction. Le-LA-boo. Not LEE-la-boo.

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Le Labo

Dear Dorigen,

Thanks again for the wonderful gift of Le Labo fragrance samples. These scents linger, so it took me some time to appreciate each on their own merits. I don’t have a nose for the specific notes of scents, but I appreciate the imagery and sense of place that they each gave me.

Presented in the order in which they were first sniffed and with my favorite two *starred:


For Santal 33, I get where Eddie Bulliqi is coming from with “10 Years of Santal 33: Why Did it Capture the World’s Nose?” Yes, it is a scent likened to an art gallery. But, like most art galleries, it’s perhaps too aloof. This scent is not inviting. Santal 33 is to be worn on other people propped on pedestals, while an audience admires and interprets notes from a distance. I don’t want to hug myself when wearing Santal 33.


Neroli 36: I want to bathe in it; eat it; sleep it; luxuriate it. I think Neroli 36 was created in a lab for nefarious purposes, a chemical for heightened intoxication. It’s like a return to the womb. It’s like a journey to another planet. Neroli 36 may one day kill me.


Rose 31 is a shade too floral for me. Or maybe Roses de Chloé already took me to the desert and captured my heart.

LYS 41

When first spayed, I immediately disliked Lys 41. It smelled mechanical? But that initial harsh note soon went away and then it smelled similar to Neroli 36, but less potent. A whisper. Or maybe that really was Neroli 36, seeping from my pores. Either way, I don’t trust Lys 41. It think it’s trying to trick me.


Fleur D’Oranger 27 is a kitchen-with-high-vaulted-ceilings. It’s not an empty kitchen. This kitchen has delectable foods in bowls on counter tops, bird of paradise leaves (not flowers), and ample sunlight. I want to spend time here chatting with you.


Bergamote 22 is a clean bathroom at a very expensive hotel. I appreciate the universal loveliness of the masculine and the feminine balance, but I don’t want to spend time in bathrooms, no matter how luxurious.


Ambrette 9 is a tan, speckled vitamin swallowed while at a beach.


Ylang 49 is a darkly lit room just before a long, relaxing massage. It also has the promise of candies. Like, someone’s grandma is waiting for you to finish your massage, so they can give you a handful of candies.


Likely because I’ve never tasted matcha before, my first sniff of Thé Matcha 26 went to something familiar: the image of a sphere of bright white shaved coconut. Sadly, in my ignorance, this false imagery has remained.


Patchouli 24 is a luscious campfire, set ablaze for royalty.  

I’m curious to learn which are your favorites and what you thought of all of these special scents.



P.S. I think about Neroli 36 when it’s not with me. In these moments, I wonder if it’s thinking about me or if that’s just part of its game.

Dear Emily, 

I am so glad to be on this journey with you! I generally hate perfume and have left rooms because of overly scented people (including one young man I was interviewing for a job. He didn’t get it). I have tried over the years to find a scent I could wear but most perfumes are too floral, sweet, clingy (on the “feminine” side) and too musky, oily, heavy (on the “masculine” side).

Kudos to Le Labo, because they have figured out the formula for beguiling a lifelong perfume-hater like myself into spending hours sniffing and researching scents and spending my childrens’ college money on their wares. I have drunk the Kool-Aid. And my home smells like a bordello. I had heard about Le Labo and learned that every striving artsy New Yorker smells like Santal 33. I also learned that the Santal 26 candle is the official scent of the illuminati, so obviously I was ready to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try.

I ordered the 17-scent “Discovery Box” and embarked on an olfactorial (now a word) journey, which obviously, you had to join me on. The rest of the world appears to be embarking on the same journey, because when I tried to order the box for you it was wait-listed. I went ahead and ordered you the 10 I liked most. In this way, I have spared your nose from some of the more offensive scents in Le Labo’s arsenal (I’m looking at you, Baie 19 and Labdanum 18. I still have nightmares about Jasmine 17).

The entire line (even the florals) have masculine notes of either musk, cedar or smoke, and when they go full macho, it’s pretty gross. Another 13, for example, per my notes, “smells like an expensive men’s barbershop that Johnny Depp (himself an arbiter of scent) goes to.” It was commissioned by highbrow arbiter of fashion/arts/culture, AnOther Magazine, which was founded by Kate Moss’s baby daddy Jefferson Hack, so, you know, “cool.” Unwearable, however, if you are not an aging, but still virile multimillionaire clinging to your rock n’ roll youth. Now that I think about it, I might need to send you this one just because it is apparently so evocative.

On to the scents. They are each named for the primary scent note and a number, which indicates the total ingredient count.

My favorites:

Bergamote 22

Per the naming convention, the main scent is “Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), a type of citrus fruit native to Italy NOT to be confused with other citrus fruits such as bitter orange and sweet orange” (fancy) and as you can see from this tastefully art directed image, other ingredients include cedar, grapefruit, cotton, a matchstick and part of a floorboard. I love it. It’s fruity and a little floral and has that cedar note that apparently is my kryptonite. I learned through this process that my scent MUST HAVE CEDAR. I want to smell like I’ve just run in from the rain through a grove of orange Italian citrus trees and have just changed into the cashmere lounge-wear that I store in my bespoke cedar closet. This is ALMOST it.

Le Labo image

Santal 33

The beer that made Milwaukee famous. The sauna in an expensive spa that is harder to get into than the Met Ball. Sandalwood. Musk. Cardamum. Deep floral notes. It is masculine, but beautiful.  

Thé Matcha 26

THIS is my favorite. According to Le Labo, it is “Introverted and deep by nature. It carries a noble stillness… it is a scented reminder of home, of welcomed solitude, and of all things familiar and treasured.” Yes, that sounds like ME. I love it. It has the cedar and bitter orange that I like from my citrus grove/cashmere closet fantasy home and a deeper note that I can’t place and will just call “crack pie.” Is it Matcha? Is it Vetiver? What are these things? One can spend hours, days, a lifetime reading about arcane scents used in perfumery: their Latin names, their ancient roots, their medicinal properties, their complex extraction processes. (Vetiver is derived from the Tamil word meaning “root that is dug up” and is related to fragrant grasses such as lemon grass, though it is the extracted oil of its long roots that is used in perfumery. Vetiver smells “dry, earthy, woody, leathery and smoky… like uncut grass on a warm day.”) As I said, I love it. It’s woodsy, earthy, a little tart, very dry, with no cloying floral or musky scents. It is the scent of the best version of myself. The intellectually curious, effortlessly chic woman who runs with the wolves. The sapphire- and amethyst-adorned rover of ancient forests. I found myself breathing into the wristbands of my clothing, feeling my body relax.

I proudly held my wrists out to my husband, declaring that I HAD FOUND MY SCENT. “Eh, he said. Not for me. Smells like a man.” I am heartbroken and may never wear perfume again. 



P.S. A few more notes:

Neroli 36: This one dragged up a strong scent memory for me. I am in a small shop in Cambridge, MA that sells bongo drums and serape hoodies. I am 19. Essential Oils have just become a thing that people wear. Patchouli is a common one, but too crusty for me. I loiter at the oil wall as only 19-year-olds avoiding homework can loiter. I have found my scent. It is floral, sticky and sweet. It smells like Neroli 36. 

Baie 19: What young men think they smell like when bathed in Cool Water Cologne.

Rose 31: An incredibly wealthy, impossibly chic italian woman

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A Shacket

Dear Dorigen,

The winter months arrived and so have the mighty shackets.

Shacket (a portmanteau of shirt and jacket) is an oversized button-down of a thick material (often plaid) and usually worn over a solid color turtleneck, t-shirt, or crop top.

left and right at Amazon, middle at Misspap

As soon as the weather dipped sub* 40°, shackets appeared on the backs of nearly every person I encountered. I recently got a bang trim and each stylist in the salon was wearing one, like they were handed their requisite shacket by the fashion police as they walked in for the day.

I like shackets in theory: they are gender neutral, they actually serve a purpose of keeping warm, they are available in a wide range of prices/colors/sizes, and they remind me of the snap-button shirts I coveted in college. While I have my eye on this color-block one, I am hesitant, because I don’t love when any fashion trend becomes so pervasive. As we each strive to find our unique purpose in life and present ourselves in the clothes we wear, why do so many of us choose to take on the day in a shacket, of all things? I suppose they’re more practical than a legging boot.

I must say that the word “shacket” reminds me of the word “shart” (a gross portmanteau of sh*t and fart). I learned this word from Cards Against Humanity, a game I played during a work holiday party my first (and second) year in the tech industry.

I shouldn’t have been so casual in my sharing with you that I played this card game at work, because when you asked me if I enjoyed it, I thought you were slyly inquiring about a potential Christmas present for me and Pete. Had I been more forthcoming about this game’s unabashed raunchiness, I could have saved you the embarrassment of blindly gifting Cards Against Humanity to your unsuspecting in-laws. This year, might I suggest a matching pair of warm shackets? Perhaps with pearl snaps?**

What article of clothing are you seeing everywhere in Nashville this December?



*P.S. Speaking of words reminding me of things, using sub + any number makes me think of video game speed runners, who always strive to achieve a time “sub” a certain theoretical threshold (like completing Portal sub 7m). The videos on Summoning Salt are especially delightful.

**P.P.S. Pete recently declared that his would-be drag queen name is Pearl Snaps.

A Landscape

Dear Dorigen,

The leaves are falling and I’m breaking out the annual turtlenecks and forever sweater dresses. In my restocking from basement bins, I discovered a design theme: landscapes.

#1 The Grand Canyon

This Top Shop t-shirt depicting the Grand Canyon commemorates my visit to Nordstrom online that one time. I hear the Grand Canyon is lovely and my fear of heights will have no part of it. The t-shirt is headed into storage until next summer.

#2 The Mountain Postcard

This turtleneck, from The Kit, is in the aptly named pattern “Mountain Postcard” and will be in heavy rotation in the coming months. I like to think a young Indiana Jones is skulking behind these rock formations, tucking his hair behind his ears and staying on the lookout for robbers of ancient artifacts that “should be in a museum!!!”

#3 The Abstract Landscape Made with Love

When I wear this abstract landscape sweater from Anthropologie, I am often met with the question: “Did a friend make that for you?” When it’s mistaken for an amateur handicraft, that’s when you know it’s FASHION!

#4 The Favorite

This landscape sweater from Barrie was a UAL find; therefore, actually affordable. It’s my favorite article of clothing, but it’s so distinctive that it only makes an appearance once or twice a year. The inverted color scheme makes me think of the imagined time of the dinosaurs and the little pink barn makes me think of the YouTube sensation, The Hoof GP. Do not watch The Hoof GP; it’s gross; it’s great.

#5 The Costume

Valentino is fabulous and I picked up an inspired version of this space “landscape” sweater on Poshmark. It’s best worn with jeans, because when worn with a skirt, the amount of Ms. Frizzle comments I received was enough for me to order a curling iron and design a Halloween costume around it. Stay tuned.

What is your latest fashion theme?



P. S. Also, purely hypothetical… Are you and the family puff-painting a landscape onto a sweatshirt for me for Christmas this year? No pressure. I’m a size L.

That’s Three Scents Please

Dear Dorigen,

Since finding out that the “lingering pinched nerve,” is in fact relapsing MS, I have been doubling down on my fashion choices. In light of the diagnosis, I promised Pete that “I will always be fashionable,” which is my way of assuring him (and myself) that I will not let this illness dampen my hopefulness. Pete recently helped me discover a fashion element that I didn’t know my soul was missing – a new scent.

We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day (Pete’s Gen X-ness is anti-corporations-telling-people-when-to-be-romantic); so instead, I receive flowers and many other sweet acts of kindness at other times in the year. Yesterday, after I randomly sampled a perfume at the mall, Pete offered to gift me a scent for non-Valentine’s Day. At this suggestion, one of the first things I was reminded of was that moment in Weird Science, when the boys were fumbling with samples of perfumes at the mall, looking for that classic gift for their newly made girlfriend.


I had such a crush on Wyatt. Check that vest.

As a couple who often expresses our love in non-traditional ways (e.g. blue wedding dress, decidedly not having kids, etc.), I was intellectually charmed by the novelty of such a traditional gesture, but then when I started smelling these different worlds, I realized how starved I was for such a stimulation of the senses, such a decadent, optimistic change.

Scent 3 – The Old: Marc Jacobs Essence and Daisy

MJessence        MJdaisy

Did you know that you bought me my first designer perfume? It was Essence by Marc Jacobs. I was in my early 20’s and I couldn’t scratch the cost, so you generously gifted it for a birthday. I think you were rocking that pre-2008-crash, Financial Industry money. Essence will always be beloved and after it was discontinued, I purchased a travel size of the similar Marc Jacobs scent, Daisy. I still have and use both bottles, but after decades, their scents have faded and possibly turned into something other.

Scent 2 – The Inspiration: Chloé Roses de Chloé


Chloe’s Roses de Chloe is the perfume that I randomly sampled and that inspired Pete to gift me a new scent. True to its name, Roses does smell of roses and it makes me think of open, airy spaces, a glowing yellow desert. It warmed my heart and it was a close second to the scent that won my soul. Still charmed, I ended up ordering a small sample size of Roses for my desk at work if I ever need a moment of “airiness.”

Scent 1 – The One: Gucci Flora Emerald Gardenia


When I smell Gucci’s Flora Emerald Gardenia, I think of a lush, growing green forest, a mossy blanket of possibility that nourishes and welcomes my soul. For the last several months, my body has been painstakingly attempting to physically repair a feeling that I can best describe as “inner voids,” and then, suddenly, this singular scent has replenished a deep lack in something too personal to describe. It makes me smile.

I am also trying out a new way to wear perfume. Instead of the classic Marisa Tomei spray-then-dip of Untamed Heart, the internet suggests spraying behind the knees and/or elbows. It works. Are you still wearing your signature scent? If you need a fashion change that you can’t put your finger on or if you are wondering what I smell like these days, then the perfume counter may be calling you.



P.S. Valentino’s Donna Born in Roma Eau de Parfum smells like cotton candy fire.

Accidentally On Purpose Fashion

Dear Dorigen,

It was great seeing you and the family in Chicago recently. As you know I had some sort of mystery accident that caused pain and numbness in my side and has made mobility challenging. With challenge comes great fashion responsibility, so here’s how I’m coping.

1) Summer Dresses

Likely the injury is a pinched nerve, and the first thing that was prescribed to me was loose-fitting clothing. I have been in a cute summer dress on the daily for over a month now; if I look like a drunken mummy when I walk, then I am going to make for damn sure that I am dressed like a fabulous, rich, cultured, fashionable drunken mummy. Some of my GO TOs…

Green African Print – Etsy | Multi-color Tiered Dress – Nordstrom Rack | Top Shop Striped Dress – I found it on Poshmark  | Green Etsuko – MM.Lafleur  | Printed Shirt Dress | Midi Floral Dress – Tory Burch – Sold out.

2) Disruptor Sandals

I am currently on another self-imposed clothing spending freeze, so when I spotted these exceedingly cushioned, yet elaborate Fila “Disruptor” sandals that legit help me walk and make me feel fabulous, I asked Pete to buy them for me. Just sayin. As soon as I stepped foot at work in these sandals, I was shocked to be inundated with comments from the young bloods. I thought I was going old school, old person (or as you called them “clodhoppers”), but apparently these were THE sandal of Lollapalooza 2019. I have had strangers come up to me and say things like “oh, I’ve been wanting to see these in person” (because they are apparently in a bunch of fashion blogs, including ours now). Werk.


Fila “Disruptor” Sandals

3) Fashion Cane

I have been threatening to buy a fashion cane for years now, for the various innocuous injuries I incur (e.g. a stubbed toe, slight headache, etc.), and now that I absolutely need one, I bought a standard cane, and added my own flare. I just happened to already own an over-sized fur rabbit keychain that has fulfilled my fidgety heiress fantasy.

I got both of these keychains on Etsy

I will know for certain if it’s a pinched nerve or something else after I get my MRI results. The MRI scan was a trip. They do absolutely everything they can to make you comfortable, so you don’t have a flailing panic attack when trapped within the loud coffin machine. I was given multiple pillows, wrapped in a blanket, eye cover, ear plugs, headphones, and they offered to play absolutely any music (I had them do a YouTube mix of Beirut). On further reflection, I might have gone with one of my “5 desert island albums” – Kelly’s Shoes, Marlo Thomas and Friend’s Free to Be You and Me, Digital Underground’s Sex Packets, Sonic Youth’s EVOL (you bought me that), and anything by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone.

So, that was my long way of asking you – what are the five albums you would take with you to a desert island?