A quick word of caution before we swan dive into an Olympic-size swimming pool of the most complimented cologne offerings available to you right now. No, it’s not to advise you against diving into cologne-filled pools, though… sure. That too.
It’s to give you a friendly reminder that fragrances are entirely subjective. What’s going to net you a compliment from one person may not even register on the next person’s radar. At risk of over-generalizing, however, the notes that tend to receive the most compliments are traditionally masculine ones like wood, musk, and tobacco. But again, subjective.
Some of my picks are crowd-pleasing fragrances that have achieved legendary status throughout their impressively long runs. Others are more niche offerings brimming with fan-favorite notes.
Without further ado, here you have them—the eight most complimented men’s cologne options for you to gloriously unleash upon those fortunate enough to be within the orbit of your pulse points.
The subjective nature of fragrances makes it tricky to nail down a universal set of desired qualities. That said, traditionally masculine scents tend to stand out above the rest. Dior Sauvage is my top pick for the most complimented cologne thanks to its versatile, ruggedly soft notes and long-lasting projection. And on the budget end of things, Cremo’s Spice and Black Vanilla packs a seductive punch.
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Truth or dare?
Dare? Great. I dare you to spritz some Dior Sauvage on your neck, go to a public place, and just sort of walk around. No rush. Also, that’s a super stupid dare. But really, I just want you to feel what it’s like to be showered with compliments from random people and overhear things like, “Do I smell top notes of bergamot and pepper that give way to lavender before being rounded out with musk and cedar? Whoa. That’s a combination that can be worn day or night regardless of the season.” And, “This guy’s definitely wearing Kelly Larson’s pick for the most complimented cologne overall.”
Individual compliments may vary.
Top Notes: Bergamot, Pepper | Middle Notes: Pepper, Lavender, Vetiver, Patchouli | Base Notes: Musk, Cedar | Size: 3.4oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: All
Cremo is a Laguna Beach-based grooming brand that launched with a single shaving cream in 2005. Since then, the company has expanded its offerings to include all manner of wellness and grooming essentials—including, of course, cologne.
Cremo Spice and Black Vanilla is brimming with woody and masculine scents like vanilla, cardamom, and bourbon. It’s subtle yet projects just enough, and just long enough, to make an impression. This cologne is a perfect fireside companion, whether you’re getting into an après-ski hot toddy at the lodge or setting the mood at home next to the fireplace.
Top Notes: Cardamom | Middle Notes: Wood | Base Notes: Bourbon, Vanilla, Vetiver | Size: 3.4oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: Fall, Winter
Of course, what most complimented cologne list would be complete without mention of Creed Aventus? It’s the luxury fragrance house’s most popular offering and has reached something of a legendary status since its 2010 release.
This is a bold, elegant cologne with top notes of lemon and apple, followed by pheromone-releasing scents like jasmine, then headier notes like birch, oakmoss, and musk. It’s an incredibly long-lasting cologne that will change character throughout the day and night. If you’ve got a little wiggle room in your fragrance budget, consider this a must-add to your collection.
Top Notes: Lemon, Pink Pepper, Apple, Bergamot, Blackcurrant | Middle Notes: Pineapple, Jasmine, Patchouli | Base Notes: Birch, Ambergris, Cedarwood, Oakmoss, Musk | Size: 3.3oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: All
The stakes aren’t necessarily low for younger cologne users, but let’s just say there’s plenty of room for error when it comes to your choices. If you’re a young man, chances are you’ll be in the orbit of young women. Will everyone present have a sophisticated olfactory palette? Sure, maybe. But also, maybe-probably not.
So do your thing. Spritz whatever you want to spritz. Or (and I’m just spitballing here) you could let me save you some trial-and-error and point you in the direction of
Top Notes: Green Leaves, Apple, Lotus | Middle Notes: Water Lotus | Base Notes: Cedarwood, Amber Musk | Size: 3.3oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: Spring, Summer
Stockholm-based Byredo produces a range of products and has established itself as a leader in the fragrance world thanks to popular colognes like Gypsy Water, Bal d’Afrique, and Bibliothèque. But easily one of the most crowd-pleasing, compliment-grabbing fragrances among its entire impressive collection is Mojave Ghost.
The versatile cologne is suitable for day or evening wear. And its notes—ranging from berry to sandalwood to musk—don’t read one season over another. If you’re looking for a staple, year-round scent that will serve you well from day to night, you’d be wise to start here.
Top Notes: Ambrette, Nesberry | Middle Notes: Magnolia, Sandalwood, Violet | Base Notes: Cedarwood, Musk, Vetiver | Size: 3.3oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: All
Some of the world’s most popular and legendary fragrance houses have been producing perfumes for centuries. And even though Boy Smells was founded over eight years ago, it’s essentially still a fetus in the fragrance world.
The brand’s popularity is more than justified by scents like Violet Ends, a rustic, come-hither eau de parfum featuring prominent notes of black pepper, tobacco leaf, incense, tanned leather, and smoked papyrus. It’s sure to become one of the best men’s colognes for compliments in your arsenal, especially during the fall and winter months.
Top Notes: Rhubarb, Bergamot, Black Pepper | Middle Notes: Black Tea, Tobacco Leaf, Incense | Base Notes: White Birch, Tanned Leather, Smoked Papyrus | Size: 2.2oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: Fall, Winter
Another classic, Armani’s Acqua Di Gio, is a must if you’re looking for the most complimented cologne for wearing during the summer. This household-name fragrance is as fresh as it gets with top notes of citrus and bergamot. In the middle are peach, rosemary, and rose, rounded out by base notes of musk and cedar.
You could certainly wear this year-round, but it’s not going to pop the same during colder months. The ideal situation for this one, among countless others no doubt, is sipping rum cocktails with friends at a windswept beach bar. Oh fine, you can also wear it at a pool bar.
Top Notes: Citrus, Bergamot, Jasmine, Neroli | Middle Notes: Peach, Rosemary, Coriander, Nutmeg, Rose | Base Notes: Musk, Cedar, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Amber | Size: 3.4oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: Spring, Summer
Glass of bourbon. Crackling fire. Snow gently cascading from the sky. The faint yet distinctive scents of cardamom, lavender, and vetiver wafting through the room. I can’t help you with those first few mood-setters, but I can definitely help you with the last one.
Rather, Yves Saint Laurent can with its La Nuit De L’Homme fragrance. Perfect for the fall and winter months, you’re working with masculine, earthy notes that will work overtime to help set a romantic, seductive tone. This one’s got quite a bit of character, so you’re better off saving it for the cabin, happy hour, or that aforementioned fireside scenario.
Top Notes: Cardamom, Bergamot | Middle Notes: Lavender, Black Pepper, Cedarwood | Base Notes: Tonka Bean, Vetiver | Size: 3.3oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: Fall, Winter
What To Look For In The Most Complimented Colognes
This is far from a revelation, but when people compliment your cologne, they’re complimenting its scent. Is it floral or citrusy? Spicy or woody? Most compliment-nabbing colognes are in the latter camp, so you may have your best luck there. That said, scent is subjective and the feedback you get, if any, depends on who’s around at the time.
Some of the most complimented cologne notes are earthy, woody, and musky, so it would stand to reason that fall and winter are your times to shine. And there’s definitely some truth to that. But there are also plenty of fragrances out there, like Dior Sauvage and Byredo Mojave Ghost, that feature those masculine notes but are also offset by summer-friendly scents that make them suitable for year-round use.
A cologne isn’t going to get you any compliments if it’s not going to last as long as you need it to. Consider whether your typical schedule allows you to go home and freshen up or keeps you out all day and into the evening, then choose your cologne accordingly. Creed Aventus, Acqua Di Gio, and even some solid colognes are known for their longevity.
The best men’s cologne for you is the one that you enjoy smelling. The best men’s cologne for compliments is the one that other people enjoy smelling. Rocket science? Nope, but it’s very subjective. That said, masculine notes are generally revered, and you can’t go wrong with Dior Sauvage—a crowd-pleasing favorite.
The fragrances that tend to get the most compliments typically contain traditionally masculine scents like wood, cedar, and leather. If collecting compliments is your goal, that’s a good place to start. But keep in mind that it really depends on who’s around when you are and the scents that they prefer.