It’s a good bet that Giorgio Armani’s $930 fashionable pants or elegant $230 dress shirts weren’t designed for guys like me. My runway model good looks and extravagant fashion budget aside, a lot of this high-end designer’s products are made for dudes who don’t just read Esquire, but buy the stuff advertised in the first 90 pages. The fragrances from the classic Italian design house are a different story, though. While you’re more apt to find his colognes at Macy’s or Sephora than Target or T.J. Maxx, Armani eau de toilettes won’t really break the bank, especially when you consider a little goes a long way, and online, there are bargains to be had. I sampled three scents, all that are easily found for $37-59 for a nice-sized bottle: the über popular Acqua di Gio, the sultry Armani Code and the brand new, fresh Armani Code Sport.
I’m not a perfume pro, and I certainly can’t isolate every note in every product, but my favorite of the trio was 2004’s oriental-style Armani Code, a cologne that, to my nose, is a tantalizing blend of bergamot, lemon tree, tonka bean (vanilla) and woods. It’s office-appropriate, but you can still smell it by happy hour, as it mellows into something deeper and more mysterious. This is the kind of juice that could be your special occasion, signature scent in a heartbeat. I also really liked 1996’s Acqua di Gio, but since it’s one of, if not the best-selling men’s colognes in America, you might smell like a lot of other guys if you wear it. It’s super-popular for a reason, though: light, citrus-y, fruity but not-in-your-face aquatic, you’ll probably love it or hate it. Even if you know nothing about fragrance, this one screams daytime summer fun and skews younger than Code.
My final Armani sampler was the brand new Code Sport, and while I’m not a huge fan of “sport” colognes, this one is pretty good; a big upgrade from, say, Burberry Sport. It doesn’t smell much like the original Code; rather it’s a fresh blend of three mints, lemon, mandarin and vetiver (and more that I could list but can’t personally isolate). It has atomic projection that you can still smell 12 hours later, and I’m partial to its top and heart notes; the woodsy base notes don’t move me as much. Wear this cool cologne after a workout and let it simmer all night.