The best summer colognes evoke a feeling. Just as summer is punctuated by park sprawls, beach days, and a mojito or three, the best summer fragrances also have some quintessential characteristics: They center on crisp citrus notes, aquatic essence, tropical fruit flavors, as well as refreshing green tones. They emit the optimism of a long, unplugged weekend, and the slow, languid perfection of a 9 p.m. sunset. Best of all, they’re the best candidate for year-round wear, given that we long for summer sun at the height of winter. A warm-weather fragrance can settle into the senses and arouse enough motivation for another blustery day.
Below are our latest and lasting favorites among the best summer colognes, radiating seasonal smells like fields of grass, Italian coastal cruises, high-class kush (seriously), and even pool water with coconut. Pick a favorite or two to get you through a long tireless winter, or to punctuate summer with all the right notes.
Byredo “Mister Marvelous”
After 11 years in retirement, Mister Marvelous is back, and he’s still atop of the fragrance org chart: This is a summery scent for the alpha, when he’s finally able to sport a button-down and let loose. It’s equally appropriate for the office, but Mister Marvelous has a playfulness that suggests a softer side—so if you’re a hard-nosed boss, either avoid it in the workplace, or sport it daily as a reminder lighten up. (It could be good for you.)
Louis Vuitton “Imagination”
Amongst all the best colognes for men, we called this Imagination the best summer scent, and so Louis Vuitton sits atop this list, too. The luxury label finds itself on many of our fragrance roundups of late, thanks to in-house perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud. An invigorating blend of Chinese black tea, Italian citrus, Tunisian neroli, Nigerian ginger, and top-shelf ambrox, Imagination smells like the endless, blissful summer, its potential realized but boundless at the same time.
The scent is a blend of crisp, fresh ingredients—yuzu lemon, basil, and vetiver—strong enough to make an impression, but subtle enough to never make a polarizing one. It’s the perfect summer scent for any office-goer, and also a favorite “stay at home” scent for the freelancer who still dresses for the Zoom.
Richard James “Aqua Aromatica Blade of Grass”
One of our picks for the best green scents, Blade of Grass is positively uplifting: It’s that freshly mown, sprawling park essence of a field of healthy, thriving grass. The scent is rounded with notes of fig tree, moss, bergamot, rosemary, and green tea, which add a crisp, earthy zeal to a totally unique recipe. Best of all, you’re unlikely to find someone else wearing it, so snatch it up and make it your new year-round signature—or a dedicated summer staple.
Diptyque “Eau de Minthé”
Eau de Minthé is a standout among Diptyque’s already astounding scent assortment, with notes of mint, patchouli, geranium, and a dash of nutmeg. It has that barbershop-aftershave essence, and manages to smell both fresh and let’s say “traditionally masculine.”
Hermès “Terre d’Hermès Eau Givrée”
The latest Terre d’Hermès remix is every bit as sensational as its predecessors. It’s a sophisticated, spicy-citrus splash that would make for a terrific year-round/signature scent. Hermès is the most consistent luxury label making accessible scents for the mass market, and this one furthers their perfect record.
John Varvatos “XX Artisan Teal”
Varvatos’ latest is an aquatic masterpiece, juxtaposing driftwood and sea salt against spicy pepper and crisp citrus accords. It teleports you to some private oasis, where the sailboat is parked and the picnic unpacked. Even if it’s Wednesday, your mind is an island with XX Artisan Teal.
Vacation took a risk by diving into the shallow end of the pool: This fragrance intentionally smells like sunscreen—specifically the coconut-tinged variety. It elevates the idea, however, with notes of swimsuit lycra (for real), sea salt, pool water, bergamot, banana, and pineapple. It’s peak summer nostalgia, making a cannonball of a splash thanks to the noses behind beloved niche brand Arquiste (Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Carlos Huber).
Of Elorea’s numerous elemental essences, Water is its most warm-weather wearable. It is equal parts citrusy, floral, and musky, just like summer ought be. This one puts you lakeside, with a gentle breeze giving you the season’s most signature scents. Zen.
Matteo Parfums “Celadawn”
Up-and-coming perfumer and entrepreneur Matthew J. Sánchez launched MATTEO PARFUMS with Celadawn as its cornerstone scent. In it are notes that nod to his father’s Mexican-Sicilian background: Sicilian blood orange, plus Mexican vanilla and ambrous horchata. This one wears beautifully year round, but encapsulates that inimitable west coast sunset—a callback to Sanchez’s own Californian roots.