clear perfume bottles - best classic men's perfumes

What makes a great classic fragrance? Is it timeless the composition or is it its lasting appeal? The process of making the best classic men’s perfumes list was both an exciting and tough thing to do.

Classic fragrances for men have been in production for the better part of the 20th century, starting with the one and only Caron Pour Un Homme De Caron.

I wanted to make something different here than just including the “usual suspects” while preserving the importance of other classic perfumes.

Time is a tricky thing, and eventually, most things get old and forgotten. This is where I hopefully succeed here with the inclusion of the selected fragrances.

Even if you are someone who wants to see how perfumes from the past shaped modern trends or perfume enthusiasts in search to add something special to your perfume collection, you’ve come to the right place.

The following list is no list order whatsoever and now read more to find out which of these perfumes your should own in your perfume collection.

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How I Picked The Best Classic Men’s Perfumes

If I really wanted, I could have picked 50 classic fragrances and everyone would be happy, but it ain’t challenging enough.

The art of limiting yourself to a certain number like 10 makes more public pressure so to speak and puts things into a certain perspective. So, what was my thought process behind this list?

  1. I wanted to create a list of perfumes released up until the year 2000 with the inclusion of the best flanker(if available)
  2. Each of these fragrances should be smelling great on you no matter if you are young or old
  3. I have only included the fragrances I have personally tested and worn at least 20 times
  4. The version that is still in production should resemble the vintage formulations closely enough

Tom Ford once said in an interview for Vogue: “Beauty gives me great joy, but it also gives me great sadness…When I see the rose, and I smell the rose, all I can think of is that the rose is going to wither and be dead. But that’s one of the things that endows it with its beauty. If it were permanent, you wouldn’t even notice it.”

Could have I included fragrances from 2000 up until 2010? Maybe. It is frightening to think about how the 2010s have flown through so quickly.

Thus, I made a trade-off and included a quick list of a couple of great fragrances that I believe will soon enough(if not already) become classics:

  1. Burberry London
  2. Lalique Encre Noire
  3. Creed Aventus
  4. Hermes Terre d’Hermes
  5. Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza
  6. Dior Homme Intense
  7. Dolce & Gabbana The One
  8. Tom Ford Tuscan Leather
  9. Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille
  10. Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur

So, in the end, what I hope you get from the best classic men’s perfumes article is to find out something new you might not have heard about before, and in case you decide to buy any of these fragrances, to actually wear them.

You may call me a perfume minimalist, but I believe that if a fragrance is just sitting on your shelf and collecting dust without getting proper wear, it is a waste of money and space.

This leaves only one final question. Should you wear classic fragrances? Yes, and that’s 100% a yes. Everyone should have at least a couple of classic scents in their perfume wardrobe.

Not only the fragrances of yesteryear were made much more complex, but they also offer a good change of pace to appreciate good things in life.

The List

If you are as excited as I am to share with you what I believe is the best classic men’s perfumes I have worn so far, let’s begin.

Don’t forget to leave a comment at the end of the article to share with the community what are your favorite classics you still wear today.

1. Chanel Antaeus

Why have I picked Antaeus: Believe it or not, Antaeus is one of only the couple of perfumes my girlfriend likes me to wear. Sadly, it has been always overshadowed by its cousin Yves Saint Laurent Kouros which is in my opinion, a great but weaker perfume.

I love the reminiscence of the old aftershaves in the top notes of Antaeus that transition to this wonderful woody-musky bed of roses in the base notes.

A classy historic milestone wearable even today in a way that puts most of the niche perfume to shame for a designer price shouldn’t be missed.

If you ever wondered how castoreum actually smells, even in its synthetic form now, get your nose on mighty Antaeus, the king of the powerhouse era.

  • Perfumer: Jacques Polge
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Woody Chypre
  • Release Date: 1981
  • Most dominant notes: Castoreum, Rose, and Oakmoss
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Spring, Fall, and Winter
  • Occasions: Business and Night outs
  • Longevity and Sillage: 6 – 8 hours with moderate projection
  • Uniqueness: 4/5
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Green, Brown, Red

2. Dior Fahrenheit

Why have I picked Fahrenheit: Like it or not, Fahrenheit will eventually become one of your favorite perfumes you won. I used to hate Fahrenheit passionately and thought about how could anyone ever wear something that smells like you poured a bottle of petrol over yourself.

But in life, things change, and what a change it was. For the last couple of years, Fahrenheit has been one of my favorite perfumes of all time and still continues to be.

When it’s warmer outside, I get the mandarin accord, coming out like a tank, but when it’s colder, the leather jumps like a lion. You might already know that my favorite leather fragrances of all time are Tuscan/Ombre Leather, but I ain’t sure would I ever swap Fahrenheit for either of these. It’s good beyond words.

Read the full review here.

  • Perfumer: Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Michel Almairac
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Leather
  • Release Date: 1988
  • Most dominant notes: Mandarin, Violet, and Leather
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Any season
  • Occasions: Business and leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 6 – 8 hours with moderate projection
  • Uniqueness: 5/5
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Black, Orange, Purple

3. Creed Green Irish Tweed

Why have I picked Green Irish Tweed: Yes, this list would the what it is without Green Irish Tweed. Completely wearable even after it has been on the market for almost 40 years.

Davidoff’s Cool Water is close, but Green Irish Tweed has better ingredients and feels more three-dimensional. Things I don’t like about this perfume are the constant price adjustments by Creed that seem to go up and up by each year, and the change in bottle sizes from 120 ml to 100 ml version.

The blend itself is a smooth combination of grassy notes, combined with a hint of florals and citruses. Evergreen for the ages. Wear it anywhere you like, whenever you want. One of the few Creeds that have not fallen from grace.

  • Perfumer: Pierre Bourdon
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Woody
  • Release Date: 1985
  • Most dominant notes: Lemon Verbena, Violet, and Ambergris
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Any season
  • Occasions: Any Occasion
  • Longevity and Sillage: 8 – 10 hours with moderate projection
  • Uniqueness: 3/5
  • Value for money: 7/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Green, Yellow, Purple

4. Karl Lagerfeld Classic

Why have I picked Classic: I have recently seen people comparing Classic to Guerlain’s Shalimar to which I slightly agree, but Classic is a beast of its own, and a masculine scent 100%.

Lagerfeld Classic is all about the gorgeous tobacco ambery dry down which I love. Even now, I can’t think of a better spicy oriental at this price.

The bottle is artistic, and the quality fragrance is one of those rare gems that actually macerate the longer you have it. Forget about all the reformulation talk, Classic is a pleasure to all your senses when you wear it.

I don’t know why, but each time I wear Classic, it reminds me of the classic 70s movie Sorcerer.

  • Perfumer: Ron Winnegrad
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Oriental Spicy
  • Release Date: 1978
  • Most dominant notes: Tobacco, Amber, and Musk
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business
  • Longevity and Sillage: 8 – 10 hours with moderate projection
  • Uniqueness: 4/5
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Orange, Brown, White

5. Mugler A*Men

Why have I picked A*Men: To my nose, A*Men is the most unique and interesting designer-created perfume of the 90s. A pure gourmand before the gourmand craze we have seen in the last decade or so.

A*Men was my clubbing go-to scent in 2014 – 2015 which I highly recommend you test on your skin instead of on paper.

The great thing about the A*Men and its ultra-sweet chocolate/coffee-based note pyramid is that is once again in the style that you cannot say for a lot of old fragrances right now. Warm, rich, and addictive.

Flanker alternative: Mugler A*Men Pure Havanne

  • Perfumer: Jacques Huclier
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Sweet Oriental
  • Release Date: 1996
  • Most dominant notes: Coffee, Vanilla, and Patchouli
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 10 – 12 hours with moderate projection
  • Uniqueness: 4/5
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Brown, Green, Pink

6. Hugo Boss Bottled

Why have I picked Bottled No.9: Of all the mentioned perfumes on this best classic men’s perfumes list, No. 9 holds the most special place in my heart. It is where it all started to get serious with me, even though it wasn’t the first perfume I bought for myself.

Yes, it is one of the most overused perfumes during the last couple of decades and yes, the intense version is better since it resembles the original formula much closer than this Eau de Toilette. but man, oh man.

Every now and then I do spray myself with No. 9, and it brings back me to the good old days straight away.

Flanker alternative: Boss Bottled Eau de Parfum

  • Perfumer: Annick Menardo
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Spicy Oriental
  • Release Date: 1998
  • Most dominant notes: Apple, Cinnamon, and Vanilla
  • Age Group: 20+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business, Romantic, and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 4 to 6 hours with soft projection
  • Uniqueness: 3/5
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Yellow, Green, Purple

7. Joop! Homme

Why have I picked Homme: Say it what you like, but I still think that Joop Homme’s dry down destroys Montblanc Individuel out of the park.

Officially, it is the first men’s gourmand ever released, but I have seen a couple of articles mentioning some other fragrance I cannot remember.

Sweet and heavy Joop’s formula will stick to your skin for almost two days, but on clothes…. a week or two easily. It is that strong.

Joop broke boundaries about what men should smell like by introducing sweet notes of vanilla and cinnamon notes at the forefront presented in a pink liquid. That’s it is still popular and worn by millions. The great dry down…what a beautiful dry down.

Don’t go too heavy on the sprayer since it can get too much if you are not expecting it to be this strong. So, all things considered, it’s easy to think about all the reasons why Joop Homme still has its lasting appeal.

  • Perfumer: Michel Almairac
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Oriental
  • Release Date: 1989
  • Most dominant notes: Heliotrope, Vanilla, and Cinnamon
  • Age Group: 20+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Night outs, and Romantic
  • Longevity and Sillage: 24+ hours with a huge projection
  • Uniqueness: 5/5
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Yellow, Pink, Light Brown

8. Dior Eau Sauvage Extreme

Why have I picked Eau Sauvage Extreme: I know, I know. You were expecting to see the original Eau Sauvage here, not some “Extreme” version you’ve never heard about it, but hear me out. I’m probably the only one talking about the black sheep perfume of the Eau Sauvage family, and glad to do so.

Extreme takes the best parts of the original formula and envelops it into an aromatic heart. The opening brings out the beautiful citrus freshness with bergamot, and lemon, while the heart is totally aromatic.

This is where the basil, lavender, and rosemary come to play. Funnily enough, these notes have once again popular in the mainstream. It’s funny how trends of the past became popular again decades later.

The dry down becomes slightly powdery with hints of woodiness coming from the signature vetiver note.

Dior Eau Sauvage Extreme is contemporary and enjoyable wear that takes the best parts of the original from the 60s and shows you where the idea of Parfum started.

Flanker alternative: Dior Eau Sauvage Parfum

  • Perfumer: François Demachy(reformulation)
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette Intense
  • Fragrance Type: Citrus Aromatic
  • Release Date: 1984
  • Most dominant notes: Lavender, Lemon, and Rosemary
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Spring and Fall
  • Occasions: Business and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 6 – 8 hours with moderate projection
  • Uniqueness: 4/5
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Yellow, Green, Purple

9. Guerlain Heritage

Why have I picked Heritage: I knew that this list had to include at least one Guerlain in order to be a proper article about classic fragrances. Yet, I wasn’t sure which one should it be. Vetiver and Habit Rouge probably have more historical significance than Heritage, but the smell of vintage and Derby seem to get the same comments.

So, I decided to include Heritage here. The predecessor of Guerlain L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme Eau Extreme, and the first perfume ever to be associated with the term “Guerlinade”.

At this price point, you won’t find a better patchouli-based fragrance, and it’s finally starting to get the hype it deserved a long time ago. I understand that some may complain there isn’t any real sandalwood in this fragrance anymore, but trust me, in this IFRA perfume-regulated world we will in now, this is crème de la crème of its genre.

Is it a masterpiece like some say? Well, that depends on who you ask. As for me, Heritage has one of the all-time best openings in perfumery I would recommend it to perfume enthusiasts Enough said.

Read the full review here.

  • Perfumer: Jean-Paul Guerlain
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Woody Oriental
  • Release Date: 1992
  • Most dominant notes: Patchouli, Sandalwood, and Amber
  • Age Group: 30+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Business
  • Longevity and Sillage: 8 – 10 hours with moderate projection
  • Uniqueness: 3/5
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Brown, Green, Red

10. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio

Why have I picked Acqua di Gio: Can you believe that there are generations of men now that haven’t tried the most successful fragrance of all time – Acqua di Gio? Even I have been first introduced to this line via Profumo and not the original.

Of all the fragrances mentioned on this list, the old ADG still has the most modern scent DNA out there, with flankers coming out almost every year now, which are just a variation of the original.

Acqua di Gio is one of those iconic classic fragrances that smells clean, and refreshing, and it’s easy to wear in almost any situation. The dominance of sea notes, citruses, florals, and spices gives ADG a flowery and woody scent profile that is unbeaten by its flankers even today. I just wish it was a little bit stronger.

  • Perfumer: Alberto Morillas and Annick Menardo
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Citrus Aquatic
  • Release Date: 1996
  • Most dominant notes: Sea notes, Bergamot, and Jasmine
  • Age Group: 20+
  • Seasons: Any season
  • Occasions: Any occasion
  • Longevity and Sillage: 4 – 6 hours with moderate projection
  • Uniqueness: 3/5
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Perfume Color Palette: Blue, Green, White


perfume shop best classic mens perfumes

I like these and many other classic perfumes which were made during the golden years of perfumery. This doesn’t mean we don’t have great stuff coming out each year, but I believe that the perfumes before the year 2000 had more complexion and “soul“.

As the years go by, I will try to get my nose on other great stuff from the past, and if I find something that’s worthwhile your time, I’ll be sure to update you via this article.

In case you are in doubt about whether you should consider buying any of the perfumes on this list, it’s always good to take a look at Scent Grail’s S.P.A. Signature Factor Guide.

It is easy to use and the most relevant perfume-buying guide on the web. This way, you can check out if a particular fragrance is worth checking out, and potentially find your signature perfume.

If you have enjoyed this best classic men’s perfumes article, find out more Scent Grail articles about perfumery, and check out top lists, and other helpful reviews via the links below:




Until next time, have a great time, and keep smelling like a million bucks!

Best, Marin!
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  1. My 22 year old son started to be interested in fragrances and has about 10 bottles of cologne that most find nice and I hate most. His birthday is coming up and I was looking for a list that shows the best of 90s-2000s and this list is amazing. my favorite fragrance in man of all times is D&G pour homme 1994 version, ni longer made, but what a scent.

    1. Hi Reyna. From everything on this list, Fahrenheit and Acqua di Gio would be the safest bets for a 22-year-old. I also believe that Fahrenheit Le Parfum and Acqua di Gio Profumo are even better options to experience those classic masterpiece perfumes in a modern way. Best, Marin 🙂

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