The Clean Girl Perfumes That Smell Fresh & Expensive

It’s giving fresh linen and breezy Sundays.
Image: marie claire Australia

When it comes to fragrance, it’s easy to be attracted to the bolder scents. Whether it’s a floral bouquet, smoky bombshell or sweet candied essence, there are so many delectable perfumes to sink your teeth into (not literally, please).

However, with the rise of the old money, low-key and pared back sophistication of the ‘clean girl’ trend, we’re seeing a lot more muted, fresh scents come to the forefront. The best bit about them? They have that subtle, elevated, complicated class about them that just makes you smell expensive.

So, two marie claire writers set off on an expedition to try the best clean scents that will make you smell fresh, clean and oh-so-expensive, and let’s just say that we have found some real gems.

The Best Perfumes To Make You Smell Expensive

Le Labo Noir 29 50mL, $345, Le Labo


This cult fragrance has to go at the top of the list simply because we walked into a meeting wearing it and someone literally said to our faces, ‘you smell…expensive’. If you’re looking for a fragrance that fits the bill, it’s this one.

A complex, stately scent that has an androgynous tone that never gives ‘too much’. It’s laid back, but present, with a long finish.

  • Top Notes: Fig, Bay Leaf, Bergamot
  • Middle Notes: Cedar, Vetiver, Musk
  • Base Notes: Tobacco, Hay

Byredo Bal D’Afrique 50mL, $180, Chemist Warehouse


This perfume bottles up the sundrenched beaches of the Seychelles with something decidedly more stylish and cosmopolitan. Designed as an African-French fusion scent, it’s woody, fresh and light.

  • Top Notes: Amalfi Lemon, Tagetes, Black Currant, Bergamot, Orange Flower
  • Middle Notes: Violet, Cyclamen, Jasmine
  • Base Notes: Vetiver, Musk, Amber, Virginia Cedar

Who Is Elijah Eau 100mL, $179, Sephora


Evoking a warm summer night along a salt-blown coastal headland, this fragrance is feels like a stroll through nature. It’s got bright green plant nose but that is balanced by the warmth from the woods and coconut milk and it is long-lasting on the skin.

  • Top Notes: Green Leaves, Stems Greens, Pear, Bergamot
  • Middle Notes: Black Fig, Coconut Milk, Iris
  • Base Notes: Woodsy Notes, Musk, Tonka Bean, Moss

Maison Margiela Replica Sunday Morning 100mL, $182.70, Catch


Slipping into freshly laundered and starched sheets, this linen-forward fragrance feels like lying on the bed in the sunshine. It has a complex musk to the undertone, which makes you think of clean skin, while extremely subtle floral notes add a delicate edge of interest.

  • Top Notes: Aldehydes, Lily-Of-The-Valley, Pear
  • Middle Notes: Rose, Iris, Orange Blossom
  • Base Notes: White Musk, Ambrette, Indonesian Patchouli Leaf

Juliette Has A Gun Ode To Dullness 50mL, $179, Sephora

Image: Sephora

There’s something cosy in avoiding the ‘sharp edges’ in life, and Juliette Has A Gun’s Ode To Dullness is like a hug in a bottle. It’s not overpowering, it’s not the star of the show, but she has a certain mystery and she lingers on the nose and in the mind in a way that makes you want to go back for more.

  • Top Notes: Badiane Freesia
  • Middle Notes: Sandalwood, Cashmere Flower
  • Base Notes: Tonka Bean, Musk

Glossier You 100mL, $180, Glossier


She’s ambiguous but she has a lot to say. This clean-yet-sensual scent has an elevated soapy energy that is reminiscent of when you’re dunked into a sudsy bath. It has a floral edge from the Iris but it is dulled by the pink pepper which adds a little spice and interest without being too much.

  • Main Notes: Pink Pepper, Iris, Ambrette Seeds, Ambroxan

Chanel Chance Eau Fraîche 50mL, $190, MYER


Looking out over Mediterranean vistas, the freshness of this scent is captured in the name and replicated inside the bottle. There’s a tart spice, a light woodsy element, and a hit of lemon balanced by the florals for a delectable fragrance you’ll come back to time and again.

  • Top Notes: Lemon, Cedar, Citron
  • Middle Notes: Water Hyacinth, Pink Pepper, Jasmine
  • Base Notes: White Musk, Patchouli, Vetiver, Teak Woods, Iris, Amber

Philosophy Amazing Grace 60mL, $68, MYER


If you know that simple doesn’t mean boring, then the Philosophy Grace fragrance is for you. It’s been around for years, and there’s a reason people still love it. It’s clean, airy, and feminine, with that undertone of musk to create some mystery and grandeur.

  • Top Notes: Bergamot, Grapefruit, Mandarin Orange
  • Middle Notes: Freesia, Jasmine, Rose
  • Base Notes: Musk

Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne 50mL, $173, Jo Malone


A salty cliff, a maritime swim, perfectly balanced for both winter and summer wear, this fragrance from Jo Malone is highly rated for a reason. It embodies a type of nature that feels pared back, understated, but oh so beautiful.

  • Main Notes: Sea Salt, Sage, Grapefruit, Ambrette, Seaweed

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