A distinct, signature scent is something that every man should have. Not something that overpowers and lingers in the room long after he's gone, but something that makes people (especially women) think "he smells nice!" when you go in for a hug or have a close conversation.
When choosing a cologne, it can difficult to know where to start, because there are just so many different scents to choose from out there. If you are buying cologne as a gift, a great starting point is to consider the hobbies, lifestyle and interests of the guy you are buying for. Cologne and fragrances make excellent presents for men, but start first with a little bit of a personality profile.
For example, is he an academic? You may be able to tell from his taste for bourbon and scotch, his affection for leather bound books, and his adventurous spirit when it comes to trying new foods and international cuisine. The academic man typically prefers rainy days over very hot and sunny ones, and winter over summer. He may even smoke a pipe. If this is the guy you're shopping for, a great match for him will be a woodsy and spicy scent. Look for a fragrance that lists notes such as moss, spice, clove, and patchouli. One that Esquire magazine recommends is Italian Cyprus by Tom Ford. This spicy scent is perfect for the academic man, and also great for winter because of its woodsy warmth.
What about the guy who prefers to be outdoors and on the beach in the summer, in nothing but a pair of swim trucks? This man will prefer a light, crisp scent over something that is spicy and woodsy. Look for a marine-inspired cologne, such as Hugo Element or Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani. The freshness of these light colognes will compliment his adventurous nature. He also may like Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Cologne, which is a unisex scent that is slightly tropical smelling, or Play by Givenchy, which is very summery and evokes a fun and playful sort of feel.
There are also plenty of good fragrances for the man who is a bit of a romantic. You know the guy. He's the one who goes soft in the knees over cute babies, brings you flowers for no reason at all, and pretends to be annoyed when you put on The Notebook again, but then sits down and watches the whole movie with you. For this guy, choose a cologne that is a little bit sweet and not too overpowering. Look for ones that include notes of citrus, vanilla, herbs such as thyme, and/or flowers such as lily and iris. A good match for the romantic guy is Burberrry Summer, which is slightly musky.
If you have any doubt about what kind of cologne will be best for him, a general rule of thumb is that most men enjoy a woody, masculine and aromatic scent. If you smell a cologne that not only is pleasant to you, but also triggers happy, comforting memories, then this is the cologne you should buy. Good stand-bys that smell nice on just about any man are Guilty by Gucci and Dreamer by Versace.
Even though some colognes are rather expensive, they are worth the investment. Drug store colognes are made of mostly alcohol, and therefore they not only wear off quickly, but they also tend to not smell as nice on the skin as they do in the bottle. Good quality colognes, conversely, smell even better on the skin than in the bottle, as they warm to the wearer's natural body heat, and they are long lasting.