My mom has never been much of a baker, but she’s always smelled like one.

By Zoe Denenberg
December 04, 2019
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Getty Images/Kristina Strasunske

When I think back to my childhood, I think of our yellow house on a steep-hilled street; I think of the tin roosters sitting atop the creamy white cabinets, flanking the stove; and I think of the smell of vanilla floating through the kitchen. Nothing was ever baking, except for that one time my mom attempted to make a homemade apple pie. But mom always smelled like vanilla.

This signature scent came not from vanilla extract (although she'd dab that on the inside of her wrists when she ran out of perfume), but from another magical bottle: Outremer Vanille Eau de Toilette. Each Southern woman has her own signature scent: Maybe your mom swears by Chanel No. 5, or the tried-and-true Trésor. My mom traded the florals for warm baking spices long ago, and she’s never looked back.

I’ve gone through my fair share of fragrance phases, experimenting with the parfum du moment (middle school smelled like Juicy Couture; high school like Marc Jacobs); but after countless spritzes of cult-favorite, vaguely floral concoctions, I’ve always returned to this $18 bottle, the same bottle that my mom keeps on her bathroom counter.

Outremer’s Vanille Eau de Toilette is my mother’s scent of choice, and it’s become mine too. The smell is pure and warm, like you’ve just finished up baking a batch of blondies or snickerdoodles. It’s instantly recognizable as vanilla, but not overpowering or bothersome. It’s the kind of smell that you don’t think twice about because it feels so right.

Shop It: anthropologie.com, $18

The bottle design is vintage in a distinctly French fashion. The navy-blue label is adorned with marigolds, outlined in gold; “Eau de Toilette” and “Vanille” are written in the quaint, skinny block font you’d expect to find on the awning of a boulangerie. The perfume itself is authentically French—the Parisian brand, Outremer, has been crafting its delicate scents for over 25 years. Typically, you’d pay top dollar for an imported French perfume, but a full-sized bottle of this one goes for just $18; Anthropologie is one of the only places you can find this signature scent.

WATCH: Jackie Kennedy Wore This Perfume Every Day

Between the startlingly low price point and the enchanting, nostalgic smell, there’s no wonder that the perfume is top-rated. If vanilla isn’t your scent of choice, the brand also offers gold-capped glass bottles in a handful of scents—rose (as always, romantic and floral), bergamonte (a fresh, citrusy bouquet), and oceane (a breezy saltwater scent that will bring memories of seaside afternoons flooding back). If you’re not quite ready to make the commitment, test out the miniature size, which rings it at just $10.

To this day, this $18 Anthropologie perfume smells like joy, love, and something wonderful that's not really baking in the oven—in short, like my mother.

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