What you wear and how you wear it during work hours requires careful thought and placement.

What you wear and how you wear it during work hours requires careful thought and placement. Photo: iStock

One of the last things you want to hear when you first walk in to the office is someone asking what that smell is. Because it's clearly you. And by you I mean me, because exactly this happened last week.

I had recently purchased a new cologne and, in my excitement to try it out, I got a little trigger-happy and practically saturated myself with it before leaving the house. I guess I should have realised something was up when several bees tried to pollenate me while I was waiting for the bus.

Last year, US designer Tom Ford released a list of Fifteen Things A Man Should Have and at number five was the owning of a signature scent. And while the wearing of a cologne of some sort has become a regular part of many men's daily grooming routine, the art of wearing it is still something many of us struggle with.

Most might chuck it on as an afterthought before leaving the house without any thought as to how it will wear several hours later. And when you work in an office, there is nothing worse than a Brian Fantana-type knocking you unconscious with his own personal brand of Sex Panther.

So what are the tricks of the trade that you can apply in order to avoid becoming the office muskrat?

The first thing to figure out before wearing a cologne is your skin type – oily skin tends to hold fragrance better and longer, so you won't need to think about a refresher in the afternoon. As dryer skin tends to absorb much faster, your cologne will have a much shorter lifespan so you can probably afford a touch-up after lunch and mask that burrito you ate.

Secondly, there are some scents better left to being worn after 6pm. Musks, patchouli, incense, and the current must-have ingredient, oud wood, are the kinds of fragrances and notes that are best left out of the office as they tend to sit heavier. Lighter scents based on citrus, woods such as sandalwood and even some florals are much more suitable and subtle enough to wear to the office and not to get under your workmate's nose.

Placement – where should you wear your cologne for best effect? Coco Chanel famously said that a woman should wear perfume wherever she wants to be kissed. Well that's great for her, but your work colleagues don't need to know where you like to be tickled. Two shots. Max. To the chest. Try and avoid wearing it on the neck during the day – your cologne should work with your own body heat and rise up from under your shirt, really only taking effect when someone stands close to you.

Lastly – don't hesitate to own more than one. Christopher Sheldrake, the "Deputy Nose" and Head of Research and Development at the House of Chanel, suggests owning multiple colognes is much the same as owning multiple suits that you wear for specific occasions. "It is natural to have a fragrance wardrobe," states Sheldrake whom, it should be noted, has a vested interest in saying so. "A fragrance expresses the way we feel or what we want to communicate. An all-day 'comfortable' fragrance' should sometimes be replaced by a sexier, evening fragrance."

Personally, I keep a selection of three, maybe four maximum, on rotation at any given time. This gives me a good selection that carries me not only from weekday to weekends and evenings, but also seasonally, with lighter and more refreshing scents worn during summer and warmer, woodier ones during winter.

Do you think colognes are suitable for the office?