Every guy who grew up in the ’90s knows the importance of cologne. Going on your first few dates was fun, but as a stinky, hormonal teenager, there was nothing better than a spray of good cologne to boost your confidence with the ladies. Of course, being blessed with a job making $4.25 an hour (minus taxes) didn’t leave much room in the budget for more than one small bottle. So every guy I knew had to be selective when choosing his signature scent. My friends and I each splurged on a single bottle of cologne or hoped we received one for Christmas if the funds were too low. No guy ever had more than one bottle unless you were particularly wealthy from a summer job.
Decades later, I still remember all of my friends’ colognes. We each had a bottle proudly displayed on our dresser that we’d share with our buddies when they came over to hang out. I also remember driving over to my buddies’ houses before dates to borrow a quick spray of their cologne just so my girlfriend would notice a different scent on the third or fourth date. And nothing was more meaningful at 16 years old than having a rep in school as a guy who smelled nice.
This past Christmas, I decided that I’m now in a financial position to buy some cologne since my last bottle circa 2007 ran out. That basically means I’ve purchased only two bottles of cologne in 20 years. So I began my search with all the brands I envied back in my school days and, surprisingly, I couldn’t find a single article that mentioned all the iconic brands us 1990s guys wore back in the day.
So here is my definitive ’90s cologne list (in no particular order) for any guy who is now pushing 40 years old and wants to freshen up his scent collection. Reminisce with me a bit and see if this list measures up to your 1990s memories.
Favorite Colognes of the 1990s
- Polo Sport: The iconic round blue bottle. The most common cologne from the ’90s and a staple at every high school party.
- Davidoff Cool Water: The square-edged blue bottle and maybe the coolest cologne ever created. Snoop Dogg even mentioned Cool Water in Lodi Dodi.
- Nautica Blue: Pale blue, fruity in a sail-shaped bottle. For the khakis and boat shoes preppy man.
- CK One: Frosted clear bottle. Fresh, citrus scent.
- Abercrombie and Fitch Woods: More manly than most of the other scents on the list. Sadly, it’s been discontinued (but you can buy online for a hefty price).
- Drakkar Noir: Sleek black container. It’s like the scent of a bachelor in a bottle. Reminiscent of black leather furniture, mirror coffee table with a lava lamp and 15-inch woofers.
- Fahrenheit: The first cologne that enhanced pheromones and has distinct hints of leather. For the man who dared to be different. Truly groundbreaking.
- Hugo Boss: Generic, but a good overall man musk. A delight of the ladies.
- Polo: Iconic golden horse in a green bottle. I can still see it sitting on the dresser.
- Acqua Di Gio: Smells like sophistication. Rare, but especially effective in dimly lit movie theaters.
- Joop: Smelled rebellious.
- Dolce and Gabanna: One of my favorite scents for casual get-togethers. Never met a single creature that didn’t love this scent, man or woman.
- Aspen: For the budget-minded fellow, this is an earthy scent in an iconic green bottle with a gold leaf icon. Still sold at discerning retailers such as Wal-mart.
What were your go-to colognes of the 1990s?
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