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Fragrance March 1st, 2024

The Ultimate Guide To Ralph Lauren Fragrances For Men

Fragrance March 1st, 2024
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Few brands embody the essence of timeless elegance as completely as Ralph Lauren.

Rugged, classic, preppy, American – these may be a few of the words you associate with the Ralph Lauren brand. Renowned for his impeccable taste and commitment to quality, Ralph Lauren’s personal ethos of the refined style follows the brand into fragrances.

Just as different pieces in the brand’s menswear collections are appropriate for everything from black tie formal to a summer picnic, Ralph Lauren’s wide range of fragrances have a scent for just about every occasion, season and personality.

Scents have a way of transporting us to different places. A smell that reminds you of your grandmother’s turkey may transport you back decades to a family holiday gathering. The salty scent of the sea may remind you of vacations, hobbies or seasons of life. The unmistakable smell of tomato plants is forever tied to summertime. And as far as personal scents go, I can’t say it better than Elizabeth Taylor:

The beauty of fragrance is that it speaks to your heart . . . and hopefully someone else’s.

Elizabeth Taylor

In this comprehensive guide, we invite you into the universe of Ralph Lauren fragrances. We’ll explore the diverse collection that has become synonymous with luxury, style, and a distinctly American spirit.

Before we get to the brand, however, I want to set the stage with a reminder of a few fragrance basics.

What are the differences between cologne and perfume?

Contrary to popular vernacular, cologne is not a masculine fragrance and perfume a feminine fragrance. The terms have to do with concentration of ingredients, which brings us to . . .

What do the different fragrance types mean?

These denote concentration or the general strength of the scent. Some scents come in multiple concentrations of perfume oil. Here are the five types of fragrance concentrations, starting with the highest.

  • Parfum: 20-30% concentration
  • Eau de Parfum: 15-20% concentration
  • Eau de Toilette: 5-15% concentration
  • Eau de Cologne: 2-4% concentration
  • Eau Fraiche: 1-3% concentration

Higher concentrations are not necessarily better, but they typically stay on the wearer for longer periods of time. While quantity used, activity level, and so on will have a significant impact upon longevity, these rules of thumb may be helpful.

  • Parfum: Up to 6-8 hours
  • Eau de Parfum: Up to 4-5 hours
  • Eau de Toilette: Up to 2-3 hours
  • Eau de Cologne: Up to 2 hours
  • Eau Fraiche: Up to 2 hours

What are perfume notes?

Think of notes as layers of flavor in your favorite Scotch Whisky. Certain notes jump out immediately while others emerge when given more time on the tongue until, finally, others linger as an aftertaste.

With fragrances, top notes take center stage first and are typically smelled most distinctly within the first 5-15 minutes. Heart notes then emerge in the 20-60 minute range until base notes linger for the remainder of the wear. Typically the lighter scents – think citrusy or floral – are at the top of the wear with more robust scents – like musk or oakmoss – anchoring the base.

Two more terms to know: accords are blends of aromatic materials to form distinct scents and sillage, French for “wake”, refers to the scent left behind by the wearer.

Do men still wear fragrances?

Absolutely! The surveys vary in their exact numbers, but the majority of American men wear fragrances at least occasionally and a sizable segment wear fragrances every day. We all smell like something, so it isn’t a question of having a scent or not having a scent. The question is what aroma you will present to the world. One’s scent may be a combination of soaps, shampoos, deodorants, detergents or fabric softeners, natural body oils and, of course, other scents we pick up from our environments throughout the day (coffee shops can be overwhelming).

But beyond the obvious scent fragrances provide, there is still something right and proper in the practice of wearing a favorite scent that completes an outfit or prepares one for a special evening. Fragrances, when worn well, are the mark of a true gentleman and I consider it the finishing touch of any outfit. I enjoy wearing a wide variety of fragrances and have learned much from the robust online community passionate about everything fragrance-related.

Ralph Lauren Purple Label cologne is the epitome of elegance and class.

The Current Ralph Lauren Men’s Fragrance Lineup

The Ralph Lauren family of fragrances for men has greatly expanded in the last few years. Many classics remain, but newer fragrances meet younger generations ready for something to call their own. The colors represent different expressions, not any sort of hierarchy.

Polo Eau de Toilette (Green)

Polo Eau de Toilette, which comes in a green bottle and may often be referred to as simply “Polo Cologne” or “Polo Green”, is what comes to mind when we think of Polo Ralph Lauren fragrances. The brand’s original scent, first released in 1978, has been the go-to for generations of men given its masculine punch and timeless appeal. The scent was orchestrated by the perfumer some consider the greatest American perfumer of our time: Carlos Benaïm. Polo Green is the standard bearer for the brand’s fragrances.

  • Top notes: Pine Accord, Thyme Oil, Basel Oil
  • Heart notes: Leather Accord, Tobacco Leaf Absolute, Tarragon Accord
  • Base notes: Patchouli Oil, Oakmoss Accord, Incense Oil

Polo Green is one of my favorite classic scents during the winter months. From the strong pine opening to heart notes reminiscent of a well-worn leather jacket and aged tobacco to the lasting trail of oakmoss, this remains a classic masculine fragrance. The sillage can be a little strong, so I typically save it for evenings when I’ll be out and about rather than inside an office or closed space.

Polo Oud Parfum

Launched in 2023, Polo Oud Parfum is a newer member of the fragrance family in general, and Green line in particular. Although it comes in a green-colored bottle, this is a very different fragrance from Polo Green with Oud highlighting the fragrant oils extracted from tree resin.

  • Top notes: Pink Pepper Oil, Clary Sage Absolute
  • Heart notes: Cinnamon Oil, Orange Flower Absolute, Rose Absolute Heart
  • Base notes: Patchouli Oil, Guaiac Wood Oil, Vetiver Oil, Oud Wood Oil, Incense Resinoid

Polo Oud starts with spicy notes before quickly turning floral. The heavier, classically masculine oud base stays for a longer wear and is best worn in Autumn or Winter.

Polo Cologne Intense

Polo Cologne Intense was added to the collection in 2021 and, while the bottle may be easily confused with Polo Green or Oud Parfum (Intense comes in a slightly darker bottle with a dark cap), Polo Cologne Intense is a fragrance all its own. You’ll notice that everything I called out on Polo Green (Pine, Leather and Oakmoss) aren’t present in Polo Cologne Intense:

  • Top notes: Basil Oil, Spearmint Oil, Grapefruit Oil
  • Heart notes: Clary Sage Leaf, Violet Leaf Absolute, Thyme Oil
  • Base notes: Patchouli, Ambroxan, Vetiver Oil

So if Intense isn’t Polo Green “turned up to 11”, what is it? Spearmint really shines at the beginning as part of an overall strong green impression. Citrus also comes through before landing into what some may recognize as classic barbershop scents. You know how some cousins look and act as if they could be siblings while others might as well be complete strangers? Polo Intense is somewhere in between, but closer to the latter. That’s neither good nor bad, just different.

Polo Blue

Polo Blue transports its wearer to a breezy seaside retreat on a summer day. The fragrance opens with a burst of freshness as this harmonious blend creates a crisp and lively introduction. This aromatic infusion in the middle of the wear adds depth and complexity, capturing the essence of a serene marine experience.

  • Top notes: Cantaloupe Melon Accord, Cucumber Accord, Watery Melon Accord, Bergamot Oil
  • Heart notes: Aquatic Accord, Clary Sage Oil, Geranium Oil, Basil Verbena Oil
  • Base notes: Washed Suede Accord, Patchouli Heart, Sheer Musk Accord

Polo Blue is available as Parfum and Eau de Toilette as well as extensions into deodorant, after shave and shower gel. First introduced in 2003, Polo Blue is a “straight down the fairway” entry point to fine aquatic fragrances.

Polo Red

Polo Red, with its softer and sweeter notes, may make the “I don’t wear fragrances” reader rethink their position. This is a fragrance that can be worn in most settings as it’s inviting without an over-the-top projection.

  • Top notes: Lemon, Bergamot, Juniper
  • Heart notes: Red saffron, Clary sage, Lavender
  • Base notes: Cedarwood, Vetiver, Vanilla

Debuting in 2013, Polo Red is best suited for Winter months as the Vanilla really shines in the base notes. Polo Red comes in Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum, and is accompanied by a matching deodorant.

Polo Black

A contemporary expression in the Ralph Lauren fragrance collection released in 2005, Polo Black blends modern sophistication with exotic allure. The fragrance pops with vibrant fruity freshness before adding complexity and settling into a velvety foundation.

  • Top notes: Mango, Tangerine, Lemon
  • Heart notes: Tonka Bean, Sage
  • Base notes: Sandalwood, Patchouli

Created by Pierre Negrin in 2005, Polo Black’s vibrancy makes it a great Spring or Summer wear. Polo Black is only available as an Eau de Toilette.

Ralph’s Club is new to the Ralph Lauren fragrance lineup.

Ralph’s Club

If one fragrance stands as the collection’s modern standard bearer, it’s Ralph’s Club. Created by renowned French perfumer Dominique Ropion – famous for Frédéric Malle’s Vetiver Extraordinaire, Portrait of a Lady, Geranium Pour Monsieur, among others – Ralph’s Club has become the new everyday wear for many men and appears to be the most popular fragrance in the collection today.

Ralph’s Club starts with a fresh aromatic introduction, evoking an atmosphere of refined freshness before moving into a warm, woody wear.

  • Top notes: Lavandin, Clary Sage
  • Heart notes: Virginia Cedarwood
  • Base notes: Vetiver

Launched in 2021, this versatile fragrance can be worn year-round. Ralph’s Club is available as Parfum or Eau de Parfum. Ralph’s Club Elixer is a newer extension of the line, which Esquire calls “an after-party in a bottle”. If Ralph’s Club becomes your everyday scent, you might also enjoy the ambiance of a Ralph’s Club candle.

Purple Label

Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label clothing line is known for top-notch fabrics, tailored fits and understated luxury. And while the pieces are offered at a significantly higher price point, the Purple Label fragrance is comparably priced to other Ralph Lauren fragrances. A whiff of Purple Label starts with top notes of Mandarin, Coriander and Blackberry, blending citrusy brightness with the succulent sweetness of a favorite summer flavor.

  • Top notes: Mandarin, Coriander, Blackberry
  • Heart notes: Sage, Thyme
  • Base notes: Oakmoss, Musk, Mahogany, Suede

As the fragrance evolves, the heart notes of Sage and Thyme add an herbal layer, infusing Purple Label with a sense of classic masculinity. Unchanged since its introduction in 2003, Purple Label starts with citrusy brightness and hints of sweet Blackberry making this a great fragrance for warmer seasons. The fragrance culminates in a rich, traditionally masculine base and is only available as an Eau de Toilette.

Polo Sport Eau de Toilette

Designed to be worn as part of an active lifestyle, the red, white and blue bottle of Polo Sport is easily tied in many minds to Ralph Lauren’s role as Official Outfitter of the US Olympic and Paralympic Teams. For many Gen Xers and Millennials, this scent, brand, and bottle takes us back to teenage years when Polo Sport was a popular and aspirational fragrance for many.

  • Top notes: Aldehydes, Mint, Bergamot, Neroli
  • Heart notes: Seagrass, Ginger, Rose, Jasmine
  • Base notes: Sandalwood, Musk, Amber, Cedar

A youthful, active, summertime wear, this complicated fragrance is nostalgic for many, but don’t be surprised if some combination of your nose and product composition have changed a bit over the years.

Polo Safari

Safari for Men, introduced to the collection in 1992 following the release of Safari (for women) in 1990, captures the essence of adventure and exploration. This woody scent, only available as an Eau de Toilette, embodies the spirit of the great outdoors, evoking images of vast savannas and untamed wilderness.

  • Top notes: Lavender, Bergamot, Coriander, Green Notes, Lemon
  • Heart notes: Carnation, Tarragon, Cinnamon, Rose
  • Base notes: Leather, Oakmoss, Musk, Patchouli, Cedar, Amber

After opening with a bouquet burst of floral and green notes, Safari for Men settles into a warm and comforting embrace to form one of the more traditional fragrances in the family.

Polo Earth Collection

Launched in 2022, the newer Polo Earth line represents Ralph Lauren’s commitment to nature and sustainability. From lighter, reusable glass bottles to use of sustainable ingredients, the Polo Earth Collection is about more than what’s inside the bottle. Designed for individuals who appreciate not only the art of fragrance but also have a deep commitment to sustainability, Polo Earth is for those seeking a scent aligning with their values.

Polo Earth Eau de Toilette, with medium longevity and sillage, serves as the jumping off point for the new line, but the core scent is flanked by Polo Earth Provencial Sage, Polo Earth Antilles Vetiver and Polo Earth Moroccan Neroli. The entire line is gender-neutral, but try the Polo Earth Antilles Vetiver if looking for a scent that may lean a little more masculine. Earth Hand and Body Lotion is also available to continue the scent through your personal care products.

A selection of vintage Ralph Lauren men’s fragrances.

Vintage Ralph Lauren Fragrance Selection

Just as select vintage pieces develop beautiful patinas with age, there is something special about vintage fragrances. You may imagine times, places and occasions the fragrance was used in decades past or vintage scents may remind you of a loved one. For those with a deep love of Ralph Lauren fragrances, there is a passionate market for vintage examples of both current fragrances as well as those no longer in production.

Most Ralph Lauren fragrances have had various flankers throughout the years. Polo Ultra Blue and Polo Blue Gold Blend, for example, are discontinued despite only launching in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Some of these recently discontinued flankers can still be found in stores, often at discount retailers. For older bottles, you’ll need to search the secondhand retail markets – eBay is a great place to start – where you will find bottles both opened and unopened. We’ve highlighted three of the most popular vintage bottles below.

For those wondering, fragrances can evolve and exhibit some evaporation, but most quality fragrances will change very little with age. Having said that, sometimes the production and makeup of the fragrances themselves change and you’ll find endless arguments online about how vintage versions of modern fragrances are much more desirable (and better smelling) than their modern counterparts. Of course, it’s all subjective, but I will say that there is something to be said for vintage formulations.

Polo Green (Vintage)

The Classic Polo Ralph Lauren, or Polo Green, is one of the most common, but also one of the most sought after, vintage bottles on the secondary market due to its enduring fandom and ubiquity. What comes out of the vintage bottle isn’t exactly the same fragrance as you can find on store shelves today as the scent has evolved over time. Ralph Lauren partnered with different producers of the scent over previous decades, and you may notice vintage bottles touting Warner or Cosmair production.

The first transition from Warner to Cosmair didn’t dramatically alter the scent, with both characterized by a signature “wet moss” accord. However, the modern era introduced a slightly different scent. A crucial factor in this evolution were regulatory changes, specifically the reduction of oakmoss due to allergy concerns. The International Fragrance Association imposed regulations in 2003 that limited oakmoss to 0.1% in scents. With the older expressions noticeably more woodsy thanks to the oakmoss, your exact experience will largely depend on the age of your vintage find.

  • Top notes: Pine, Lavender, Juniper, Artemisia, Bergamot, Cumin, Basil
  • Heart notes: Coriander, Marjoram, Jasmine, Carnation, Geranium, Thyme, Rose
  • Base notes: Oakmoss, Patchouli, Leather, Cedar, Amber, Musk, Frankincense

You’ll notice that these notes are similar to today’s Polo Eau de Toilette, but with somewhat different balance and a little additional depth. I was lucky enough to find a bottle from the original run in 1978 and I can tell you with certainty that it is a much different fragrance than the one you can pick up today.

Polo Crest

Introduced in 1991 but now discontinued, Polo Crest once stood as an alternative to Polo Green. Lighter top and heart notes led to a base that omitted the characteristic Tobacco and Leather elements.

  • Top notes: Citrus, Basil
  • Heart notes: Jasmine
  • Base notes: Patchouli, Oakmoss

While Polo Crest didn’t attain the same widespread popularity, it has found favor among those who appreciate its lighter and more nuanced approach. I have a bottle in my collection and enjoy its very distinct old school masculine scent.

Monogram

Monogram had a short run from 1985-1987. This complicated fragrance isn’t for everyone, but many in the vintage fragrance forums absolutely rave about the stuff.

  • Top notes: Amber, Siam, Benzoin, Bergamot, Vanilla, Jasmine
  • Heart notes: Green Notes, Sandalwood, Cedar, Leather
  • Base notes: Lavender, Oakmoss, Musk, Patchouli, Spicy Notes

This long-lasting fragrance with heavy sillage is a workhorse few scents today can match. As there are fewer Monograms than Polo Greens or Polo Crests on markets like eBay today, if you come across a bottle, consider picking it up to see if you fall in with the crowd that cherishes every whiff of Monogram. The beautiful mid-Century bottle must have served as inspiration for both the Purple Label and possibly Ralph’s Club design used today.

I would have to say that Monogram is an acquired taste. Much like cilantro or black licorice, you’re either going to love it or hate it. It’s a very, let’s say, dated scent – certainly smells like the mid-1980s – but you’ll have to decide whether or not that uniqueness is something you’d like to incorporate into your fragrance lineup.

The Bottom Line

From the iconic Polo Green that defined an era to the modern interpretations embracing sustainability, each scent carries the essence of Ralph Lauren’s distinct style. Whether you are an everyday wearer of fragrances or considering stepping into something for the first time, the Ralph Lauren collection offers something for everyone.

Consider stopping by a fragrance store to experience these scents yourself and find something that’s right for you.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa

Brian Sacawa is the Founder of He Spoke Style and one of the original men’s style influencers. Since 2013, his goal has remained the same: to provide men the advice and inspiration they need to dress well, develop their personal style, and gain more confidence. Brian’s interest and passion for men’s style and luxury watches has led to his writing for The Robb Report, The Rake, and Sotheby’s and he has been quoted on menswear in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Today.com, Brides Magazine, and the Huffington Post. He lives in the woods north of Baltimore with his wife, Robin, kitties Nick and Nora, and German Shepherd/Collie mix Charlie.

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Edited by Rachel Butler

Photography by Rob McIver

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