Find your signature scent

Scent is a powerful thing, the perfumed envelope of memory. When I smell Gucci Rush, I'm back in a New York club I frequented in 2002, where the hostess bathed in the spicy scent. Cool Water by Davidoff is every guy who never asked me to dance in seventh grade.

Issey Miyake L'eau d'Issey is my freshman year of college and what I remember to be my first real "signature" scent. That bottle was the fanciest thing in my dorm room. And one day not so long ago I realized it was more memory than "me."

Maybe the perfume or cologne you wear is the result of a long search, and it's a part of you that you wouldn't think of changing. But if you've hung on out of habit, or are looking for a makeover that doesn't involve surgery, a huge investment or hunger, updating your scent is a simple and powerful way to change your image.

It takes a bit of hunting and a lot of trial and error, but the reward is pinpointing a scent that will not only work for you, but also eventually become a trademark, something that lingers on your collar, scarf and hair and reminds friends and admirers of you, even when you're not in the room.

In my recent challenge to find a new scent, I found one resource to be invaluable -- Lucky Scent, an L.A.-based company that sells many hard-to-find fragrances through its website, Scents can be searched by brand or type, with categories such as "floral/fruity," "warm/earthy" and "foody/gourmand."

I favor musky scents and was able to weed out options by selecting from the "musk" category, which was filled with gorgeous bottles and enticing names like "Musc Samarkind" and "Musc Bleu."

Since the test is in how the scents translate on the skin, Lucky Scent sells vials of samples for $3 to $4 each. For $15, I chose five musk scents that were delivered the next day. I fell for the Musc Bleu, a soft and woodsy musk, and found out later that Lucky Scent is the only retailer to carry it in the U.S.

Sure, you can peruse the perfume counters at a department store, but there is something special about having the samples at home and starting each day with a new one to see how it plays into your mood and lifestyle. And you're more likely to find something unexpected.

If you can't do without spritzing the little cardboard wands, Lucky Scent also has a charming bricks-and-mortar location called Scent Bar at 8327 Beverly Blvd. in L.A. (323) 782-8300. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.