Look good, smell better

Level up your outfit and scent this Valentine’s Day

spruce up your valentine's day look

Words: Buntu Ngcuka | Photography: Jonathan Kope | Styling: Akim Jardine

Oh, the things you do when you’re in love. Or lust. Going all out for date night, scrolling through every page on Superbalist.com for the perfect gift (can't decide? try a voucher), trying to book a table at that restaurant you see in all your favourite influencer’s Instastories... It’s easy to get so caught up in prepping for the perfect date that you forget what to wear.

We’ve got you — and even picked out the fragrance you need to level everything up. Our reaction to smell is primal and part of the basis of attraction (whether we’re aware of it or not). It can also be quite emotional — the olfactory nerve where smell is processed in the brain is very close to the amygdala, the part that deals with feelings and emotions. Here's how to dress and spritz for romantic success.

For the wine farm date

wine farm date look

Why this date: While Bonang might not own her own wine farm, yet, even she will tell you that it's the perfect place for a daytime date. It’s quiet, has the best gourmet food, plus you get to flex your wine knowledge.

What makes it a great look: A striped tee is always a winner in summer and the melange texture of the chinos adds a dressy feel that looks like you’ve made an effort, even though you’re going to be sitting on a picnic blanket on the grass. And you can never go wrong in a pair of Chucks in such an environment.

The fragrance you need: Cerruti 1881 Sport

And why: Complement the fresh air with the scent’s opening aquatic and citrus notes. The base notes of musk and cedarwood are long-lasting (so they won’t get lost in the daytime wind or heat) but not overpowering, which is ideal for when your daytime date turns into a night out.

For sundowners by the sea

beachside sundowners look

Why this date: Drinks with an ocean view is the perfect way to wind down after the midweek rush, so if you’re fortunate enough to be based coastally, make the most of it. You’ll also have the perfect excuse to end the date with a romantic walk on the beach.

What makes it a great look: Flip-flops aren’t an option for date night, so smarten up with a pair of leather or suede sandals. You’re already wearing white pants, so go all the way with shoes that show you've made an effort, moisturised ankles and all.

The fragrance you need: Azzaro Chrome

And why: This fragrance’s fresh citrusy opening notes will make a good first impression, but it’s the base which sports a combination of coriander, musk and sandalwood that’ll leave your partner enticed. You don’t want an aquatic scent that’ll get lost in the strong smell of the ocean, so go for whiffs of something land-based.

For the theatre date

theatre date look

Why this date: It’s a grown-up, sophisticated date that shows you have interests beyond Black Panther. Show your partner your sensitive side with a classic tear-jerker like The Colour Purple (Joburg Theatre) or go for something unexpected like Mozart & Salieri (Artscape).

What makes it a great look: There’s something sophisticated about a tonal look — a necessary feature for an artsy night out. Your partner will appreciate the chance to dress up and you’ll also get to show them how much of a gent you are by offering your jacket if the aircon is too chilly.

The fragrance you need: Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme

And why: For a cosy date like this (those theatre seats can be really close), you’ll need a scent that’s strong and alluring but not overwhelming. This Dolce & Gabbana scent has intense dry floral and tobacco notes, plus the best of the spicy kind to complement your brown-on-brown ensemble.

For celebrating singlehood with the squad

celebrating singlehood with the boys

Why this date: Turning up at your favourite club is the ideal anti-Valentine’s thing to do on Valentine’s Day. You’ll be surrounded by your friends, dancing to the best old-school jams and laughing at your exes together.

What makes it a great look: Combining smart casual essentials with an edgier re-up (the distressed denim jacket and cropped chinos) make for an interesting look if you’re going to the club. Finish it off with loafers for a smart touch to show everyone that you’re all dressed up because you and your friends are set on doing the absolute most.

The fragrance you need: Azzaro Pour Homme

And why: Fancy shoes deserve a fancy scent. This one’s aromatic and spicy composition and base notes of leather, musk, oak moss and tonka bean make it the perfect option for going H.A.M. on the dancefloor. You never know, you might end up bumping into your soulmate...

For the romantic dinner date

romantic date night look

Why this date: Few things reignite the spark in a long-term relationship better than a candlelit dinner at that restaurant you have to book for months in advance. If you're too late then a home-cooked meal where you make something fancier than your signature dish will work, too.

What makes it a great look: Shirts are one of summer’s standout pieces for dressing up or down — and the wider the collar, the better. Add a touch of street-ready charm by wearing it under a bomber jacket with a pair of dark denim. Because it’s a serious date, sneakers are a no-go, so lace-up those leather brogues you keep for special occasions. Your partner will no doubt see you in a different light.

The fragrance you need: Givenchy Gentleman

And why: Romantic dinners and aromatic fragrances go hand in hand. Elevate the atmosphere with the Givenchy scent’s pleasant notes of cinnamon, patchouli, leather, musk and vanilla. It’s like smelling like a million bucks, minus the shiny suit. Keep in mind how scent can be linked to emotions and attraction — you’ve got the great-smelling cologne, a killer outfit and delicious food. Add a whole lot of memories, a standout gift and a playlist of songs neither of you want to skip to make your partner fall in love with you all over again.

seen this?
Men's Panel Picks
New Ways to Wear Chinos
Sandal Season