8 Best 1990s Colognes: A Nostalgic Look Back

Let’s take a trip back to the 1990s. A time when men’s fragrances took a bold turn, blending citrus notes with a dash of eau de parfum to create that signature scent every guy craved. Stars weren’t just on our screens; with names like Larry Paul Scott making fragrances like Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani a household name.

$65.00$17.39 ($5.27 / Fl Oz)
$75.00 ($17.86 / Fl Oz)
$24.48$22.99 ($9.20 / Fl Oz)
$65.00$17.39 ($5.27 / Fl Oz)
$75.00 ($17.86 / Fl Oz)
03/07/2024 11:14 am GMT

Compared to today’s scents, the 90s had a distinct style, often leaning towards fresh, invigorating aromas. Dive with me into this nostalgic journey, and let’s rediscover the essence of that era.

What Was The Most Popular Men’s Perfume in the 90s?

Best Men's Perfume in the 1990s

The title of the most popular men’s perfume in the 1990s was undoubtedly Calvin Klein’s CK One

This fragrance broke boundaries with its fresh, unisex scent, which effortlessly captured the essence of the decade’s progressive spirit. Its widespread acclaim and sales figures stand as proof of its iconic status.

Top 8 Classic 1990s Men’s Colognes

1. Calvin Klein – CK One

Calvin Klein CK One

Following the success of Calvin Klein Eternity and Obsession, Klein introduced a fragrance in 1994 that would become a symbol of the decade: CK One. 

This eau de parfum was groundbreaking, not just for its scent but for its daring approach as a unisex fragrance. Calvin Klein captured the spirit of the 90s youth, who were all about breaking boundaries and expressing themselves.

CK One
CK One. Photo taken by Joe Manktelow-Pimm. Copyright: 7Gents ©.

It’s a clean scent, with a well-balanced blend of citrus and floral notes, making it versatile for both work and play. Most fans of the fragrance distinctly remember that Kate Moss advert which just furthered elevated CK One’s status, making it a must-have for both men and women.

Trust me, even today, this is one of the best men’s colognes money can buy. Check out my full CK One review and test to learn more.

Top Notes:Bergamot, Lemon, Mandarin Orange, Papaya, Pineapple, Cardamom, Green Notes
Middle Notes:Nutmeg, Violet, Orris Root, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rose
Base Notes:Sandalwood, Amber, Musk, Cedar, Oakmoss
Calvin Klein Fragrance Notes
Calvin Klein CK One
$110.00 $104.00

Crisp citrus, subtle spice, and an amber/musk base.

This versatile fragrance works in the office and for post-work drinks.

A classic scent that still feels modern in 2024.

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03/08/2024 12:30 am GMT

2. Giorgio Armani – Acqua Di Gio

Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio

Giorgio Armani’s Acqua Di Gio burst onto the scene in 1996 and quickly became the scent of the decade for many men. Inspired by the beauty of Pantelleria, where Armani spent his vacations, this eau de parfum summed up the harmony of sweet and salty sea water, sunshine, and the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.

Acqua Di Gio
Acqua Di Gio. Photo taken by Joe Manktelow-Pimm. Copyright: 7Gents ©.

Its aquatic, aromatic scent was a real breath of fresh air, kind of like Davidoff Cool Water (which I’ve also done a review on), so you can wear it either during the daytime or on romantic evenings. The fragrance wasn’t just about smelling good; it was about feeling good, capturing the meaning of freedom, fullness, and self-expression.

Top Notes:Lime, Lemon, Bergamot, Jasmine, Orange, Mandarin Orange, Neroli
Middle Notes:Sea Notes, Calone, Freesia, Cyclamen, Hyacinth, Mignonette, Coriander, Peach, Rosemary, Rose, Jasmine
Base Notes:White Musk, Cedar, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Amber
Giorgio Armani Fragrance Notes
Acqua Di Gio by Armani
$95.00 $64.97 ($19.11 / Fl Oz)

Balances zesty citrus and oceanic notes with a woodsy masculine base.

A top-tier summer fragrance that smells fresh and mature - a real confidence boost.

  • Refreshing Scent Profile: Acqua di Gio offers a harmonious blend of citrus top notes with a heart of aquatic and floral scents, grounded by a woody base.
  • Elegant Packaging: The simple yet sophisticated bottle design reflects the cologne's character, making it an aesthetically pleasing addition to any collection.
  • Moderate Longevity: Lasts around 6 hours, requiring a reapplication for full-day coverage.
  • Seasonal Limitation: Less effective in colder months, as the light, aquatic scent doesn't hold up well against the stronger, muskier fragrances typically worn in winter and fall.
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03/07/2024 01:44 am GMT

3. Ralph Lauren – Polo Sport

Ralph Lauren Polo Sport

Another interesting shift in the 90s was the surge in sporty aesthetics, which Ralph Lauren’s Polo Sport cologne was right at the forefront of. After its release in 1994, this fragrance became an emblem of the active, on-the-go lifestyle many wanted during the decade. It was also a much-welcomed change from the scent that came in the green bottle of Polo.

Its lively blend and wood notes are a nod to the adventurous spirit, making it a nice option for those heading to the gym or embracing the great outdoors. The scent was a statement of vitality and fitness. 

Celebrities like Tyson Beckford, with his iconic Polo Sport ad campaigns, also solidified its place in 90s pop culture.

Top Notes:Aldehydes, Artemisia, Lavender, Mandarin Orange, Mint, Neroli, Bergamot, Lemon
Middle Notes:Cyclamen, Ginger, Seagrass, Jasmine, Geranium, Rose, Brazilian Rosewood
Base Notes:Sandalwood, Amber, Musk, Guaiac Wood, Cedar
Ralph Lauren Polo Sport Fragrance Notes
Polo Sport
$75.00 ($17.86 / Fl Oz)

A casual cologne perfect for daily wear.

Feels fresh and clean with refreshing minty notes.

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03/06/2024 07:30 pm GMT

4. Tommy Hilfiger – Tommy

Tommy Hilfiger

This is the all-American dream in a bottle. Tommy Hilfiger launched Tommy in the mid-90s to celebrate the casual coolness of the decade. With its lively blend of notes, it was the go-to scent for many young men, bringing to mind memories of sunny days, road trips, and the freedom of being young.

Tommy EDT by Tommy Hilfiger. Photo taken by Joe Manktelow-Pimm. Copyright: 7Gents ©

Its popularity wasn’t just limited to the masses; celebrities (like Britney Spears) were known to be fans, giving it an even broader appeal. Tommy was more than just a cologne; it was a cultural phenomenon, representing a generation that was confident, carefree, and shamelessly themselves.

Top Notes:Mint, Lavender, Grapefruit, Bergamot
Middle Notes:Cranberry, Rose, Granny Smith Apple
Base Notes:Amber, Cactus Flower, Cotton Flower
Tommy Hilfiger Fragrance Notes
Tommy by Tommy Hilfiger for Men
$31.42 $29.05 ($8.54 / Fl Oz)
  • Vibrant Scent Profile: A refreshing blend of mint, lavender, grapefruit, and bergamot, with heart notes of cranberry, rose, and apple, providing a lively, youthful aroma.
  • Value for Money: Reasonably priced between $40-$60 for a 3.4 oz bottle, offering a quality fragrance experience without a high-end price tag.
  • Limited Longevity: Lasts about 5-6 hours, requiring a potential refresh for all-day wear, which might not be ideal for extended outings or busy schedules.
  • Seasonal and Occasion Limitations: Not well-suited for formal events or colder weather, as its light aroma might not stand out in such conditions.
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03/07/2024 08:59 pm GMT

5. Hugo Boss – Hugo

Hugo Boss

When Hugo by Hugo Boss launched in 1995 it became an instant classic in the world of men’s fragrances. This eau de parfum was designed for the forward-thinking man, one who wasn’t afraid to show his character and embrace change. 

It was particularly popular as its aromatic green scent was different from most 90s fragrances, giving a head-turning aroma that was both modern and timeless.

Hugo Man - Hugo Boss
Hugo Man by Hugo Boss. Photo taken by Joe Manktelow-Pimm. Copyright: 7Gents ©.

I’d say that this fragrance reflected the time’s urban and contemporary spirit. With its unique blend of notes, Hugo was perfect for both day and night, making it the signature scent for the modern man. At the time, you simply had to have Hugo as it was a statement of confidence and charisma.

Top Notes:Lavender, Green Apple, Mint, Grapefruit, Basil
Middle Notes:Carnation, Sage, Geranium, Jasmine
Base Notes:Patchouli, Fir, Cedar
Hugo Boss Fragrance Notes
Hugo Man by Hugo Boss
$74.00 $61.00 ($24.40 / Fl Oz)

A crowd-pleasing and uncomplicated fragrance that is equally at home in the office as a dinner date.

Perfect for fragrance rookies looking for a safe bet.

  • Long-lasting scent with around 6 to 7 hours of durability, suitable for full-day wear
  • Unique scent profile with a blend of green apple, sage, and cedarwood, offering freshness and depth
  • Not suitable for formal events or colder winter months due to its light, fresh character
  • May not appeal to those who prefer more understated, subtle fragrances
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03/06/2024 04:14 pm GMT

6. Issey Miyake – L’eau D’Issey Pour Homme

Issey Miyake L'eau D'Issey Pour Homme

Issey Miyake’s L’eau D’Issey Pour Homme, was another men’s fragrance that truly captured the soul of the 90s. It was a scent that spoke sophistication, elegance, and modernity, drawing inspiration from the purity of water. The result of this is a well-balanced blend of contrasts – sharp and fresh yet warm and woody.

Much like Hugo Boss, L’eau D’Issey Pour Homme became a favorite for many men because of its distinctive scent profile, so it’s ideal if you’re seeking a scent that’s unique, memorable, and versatile. I’d use it for both daytime events and evening soirees.

Photo taken by Joe Manktelow-Pimm. Copyright: 7Gents ©

Besides just being a fragrance, L’eau D’Issey Pour Homme is an experience and an unforgettable journey into the world of refined aromas and timeless elegance.

Top Notes:Yuzu, Bergamot, Lemon, Tarragon
Middle Notes:Nutmeg, Water Lily, Lily of the Valley, Reseda
Base Notes:Cedar, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Amber, Musk
Issey Miyake Fragrance Notes
Issey Miyake by L'eau d'issey Pour Homme
$55.00 $30.80 ($12.32 / Fl Oz)
  • Long-lasting Fragrance: Offers 7 to 8 hours of consistent scent, ideal for day-long wear without reapplication.
  • Versatile Scent Profile: The blend of yuzu, cypress, blue lotus, and lily makes it suitable for a variety of occasions, particularly excelling in formal and spring/summer settings.
  • Not Ideal for Casual Use: May be too sophisticated for everyday, casual environments.
  • Less Effective in Cold Weather: The aquatic and floral notes don't hold up as well in colder months, potentially limiting its versatility in year-round use.
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03/07/2024 05:59 pm GMT

7. Blue Jeans – Versace

Blue Jeans Versace

Just because Blue Jeans is one of my last entries doesn’t mean it wasn’t one of the top men’s fragrances of the 90s. 

This eau de toilette was pretty much the 90s in a bottle. Besides the bottle itself having a very unique design, Versace Blue Jeans had a vibrant aroma that spoke to the young and the young-at-heart. Just think about a delicate blend of warmth and freshness; that’s the scent profile that made it an instant hit.

Photo taken by Joe Manktelow-Pimm. Copyright: 7Gents ©

Whether it was a casual day out or a night on the town, Blue Jeans was the go-to fragrance for those looking to make a lasting impression. It wasn’t just about smelling good, it was about feeling unstoppable.

Top Notes:Juniper Berries, Citrus, Basil, Anise, Bergamot, Brazilian Rosewood
Middle Notes:Carnation, Fir, Lavender, Jasmine, Sage, Heliotrope, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rose
Base Notes:Iris, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Musk, Patchouli, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Amber
Blue Jeans Fragrance Notes
Versace Blue Jeans
$24.48 $22.99 ($9.20 / Fl Oz)
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03/06/2024 07:09 pm GMT

8. Nautica – Nautica For Men

Nautica For Men

Nautica For Men, introduced in the early ’90s, did a good job of representing the adventurous spirit of the sea. 

This fragrance, crafted by the renowned brand Nautica, was a carefully curated blend of freshness and masculinity. It draws inspiration from the vastness of the ocean, transporting the wearer to sun-kissed shores and the thrills of open waters.

Photo taken by Joe Manktelow-Pimm. Copyright: 7Gents ©

Its aromatic profile was a hit among men who wanted a scent that was both invigorating and polished. Perfect for daytime wear, especially during the warmer months, Nautica For Men is a recognition of the timeless allure of the sea and the adventures it promises.

Top Notes:Aldehydes, Lime, Coriander, Cypress, Cinnamon, Tarragon, Clary Sage, Neroli, Bergamot, Lemon
Middle Notes:Cyclamen, Jasmine, Caraway, Rose, Geranium
Base Notes:Sandalwood, Amber, Patchouli, Musk, Oakmoss, Cedar
Nautica Fragrance Notes
Nautica Voyage
$65.00 $17.39 ($5.27 / Fl Oz)

Fruity and sweet with a masculine cedarwood base.

A calming and aquatic scent perfect for casual good vibes in summer.

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03/07/2024 11:14 am GMT


What was the cheapest cologne in the 90s?

In the 1990s, there were several affordable colognes, but brands like Aspen stood out for their budget-friendly prices. Aspen’s cologne was accessible to many and offered pretty decent scents without breaking the bank, which made them quite popular fragrances for everyday wear.

What made 1990s colognes different from the fragrances of previous decades?

For the larger part, 1990s colognes shifted from the heavy, musky scents of the 80s to fresher, aquatic notes. This change reflected the decade’s cultural and fashion trends. The 90s fragrances, and their ad campaigns, emphasized individuality and self-expression. This led to the introduction of groundbreaking unisex scents and the embracing of a wider range of aromas.

How did the fashion and cultural trends of the 1990s influence cologne choices?

The ’90s was a time of diverse fashion and cultural movements, from grunge to hip-hop to minimalism. These trends influenced cologne choices by promoting scents that came across as fresh, rebellious, or sophisticated, mirroring the wide-ranging styles and attitudes of the era.

Related posts:

What’s Changed?

We updated this guide in January 2024 to reflect the most recent pricing information.

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