Despite being best known for their designs in jeans and underwear, Calvin Kelvin fragrances have also been popular for decades.
Since they started producing colognes in 1981, they’ve brought over 140 options to market!
I’ll step you through the best Calvin Klein colognes that have stood the test of time, as well as a couple of modern twists that bring something new to the table.
Generally, Calvin Klein fragrances are minimalist and straightforward. They appeal to the classics, with simplicity at the forefront and a “less is more” approach. CK is synonymous with a sophisticated and assertive attitude, exuding professionalism with a retro feel.
In my guide, I’ve prioritized scents that project masculinity and authority, my personal favorites, and the colognes that are most likely to generate compliments. So grab a drink and dig in!
The 7Gents Guide to the Best Calvin Klein Colognes
Best Calvin Klein Cologne for Rookies – CK One Calvin Klein
CK One is where you’ll want to start. It’s stood the test of time since 1994 but still feels fresh and modern. At the peak of its popularity 20 years ago, around 20 bottles were being sold per minute – so yeah, it was pretty popular to say the least.
It’s a versatile scent that’s equally suited to a productive day in the office as it is for an evening jaunt on the town. This is a clean and refreshing scent that’s noticeable without being too disruptive or controversial.
On the top notes, we’ve got bright citrus in the form of lemon and mandarin orange. The heart is more floral, with violet and jasmine at the fore.
It’s all rooted in a base of amber and musk, with a light spiciness from a subtle nutmeg accord. There’s a subtle green tea in the dry down too, if you’re looking for it.
This is a great choice for an early twenties professional or a switched-on student looking for something sharp and youthful, but not at the expense of sophistication.
Best for: Getting started. CK One is budget-friendly and will take you on a tour of Calvin Klein’s most popular notes.
|Top notes:||Lemon, Green Notes, Bergamot, Pineapple, Mandarin Orange, Cardamom and Papaya|
|Middle notes:||Lily-of-the-Valley, Jasmine, Violet, Nutmeg, Rose, Orris Root, and Freesia|
|Bottom notes:||Green Accord, Musk, Cedar, Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Green Tea, and Amber|
Best for Calvin Klein Cologne for Luxury – CK One Gold Calvin Klein
This reboot is based on a scent first released way back in 1994, and it doesn’t take a genius to see why they brought it back.
Gold is juicy and energetic, using atypical accords to produce a fragrance that is invigorating if a little unusual. Fig, bergamot, and sage probably shouldn’t work, but there’s enough floral sweetness from violet and jasmine to round out some of these stiffer notes.
The opening lasts around thirty minutes and is a perfect balance of tart fruits and sweet berries. It’s all underpinned by a warm guaiac woodiness that verges on creamy vanilla- so don’t let a long list of fruits give you the impression this is overwhelmingly tangy.
If I had one complaint, it’s that Gold’s longevity is not brilliant. In my experience, you won’t get much projection 3 or 4 hours after the initial application. As such, you might want to treat this more as a booster to be applied throughout the day rather than a set and forget.
Best for: Glitz and glamor. This velvety fragrance will make you feel like a million bucks- and smell like it, too. Opulence and luxury reign supreme here, and this scent will give off the impression that you can put your money where your mouth is.
|Top notes:||Fig, Bergamot, and Sage|
|Middle notes:||Neroli, Jasmine, and Violet|
|Base notes:||Vetiver, Guaiac Wood and Patchouli|
Best for Calvin Klein Cologne for Crowd Pleasing – CK Everyone Calvin Klein
Everyone is a fragrance with a point to prove, quite literally.
It’s fairly neutral, but deliberately so. The whole idea here is that no matter who you are or what you do, this is a scent that’s going to be compatible.
Calvin Klein positions it as “a genderless scent for today that celebrates the infinite freedom of self-expression”, and it certainly delivers on that front.
All of the accords here are pleasant, popular, and undaunting. Forest trees, salty sea breeze, and a twist of citrus fruit all coexist in moderation here.
It’s an uncomplicated and clean mineral-aquatic scent that you’ll struggle to find any objections to. A stellar combination of neutral meets natural.
Everyone is clean not just in scent, but technically, too. It’s made from naturally-derived alcohol and is entirely vegan, housed in a recyclable glass bottle that comes enveloped in an elastic logo band that can be worn as an up-cycled bracelet.
It’s not going to win any awards for being the most adventurous bottle out there, but if you want a safe bet and to make a bit of a difference, this could be the way to go.
Best for: Broad appeal and a safe bet. Everyone delivers on its promise to be an inoffensive fragrance without threatening to stray into bland territory.
|Top notes:||Orange Oil and Ginger|
|Middle notes:||Watery Notes and Tea|
|Base notes:||Musk, Cedar, Amber and Patchouli|
Best Calvin Klein Cologne for Romance – Obsession for Men Calvin Klein
Obsession for men is nostalgically referred to as “’80s in a bottle”, capturing the hedonism and allure of the decade. It’s an opulent and provocative fragrance and is powerfully masculine despite being inspired by a women’s fragrance of the same name.
It opens up with top notes of mandarin and bergamot, before moving into an exotically spiced heart enveloped in myrrh, lavender, and sage. There’s substantial wood and musk in the base notes which differentiate it from its feminine cousin and give the composition some sensual growl.
As the name suggests, girls go nuts for Obsession. If I feel like I haven’t been complimented on my scent for a couple of days, this is one of the bottles I’ll reach for to put that right.
The issue here is that the longevity could use some work; I struggle to notice the scent 3-4 hours after application. That said, the scent produced for that time is more than worth the hassle of reapplication.
Best for: Making new friends. There’s something about obsession that girls just can’t compute – in a good way. Handle with care.
|Top notes:||Cinnamon, Lavender, Coriander, Mandarin Orange, Lime, Bergamot, and Grapefruit|
|Middle notes:||Myrrh, Nutmeg, Carnation, Brazilian Rosewood, Pine Tree, Sage, Jasmine, and Red Berries|
|Base notes:||Amber, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Musk, Patchouli, and Vetiver|
Best Calvin Klein Cologne for Nightlife – Dark Obsession Calvin Klein
Dark Obsession builds on the success of its popular predecessor, Obsession – but steps things up from romance to pure seduction.
Like Obsession, it harnesses a citrusy and fresh opening while wood and musk is also abundant. But, Dark Obsession smells thicker, with new accords of espresso, chocolate, and rugged leather – plus a little smokiness in the base.
This is rounded out by rich Madagascar vanilla beans, which reminds me of Tom Ford’s Tobacco and Vanille. It’s as though the fragrances are long-lost siblings, despite the Calvin Klein offer being just a fraction of the price.
Like Obsession, longevity could use a little work. However, the smell and the price point more than make up for that.
If you’re looking for a moody, brooding scent that’s perfect for fall or winter, look no further.
Best for: Quiet sophistication. Dimly lit rooms and covert liaisons deserve a scent that’s equally mysterious.
|Top notes:||Guarana, Wormwood, and Green Mandarin|
|Middle notes:||Balsam Fir, Clary Sage, and Vetiver|
|Base notes:||Madagascar Vanilla, Suede, and Labdanum|
Best Calvin Klein Cologne for the Connoisseur – Calvin Calvin Klein
Now we come to the holy grail of Calvin Klein colognes. The real OG. The Big Daddy.
Calvin was released in 1981 and has been discontinued in the late ’90s, but if you can get your hands on a bottle you might as well have stumbled on liquid gold.
Well-integrated floral and soapy lather notes combine to radiate a clean and natural ambiance, with an underpinning of lush green base notes that will last well into the evening. There’s freshness here too in top notes of uplifting herbs and lemon verbena sparkling alongside a pleasant tarragon bitterness.
The longevity here is second to none- which is just as well, considering how difficult and costly it will be for you to replenish your supply.
It oozes class with a suave, retro muskiness. This is a very serious scent that a CEO might wear, exuding confidence without being brash and obtrusive.
Calvin is a finely tuned and well-balanced fragrance that communicates finesse and self-assuredness. At this point, it’s a Hall-of-Famer in the history of men’s colognes.
I adore it, and if you’re lucky enough to ever get a chance to experience Calvin I’m sure you will too.
Best for: The unicorn hunter. Calvin is increasingly difficult to come by, but those who can find it will be handsomely rewarded.
|Top notes:||Chamomile, Neroli, Bergamot, Mandarin Orange and Lemon|
|Middle notes:||Tarragon, Geranium, Cinnamon, Orange Blossom, and Lemon Verbena|
|Base notes:||Patchouli, Sandalwood, Musk, and Vetiver|
Best Calvin Klein Cologne for Summer – CK ONE Summer 2021 Calvin Klein
CK One Summer is a yearly aquatic release that just screams day trips to the beach. It’s marketed as a unisex scent, but don’t let that put you off. There’s not a shade of femininity here, it’s just an energizing blend that appeals across the board.
Sweet and bitter top notes of lemon and grapefruit precede a heart of rhubarb, eucalyptus, and watermelon.
The bottle itself is just as wavey as the scent. Don’t worry, you’re not going blind. This bottle has a distorted font that mimics the visual effect of a heatwave. For a touch of personalization, it comes with a set of summer stickers you can use to customize the bottle.
Best for: Hitting the beach. CK One Summer is perfect if you’re an easy-going and optimistic sort of guy. This fragrance is just desperate to catch some waves- and maybe sink a cocktail or two.
|Top Notes:||Watery Notes, Lemon and Grapefruit|
|Middle Notes:||Rhubarb, Watermelon, and Eucalyptus|
|Base Notes:||White Woods, Ambroxan, and Peach|
Calvin Klein Cologne FAQ
So, What Should You Do Next?
Calvin Klein have certainly positioned themselves as a major player in men’s colognes. They definitely deserve to be taken seriously alongside the ‘premium’ brands. Why not start with one of our picks today?
I always suggest my best Calvin Klein cologne, CK One, as a good place to start.
[icon name=”flag” prefix=”fas”] Interested in more men’s tips? Check out these guides: