Guess colognes are an excellent jumping-off point for a young gent new to colognes. At $20-30 a bottle, the best Guess colognes are a risk-free opportunity to smell your best at interviews or command confidence in the office.
Guess has a wide range, which can be a little intimidating if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Luckily for you, I’ve spent the last week trying all the Guess colognes I could get my hands on, and I’ve narrowed it down. You’re welcome.
Budget-friendly colognes are usually a little samey and safe for my tastes.
So when I come across something with signature fragrance potential for $25, I sit up and pay attention.
That’s why 1981 Los Angeles is my top pick today. Its unique plum note projects decadent, masculine confidence that I didn’t expect Guess to be capable of.
I’ll also walk you through some breezier options for summer strolls, and some minimalist fragrances for clean-cut authority in the workplace.
Let’s get into it.
Best Guess Colognes in 2022
1981 Los Angeles – Best Guess Cologne for a Statement Fragrance
Unlike some of the other colognes in this guide, 1981 Los Angeles has signature fragrance potential. It’s all due to a heavy dose of a rather unique note: plum.
1981 Los Angeles is more of an evening scent, great for nights out with friends or cuddling with your significant other.
It’s best for somebody in their late 20s/early 30s; sweet enough for the younger crowd, but with some maturity to it in the mid and base.
This primary plum accord is syrupy sweet but still manages to come off as refined and clean. It’s not super-fruity or overly sweet like some other modern men’s designer fragrances.
After 20 minutes, notes of tobacco and spice from ginger and black pepper arrive to quell the tart aspect of the plum.
This, along with bergamot, prevents the sweetness from luring 1981 Los Angeles into feminine territory.
In the base, vetiver helps add some vegetal earthiness while sandalwood lends a creamy quality.
The tobacco and amber are still present through the dry down, leaving a warm and dry scent deep into the lifetime of the fragrance.
Overall it’s a well-blended fragrance where no specific note is too loud. It’s smooth throughout its respectable 4-5 hour lifetime, too. If you’re looking for better longevity, 1981 Los Angeles lasts 7-8 hours on fabric.
It’s the perfect budget-friendly fragrance for a younger gent who wants to be asked “excuse me, what are you wearing?”.
After a couple of sprays, you’ll be oozing upper-class confidence that feels bespoke rather than “one-size-fits-all”.
I’d pitch it as a solid year rounder due to the heavy notes but mellow projection; it will emit less in the summer, more in the winter.
|Top Notes:||Black Pepper, Plum and Bergamot|
|Middle Notes:||Ginger, Mint and Geranium|
|Base Notes:||Vetiver, Sandalwood, Amber and Tobacco|
Seductive Homme – Best Guess Cologne for Younger Gents
Seductive Homme is a youthful cologne with mass appeal. It’s ideal if you’re starting with colognes and are looking for something that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s sweet and playful, harboring a little sweetness without being too feminine.
I’d recommend it for younger gents in their early 20s, but it’s not for anyone looking for a macho-man fragrance. It’s more of a pleasant unisex cologne than a masculine statement.
I can imagine a trendy guy wearing it to a party as a complement to his personality, rather than a substitute.
The powdery sweetness in the opening reminds me of Skittles, but there’s also a nice peppery spice there. These top notes fade after about an hour and dry down into a heavier amber and musk.
It’s a calming combination that I love spraying after I shower before going to bed.
Performance-wise, Seductive Homme emits powerfully for the first 2-3 hours. The next 2-3 are softer, but still noticeable.
It can withstand a full working day, and you can’t ask for much more from a cologne at such a great price point.
|Top Notes:||Mandarin Orange, Cardamom and Pink Pepper|
|Middle Notes:||Orchid, Violet Leaf and Vetiver|
|Base Notes:||Musk, Patchouli, Amber and Sandalwood|
Seductive Homme Blue – Best Guess Cologne for Date Night
Guess’s Blue offering is sort of misleading. To my nose, it’s not a “blue” type fragrance at all. It’s a combination of a sexy seductive scent with sweet freshness more in the mood of a green cologne.
It’s elegant and masculine, like the rich sweetness of a fresh unburnt cigar. It’s heavier than your typical blue fragrance, for sure.
This sort of sweetness seems to get a lot of female attention; it’s one of those fragrances that women just seem to love to be around.
The cardamom note in the opening is most noticeable and a gourmand lover’s dream. It’s sweet and woody and, bordering choco-nutty with a hint of spice.
Seductive Homme has a cozy feeling that’s perfect for a casual coffee date or movie night. It’s light enough to entice and intrigue without blowing anyone’s head off.
If you’re after a room-filling fragrance that will have all eyes on you, look elsewhere.
The projection is good for the price, projecting an arm’s length scent bubble for the first couple of hours. It’s noticeable without being too bold. If you spray a little on your clothes, you’ll get 10 hours of longevity.
|Top Notes:||Citruses, Black Pepper and Cardamom|
|Middle Notes:||Geranium and Sea Notes|
|Base Notes:||Sand, Moss, Cashmere and Woodsy Notes|
Guess by Marciano for Men – Best Guess Cologne for Sophistication and Class
If you’re looking for something dark, romantic, and warm, you’ve found it. Guess by Marciano for Men conjures images of strolling an eastern spice market with a beautiful woman you met an hour ago.
Marciano is a lightly sweetened, vanilla-led cologne that reminds me of warm honey liqueur.
It’s a little like Hugo Boss Bottled or Boss Bottled Intense if you replaced the iconic Hugo cinnamon sticks with gourmand vanilla pods.
Floral notes add a little maturity, but also prevent it from being a bonafide masculine fragrance. On a blind test, I’d guess Marciano for Men was a unisex scent.
If you like sweeter vanilla types of fragrances with a touch of spice, you’re in luck. Guess by Marciano is in the same sort of world as Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille but at a fraction of the price. It’s got a similar ‘clean’ vibe, but Marciano is more soapy than pristine.
It’s an exercise in presenting refined luxury, rather than a “blow-the-doors-off” masculinity. Perfect for situations where you want to let people know that you’re organized and look after yourself, like a job interview or work event.
Throughout the dry down the sweetness and spice mellow out, and within 5-6 hours you’re rocking a plain vanilla skin scent.
|Top Notes:||Pepper, Mandarin Orange, Violet and Spicy Notes|
|Middle Notes:||Lavender, Neroli, Rosemary and Ginger|
|Base Notes:||Ebony Wood, Musk, Patchouli, Amber and Leather|
Guess Man – Best Guess Cologne for Warm Weather
Guess Man is a fresh and easy-to-wear green cologne, perfect for spring or summer. It’s old school, but doesn’t feel out of place in 2022.
I’d recommend it for a professional in their thirties who’s looking for a warm-weather fragrance that still feels mature and masculine. It’s for the charming handsome career man, rather than the plucky upstart.
The palate revolves around a punch of pine that feels like a throwback to the 80s or 90s.
Accompanied by other classic notes of nutmeg and ginger, it’s full of fresh spiciness and zing that feels energizing and mature.
One thing to note; upon initial application, Guess Man is a bit much. You might notice a chemically “cheap” smell, like a blast of hand sanitizer alcohol.
Within a couple of minutes, this fades away and you’re ambling through the coniferous forest.
Still, it’s worth noting if you end up trying Guess Man in-store and have an immediate reaction.
After 2-3 hours the base notes start to emerge and Guess Man morphs into a very woody and musky cologne. The sandalwood in the bottom is powdery and creamy and is the best part of the whole journey.
I tend to get a full day’s use out of Guess Man, and it can last up to 10 hours if you spray a little on your collar. The projection here is good enough to pick up compliments, and you’ll only need a spray or two for indoor environments like the office or gym.
If you’re looking for something fresh and mature, but less blatant, you might want to check out Mont Blanc Starwalker. It’s quite similar but replaces spiced pine with watery bamboo for a smoother experience.
|Top Notes:||Wormwood and White Pepper|
|Middle Notes:||Ginger, Nutmeg and Lavender|
|Base Notes:||Fir, Sandalwood, Amber, Suede and Musk|
Guess Dare for Men – Best For Keeping Things Casual
Guess Dare is an opportunity to indulge in your immature instincts. It’s a playful, youthful vibe with a bit of an edge to it.
As the name suggests, this is a blend for risk-takers who aren’t afraid to shoot their shot. Those who ask for the raise; those who go up to that girl at the bar.
The opening is very peppery and bright and reminds me of a Moscow Mule in its freshness. It’s sparkling bright and suggests a young man’s fragrance. Think Lacoste pour Homme and you wouldn’t be far off.
That said, Guess Dare does stiffen up a little throughout its lifetime. Cashmere and woodsy notes enter the scene to start the transition to an interesting, creamy soft fragrance with a musky cedar dry down.
Performance is where it should be. It projects well, with moderate longevity of about 6 hours from start to finish.
While it’s versatile across a variety of situations, I’d be hesitant about recommending Guess Dare for cooler weather.
The brighter top notes aren’t serious enough for dreary days, and I’d pick something more brooding like 1981 Los Angeles.
Still, it’s a solid pick for bright and breezy coffee dates in spring or fall.
|Top Notes:||Juniper Berries, Bergamot and White Pepper|
|Middle Notes:||Cashmere, Jasmine and Geranium|
|Base Notes:||Cedar, Musk and Patchouli|
FAQ – What You Need to Know About Guess Colognes
So, What Next?
In all honesty, Guess has pleasantly surprised me. At this price range I thought I might find 1-2 passable colognes, so to find 6 I’d actually wear is a result.
1981 Los Angeles has become part of my collection, and I sometimes reach for it before colognes 5 times the price. The plum note is unique and I look forward to the higher-end houses catching on.
I’m also comfortable in recommending Guess by Marciano to any younger gent who pays a compliment when I’m wearing Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille.
The key for Vanilla-led cologne is the balance between sweetness and masculinity; Guess has succeeded by keeping things simple.
Guess focus mainly on clothing, and I’ve found that their stores tend to only have 2-3 colognes in stock at any given time.
I recommend ordering online so you don’t have to compromise (I’ve included links to the best prices I’ve found).
So, if you’re looking to broaden your cologne collection without breaking the bank, pick up a bottle or two today!