One of the bigger enablers for a perfume enthusiast is the semi-ghetto establishment known as TJ Maxx. Unfortunately for me (and my wallet), for the past year I’ve worked next door to one. Normally it’s a bunch of crap inside, Colors, Wings, Adidas Rehash 7,652. The usual bargain bin stuff. But ours gets some more exotic stuff in every now and then, from YSL to Thierry Mugler to some of the more popular Kenneth Cole products (always for women sadly, I’m snapping up the first KC Reaction for Men I see there).
So I wasn’t terribly surprised when they received about six 100mL bottles of Tommy Bahama Set Sail St. Barts (hereafter abbreviated to SSSB). Having no idea what to expect I whip out the iPhone and get on Basenotes to research it a bit, and I find top notes of citrus, tequila and lime, a midsection of guava nectar and more tequila, and a base of crushed greens, “salty sea spray” accord, palm wood, and musk. Tequila gets mentioned twice? I immediately recall my limited experience with Le Boise, a rather obscure perfume from the Ginestet winery of Bordeaux, France. It was pretty much wine, and at $110 for a 100mL bottle I could pretty much splash cheap wine on my body and get much the same olfactory response (though quite messier). It was so bad my dad told me “You smell like an alcoholic,” which I am not and thus don’t want to wear it as that would incorrectly portray me. :P
One of the “party fouls” of TJ Maxx is opening up a box and spraying some on you, but I was damned sure not going to buy it blind, even semi-blind. So I spray a little bit on and go on my way back to work. Two hours later I went back and bought it, for the not-awful price of 20 bucks.
The opening burst was a bit too chemical for me, but once it settled down it was a very vibrant lime note, and you can definitely get the “sipping margaritas on the beach” vibe almost immediately. There is a progression to it, the lime starts to fall away and you’re left with a zesty citrus, salty and sweet all at once, not an easy thing to do and something I commend them for managing to pull off successfully. From there it progresses to just the base of salt/sugar and maybe some wood, I never find the musk to make that much of an appearance here. Projection is poor to fair, longevity is decent at about 6 hours for the whole progression.
But it’s leaving me, despite getting mostly a good review. The stuff is not unpleasant, by any means, but it has been completely outclassed. My new love affair in this warm-weather, tropical party type scent is Creed’s Virgin Island Water, the baby Creed, still their most recent release (at least for a little while longer until Love In Black actually starts hitting shelves). It takes the SSSB concept and elevates it to another plane. It loses some of the zest and instead offers a host of soft woods, and adds a coconut element that I do not detect in SSSB. There’s really a lot going on in VIW, and it will get it’s own review later on.
What I’m getting at, though, is for $20 Set Sail St. Barts is a fantastic alternative to Virgin Island Water. Even splitting a 250mL flacon of the Creed I was still out $55 for 50mL. They each have wonderful things going for them, and should you see it chilling at your local TJ Maxx, don’t hesitate to give it a try. I think you’ll rather like it.