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When I set out to write this Ellen Tracy perfume review, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d always dismissed this fragrance as something bland but pleasant enough. I worked from home, so I didn’t need to worry about anyone else’s opinion or choose “inoffensive, office-safe” scents, so I didn’t. I still don’t, but I’m starting to appreciate these perfumes anyway. I was all about warm florientals and similar fragrance families.
I wasn’t far off in my initial assessment, or so I thought at first.
My tastes have been shifting lately. I still like some warmth in my fragrances once they dry, but I’m more open-minded about wearing other types of perfumes. I used to enjoy all kinds of perfumes on other people, but now I’m willing to add them to my own collection.
That’s how I ended up deciding to give Ellen Tracy perfume a try.
My Thoughts at a Glance
Well, my thoughts are a little scrambled on this one.
I’m neutral. I wouldn’t repurchase it, but I don’t hate it, either. It kept drawing me back in because it reminded me of something, and I couldn’t figure out what. I got “creamy white floral that smells clean like a bar of white Dove soap, but I can’t put my finger on what I’m smelling.”
It struck me as unremarkable because this isn’t my kind of fragrance. Someone who can’t get enough white florals may want to wear it every day because it is pretty and pleasant.
Some days, it went in a totally different direction. I could only smell cinnamon, woods, and amber. These didn’t show up at first, but as I continued to wear it every day, they did. Oddly, these were the days the perfume’s projection seemed to suffer a bit, and it stuck close to my skin. I could smell it, but it didn’t seem as powerful as it did on the days it was simply clean, pleasant, and a soapy white floral.
I wish I knew what to expect from this perfume or could figure out what makes it behave one way on Monday and another on Tuesday. It doesn’t make sense, and there’s a big difference between its two personas.
About Ellen Tracy Perfume
One of my favorite things about this perfume, other than how it probably works on just about anyone, is that there’s very little risk involved in trying it because it’s usually less than $15.00.
It’s safe to wear even on hot days, but it’ll also hold its own on cold days. It lasts, but it doesn’t overpower the room once you get past the initial spray. I can see it being a good pick-me-up fragrance, even though it’s not all that interesting (on me).
How Does It Smell?
It’s a little bit of a Jekyll and Hyde situation but far less extreme. Two things are happening in the same perfume, and they’re very different. I never know which one’s going to show up.
The Soapy, Creamy White Floral
When I spray perfume for the first time, I like to have a whole mental image pop up, like it’s a full experience. I can get swept away by rushes of times, places, memories, and beautiful creations that remind me of things I’ve never actually experienced but wish I could (Evening in Paris shocked me this way).
This one gives me none of that. The closest it gets is making me feel like I’m young, sporadically confident, and optimistic. I’m wearing a fitted, crisp white button-up shirt with 3/4 sleeves (specific, I know) and khakis. My hair is swept up in a tortoiseshell claw clip, and I’m sporting very “clean girl” makeup on my face.
The squeaky-clean image is colorless, bland, pretty, and presentable enough. Suppose we add decor to the mental image. In that case, there are definitely some fragrant, creamy white flowers in a beige-colored vase in the background. The walls are white. The floor is a light wood tone.
In other words, it’s not taking me anywhere exciting. I’m probably at an office, doing uninspiring work and dreaming of some day in the future when I can be as creative as I want and make the rules myself.
It’s still a charming fragrance and serves a purpose, but it’s not for me. (I’m sure some people will absolutely love it, and it’ll give them a different experience the first time they spray it on). I haven’t gravitated so far from the heavier, warm florals yet that this one is a “must” for me.
At one point, I noticed a pleasant, tingly note that made me think of raspberry and pepper, but it didn’t linger long. Around that time, a fleeting hint of spiciness reminded me of cologne.
It’s beautiful, feminine, light, and inoffensive. I can see how some people (interesting, lovely, brilliant people!) could love it. I can also believe this one performs much better on other people than on me because it has so much potential based on its notes–they just didn’t come through on my skin.
Older, Wiser, and Passionate
On the rare occasion that the spices, woods, and amber take the stage, I get a different mental image. I’m still in an office, but it’s big, private, and all mine. It’s got inviting brown leather chairs, gleaming (full) bookshelves along the walls, and the light’s dim like it’s nighttime. I’m working on something I’m passionate about.
I’m older, my hair’s a little disheveled (the clip’s long gone), and I’m focused on something that matters. I feel cozy and comfortable in my own skin and where I am in life. There’s confidence, but it’s more settled and relaxed, less showy than in the other version. I wouldn’t call Ellen Tracy perfume sexy, but it’s close when it smells like this.
What Did It Remind Me Of?
I had the hardest time figuring out what this reminded me of once I got past the initial few seconds after that first spray. (At that point, it smelled like baby wipes or 90s hairspray, but that passed quickly.)
After a few days with Ellen Tracy on my wrist, I finally figured it out: Donna Karan Cashmere Mist. My first thought was Estee Lauder Sensuous without all the warmth.
Then I thought of Guerlain Champs-Elysees, which I used to have and am sad I gave it away. They share some notes, but the Guerlain is much more complex and intoxicating. If you’re looking for a fragrance like this and have the budget for it, pick up the Guerlain instead.
When it’s in the spicy, warm state, it reminds me of a richer YSL Opium, a sweeter Guerlain Mitsouko, or even a peppery Chanel Coco Noir. It reminds me of a spicy cologne a man in his 30s to 50s might wear. It’s just got a similar vibe but never seems masculine.
Ellen Tracy Perfume Notes
FragranceNet lists a few notes: Peach, plum, lemon, orchid, and sandalwood. I mostly agree, though I usually don’t smell any sandalwood and think there’s more going on here than just those notes.
FragranceX takes it a little further and names more notes: Cinnamon, lemon, bergamot, hyacinth, peach, osmanthus, galbanum, green notes, plum, carnation, freesia, rose, lily-of-the-valley, ylang-ylang, jasmine, orris root, orchid, tuberose, aldehydes, tonka bean, cedar, raspberry, oakmoss, musk, amber, and sandalwood.
In this case, they almost nailed it, but if there’s cinnamon here, my nose can’t detect it for very long on most days, and it just lumps it in with a vague “cologne smell” until it leaves.
Most days, I can smell the peach, plum, green notes, freesia, lily-of-the-valley, tuberose, aldehydes, tonka bean, and maybe a tiny touch of musk. There’s very little warmth here (again–most days), which is surprising since amber and sandalwood are listed. I don’t pick up on anything distinctly spicy or powdery like I would expect after seeing carnation and orris root on the list.
On the odd day that it morphs into that spicy, warm, well-rounded version of itself, I smell the cinnamon, carnation, cedar, oakmoss, amber, and sandalwood, but none of the citrus or green notes. It’s all spices and warmth.
There was never a day I smelled all of these. It’s always one group of notes or the other, aside from the fleeting hints of spice I smelled one day as it dried down.
Why This List Is Disappointing
I wish I could smell all these notes on the same day; I wish they interacted more. At first, I felt like my bottle was missing something because the description didn’t match my experience.
I peeked at other reviews online to see if it was just me after I’d tried it for a few days. Some people smell all the cinnamon and wood, while others pick up on the creamy, soapy white flowers. It seems like almost everyone has one of two different experiences with it.
I don’t mind having a perfume that smells completely different from one day to the next as long as I know how to pull out the notes I want that day. I shy away when I don’t know what to expect.
How Does It Perform?
Ellen Tracy perfume performs like a champ. I hope you don’t hate it if you try it because it’s not going anywhere once it’s on your wrist.
The projection seemed unwieldy at first and made me think it was too much, but it settled down after about an hour and remained average for most of the day. I could still smell it on my skin the next morning, but after about 6-8 hours, I was probably the only person who would smell it. I’d catch a whiff every now and then when I moved my arm near my face, and I didn’t have to try too hard to smell it if I sniffed my wrist.
And the kicker is, it’s still soapy (when it’s in creamy floral mode)! In my experience, most fragrances dry down to a generic warm, floral scent. Not this one. Floral, maybe, but still not all that warm. My wrist smells like I just stepped out of the shower.
When it’s in spicy-warm mode, the projection starts low and builds to medium before settling there.
Ellen Tracy Perfume Pros
- The nozzle works well and sprays the perfect amount of perfume.
- It smells very fresh, clean, floral, and feminine.
- It’s also spicy and warm, just not at the same time or on the same day.
- It’s well-blended.
- The clear, sleek bottle will look good on countertops, vanities, and dressers.
- It’s inoffensive and could be worn anywhere, any time (you’d probably want something sexier for a date night, though).
- It has incredible longevity
- It has an average projection, which I prefer for this kind of scent.
- It’s inexpensive–I paid around $20.00 for almost two ounces.
- Some days, it was more interesting than others. I noticed more stages as I wore it through the day–from baby wipes to plums, peaches, and green notes. Then it was on to cologne (once) and soapy florals (that part lasted the longest). Then there were the days it was all cinnamon, amber, and sandalwood.
And the Cons
- As pretty and modern as the bottle is, I hate it. Trying to hold it in one hand to spray it onto my other wrist was challenging because the bottle is curved and has a broader base than the top. Pressing down on the nozzle to spray it almost pushed the whole bottle right out of my hand.
- It’s almost linear. Not very interesting as it progresses throughout the day. Some days, it seemed more interesting than others.
- It usually smells like a clean, soapy floral–nice, but there’s nothing to wow me.
- I don’t know what to expect when I spray this because it smells different daily, and the difference is wild.
- It’s so “nice” I feel bad trying to come up with negative things to say about it. I feel like a bully.
Other Perfumes to Try
If Ellen Tracy doesn’t work for you, there are a few others you might enjoy more. Because Ellen Tracy seems to be fresh, floral, and soapy on some and spicy and woody on others, I included both types of fragrances. I also listed perfumes with similar notes that do come across the way you’d expect them to when you read the notes.
Donna Karan Cashmere Mist
This is a clean, soapy classic full of florals and musk with which I’ve gone through phases of love and dislike. It’s the most similar to Ellen Tracy perfume on my skin. Everyone is different, though. Though its notes are similar to Ellen Tracy’s (jasmine, sandalwood, amber, and lily-of-the-valley), I don’t smell much sandalwood or amber with this one, either. However, there is a little warmth.
This is a happy white floral fragrance with a sparkling mimosa note layered on warm sandalwood. It’s one of the ones my brain was trying to make the connection with as the Ellen Tracy on my wrist nagged at me the first day.
This is a better example of the family Ellen Tracy seems to represent on my skin–white florals–because there’s more depth to it. If you’re looking for one that exaggerates the spices in Ellen Tracy because you don’t really smell those, this isn’t the one for you.
Estee Lauder Sensuous
I love Sensuous so much, but I can’t wear it because I gave a bottle to my mom for Christmas one year, and now I just associate it with her even though she’s moved on to other scents. This has white florals like Ellen Tracy, but they’re on an intoxicating, sweet, warm, woody base. I feel like Ellen Tracy should be a less sensual version of this. The projection and sillage are outstanding.
Michael Kors Sexy Amber
Here’s another clean white floral that boasts woody, amber notes you may or may not smell on your skin. It has the same type of elegance and promise of warmth that Ellen Tracy perfume does, but you might have better luck getting the complete list of notes to come out to play in this one. Sometimes, it may behave like Ellen Tracy, leaving you with another clean, floral, “nice” fragrance to wear to the office.
Clinique Calyx plays up the peach, plum, and green notes, which are part of Ellen Tracy’s make-up, too. If that’s the part that was most interesting to you, but it didn’t linger (or you’re afraid Ellen Tracy will just turn too soapy and white floral on you), give Calyx a try. It’s fresh, feminine, and fruity.
Yves Saint Laurent Opium
YSL Opium has a tendency to smell spicy but not overwhelming. If Ellen Tracy is a no-go for you because you wanted all that warmth and spice, give Opium perfume a sniff.
Where to Buy Ellen Tracy Perfume
You probably won’t find this in Ulta, Sephora, or any department store. I’ve seen it at:
Question: What does Ellen Tracy perfume smell like?
Answer: Creamy white flowers, green notes, and some soap. On most days, at least in my experience, it’s light, lovely, and feminine but very clean, and it never ventures far past that. I detect plum, peach, lily-of-the-valley, freesia, aldehydes, and tuberose. However, some days, it skips all of that and goes straight for cinnamon, amber, oakmoss, and woods.
Question: How much is Ellen Tracy perfume?
Answer: You can find 3.4 oz bottles for around $20.00, sometimes a lot less. I’ve seen 1.7 oz bottles sell for just under $10.00.
Question: Who Owns the Ellen Tracy Brand?
Answer: Ellen Tracy was sold to GMA Group in 2021.
Do I Recommend It?
Yes and no. It’s a pleasant fragrance, and people who adore creamy white florals that smell clean and soapy might want it in their collection. Those who love slightly sweet, warm fragrances with cinnamon, spices, amber, and woods might enjoy it, too. You just don’t know which one you’ll get on your skin or on a particular day.
You can’t beat the price or lasting power on this one.
Even if you like but don’t love the creamy white florals, there’s a chance you’ll have a warmer, richer experience with this perfume than I did. Maybe the woods and spices will stand out more often on your skin. Again, it’s not a substantial financial risk to try it.
So yes, try it if any of the notes sound interesting, but don’t get your hopes up too high. If all else fails, you’ll have an inoffensive, office- and- elevator-safe perfume to wear when you simply want to smell nice.