Hey there! Welcome to my review of the best 1970s cologne for men.
After more than 30 hours of researching the most popular and well-loved colognes from the 1970s, I was able to locate five that you can enjoy wearing.
Highlighting their scent notes, performance quality, and availability, these are by far the best colognes that have stood the test of time.
You don’t have to conform to current scent trends. Choose one of these colognes if you’re looking for a timeless scent unlike today’s scent standards.
Ready to find your favorite retro cologne fragrance?
Let’s do it!
Top 5 Men’s Colognes from the 1970s
Unlike present day colognes that can be worn by men or women, cologne scents from the 1970s were highly masculine fragrances that women would likely prefer not to wear.
As you’ll notice from this list, scent notes gravitated towards deep woods and fresh pines. Musk was another popular note.
During this time, men were “manly,” and they showcased their chest and facial hair to prove it. The traditional (stereotypical?) definition of 1970s manliness is reflected by their scent options, and you’ll find them ranked according to what’s still popular today.
1. Most Iconic 1970s Cologne: Polo by Ralph Lauren Eau de Toilette Spray
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There’s no denying the Polo was the most memorable men’s cologne of the 1970s. Its iconic evergreen hue glass bottle with gold trim was likely in many of our father’s and grandfather’s fragrance collections.
First released in 1978, it is reflective of the high-class sporting lifestyle. Polo is a heady wood fragrance with an amber and musk finish. The fragrance layers are extensive.
- Juniper berries
- Artemisia herb
- Pine tree needles
As you can see there are a lot of fresh, peppery, and woody notes. Leather, pepper, and pine are at the heart of this fragrance with hints of sweet herbal notes from chamomile. As it dries down, you’ll smell even more woods along with complex patchouli and vetiver. It wouldn’t be a 1970s fragrance without the addition of musk.
Polo is still produced by Ralph Lauren and is available in multiple sizes: 2 oz, 4 oz, and 8 oz. You might also find smaller sample bottles here and there online.
Sometimes vintage fragrances will decrease in price over time but not so with Polo. Demand is still high for this fragrance, making the 8 oz bottle over $120 USD and the bottle half that size cost close to $100USD.
You can find slightly lower prices on Amazon from time to time but when purchasing directly from Ralph Lauren, don’t expect the price to vary much from what’s seen here.
Although this fragrance can be worn daily, the fragrance notes are best for fall and winter use.
- Timeless classic
- Complex masculine fragrance
- Still readily available for purchase
- Same original scent after all these years
- Scent combination might be overbearing for some
- Price hasn’t decreased over time
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2. Best Cologne and Aftershave: Jovan Musk for Men by Coty
- Carnation, Amalfi Lemon, Lime And Pepper
- Lavender, Amber, Mint And Spices
- Woodsy Notes And Musk
- Product Packaging May Vary
Released in the early 1970s and more affordable than Polo, is the memorable Jovan Musk for Men. An 8 oz bottle is half the price of Polo. This scent is also not as heady, so it can be worn year-round if you prefer.
One thing to note is that this is an aftershave and cologne . In addition to helping you smell nice, there are protective benefits to using Jovan Musk for Men. If applied after shaving, you can prevent skin irritation and dryness.
The downfall to this is that there is less fragrance oil added to aftershave colognes. Therefore, the scent won’t last as long, and you’d have to reapply it periodically throughout the day.
An old tagline for this fragrance was, “It’s what attracts.” This phrasing was increasingly common in the 1970s and apparently, it’s still true.
Scent notes are primarily woodsy with musk. The top layer includes black pepper, lime, Amalfi lemon, and carnation. At the heart of Jovan Musk for Men is lavender, amber, spices, and mint. On the base layer, you’ll experience woodsy notes along with musk.
As you can see, musk was a common base note ingredient during the 1970s.
- Also an aftershave
- Same genuine scent
- More affordable than some vintage colognes
- Great value for the price
- Scarcity raises prices
- You may not need the moisture protection
- Won’t last as long
3. Best Musk-Free 1970s Cologne: Grey Flannel Eau de Toilette Spray by Geoffrey Beene
- Packaging for this product may vary from that shown in the image above
- Grey Flannel
- Men's - Toilet Waters - Eau de Toilette
- It is recommended for romantic wear
Released by Geoffrey Beene in 1976, Grey Flannel is a luxuriously woodsy fragrance. If you’re not inclined to like musk, then you might prefer Grey Flannel over the previous two scents.
Although there aren’t any musk notes, Grey Flannel is still slightly powdery due to the presence of iris and violet heart notes.
As an eau de toilette, this fragrance will last for most of the day into the evening but might peter out by night. It can be worn for most of the year but might be a little too strong for hot summer days.
Let’s look at the scent accords. Your initial impression will include resinous galbanum notes, combined with petitgrain, neroli, bright lemon, and the punchy bergamot.
At the heart you’ll experience violet, iris, geranium, sage, rose, narcissus, and the sweet and airy mimosa plant.
Dry down notes include cedar, vetiver, oak moss, almond, and tonka bean. What I find interesting is that tonka bean was used decades ago because it’s been resurging in recent years as if it were new to the fragrance industry.
Grey Flannel is still a manly fragrance, but it’s softer and more refined. I didn’t expect the heart notes to be comprised of so many floral notes, but the woodsy and complex base notes balance out the middle.
- Lovely, sophisticated fragrance
- Affordable price
- Can be worn year-round
- Uniquely classic scent
- Not as intense as the other colognes
- Lacks “traditional” 70s musk
4. Most Fresh Smelling 1970s Cologne for Men: Paco Rabanne Pour Homme
- THE CLASSIC COLOGNE. The designer's namesake scent appears with notes of rosemary, clary sage, and Brazilian rosewood, easing into notes of lavender, tonka bean, and geranium, and drying with hints of oakmoss, honey, musk, and amber
- ANYTHING BUT SIMPLE. Athough this cologne adopts a timeless, masculine cologne scent, the exciting profile of notes blends together in a unique, startlingly enticing manner
- TIMELESS PACKAGING. Paco Rabanne arrives in a sleek, quintessentially classic glass bottle.
- INTENSE, LONG-LASTING SCENT. Excite and enthrall your senses with a fougere, aromatic fragrance that emanates all day
- ALWAYS CLASSIC, YET NEVER DULL. Since 1966, Francisco "Paco" Rabanne has innovated fashion and fragrance. Known for a love of the unconventional, the storied fashion House infuses classic, timeless fragrance notes with unique and delicious twists.
An earthy fougère fragrance, this eau de toilette is just as memorable as the last three we’ve covered.
Fougère translates into “fern” from the French language. While there might not be fern notes in a fougère fragrance, the overall essence is reminiscent of the sweet and woody dampness you’d experience from a bed of ferns.
This spray is moderately affordable and was first released in 1973. It’s a fresh scent that can be worn daily, although maybe not on hot summer days. Depending on the temperature and your body chemistry, it might last into the evening.
Scent notes include Brazilian rosewood, clary sage, and rosemary as your initial impression. In the middle you have tonka bean, lavender, and geranium. Base notes include oakmoss, amber, honey, and musk.
So, this scent begins and ends with strong wood notes with the spiciness of tonka bean in the middle. Sage, rosemary, and lavender add levity.
- Fresh but still very noticeable
- Reasonably priced
- Smells very close to the original scent
- Very masculine fragrance
- Might be too forceful for some people
- Kinda smells like soap
5. Most Spicy Sweet 1970s Men’s Cologne: Givenchy Gentlemen for Men
- Introduced by Givenchy in 1975 GENTLEMAN
- GENTLEMAN is a luxurious oriental woody fragrance
- It is recommended for evening wear
- Packaging for this product may vary from that shown in the image above
- This item is not for sale in Catalina Island
First introduced in 1974, Gentlemen for Men by Givenchy is a sweet aromatic woodsy fragrance. It’s probably best worn in the evening during fall or winter. Cool spring nights are also acceptable.
Unfortunately, the name of this fragrance is confusing. Apparently, Givenchy overuses the term “Gentleman” when naming fragrances. So, if you want this classic version, you have to read product descriptions carefully.
There are a lot of interesting and surprising fragrance ingredients in this cologne. Somehow they all come together to produce a fresh, woodsy, and sweet scent that actually works well.
- Top notes: rose, honey, cinnamon, bergamot, lemon, tarragon
- Middle notes: patchouli, cedar, jasmine, orris root
- Base notes: leather, patchouli, oakmoss, civet, musk, vetiver, amber, vanilla
It’s interesting how common vanilla is used as a base note in our present day while seeing it in this list of scent notes seems odd.
A synthetic formula has replaced civet, which was commonly used for its musk fragrances in years past. Now it’s more sustainable and respectful to the animals for the synthetic version to be used.
This is one of the things you might notice about men’s colognes from the 1970s. In some cases, the formulations have had to change due to more modern practices. So not every scent can smell exactly as it used to, but many of them come as close as they can to giving you a nostalgic experience.
- Still pungent even though it’s sweeter
- Romantic scent for evenings out
- Women also find this one attractive
- An affordable older fragrance
- Might smell too sweet for some men
- Not as easy to find
What Distinguishes Men’s Colognes from the 1970s?
Bold, groovy and cool are three words that adequately describe the 1970s.
You had roller skates, bell bottoms, ruffled tuxedo shirts, disco, afros, and some of the best slang that’s still used to this day
You might be thinking about all of the advancements that we’ve experienced since then and wonder what makes men’s cologne from the 1970s special.
Well, although you could look at that era and assume that all the fashion, flashiness, and smack talk were superficial noise, you might just find that that era has had more of a real and lasting presence. The 1970s left quite an impression on our world and fragrances made during that time are no different.
An extension of the previous decade, there were many social advancements that unfolded during the 1970s. Women’s rights, social activism for Native Americans and other ethnic groups, gay rights, but also self-improvement were the focus of the 70s.
Many people were coming into their own and defining their own standards. Others longed to uphold traditions and conservative values.
All of these factors seemed to have influenced men’s cologne fragrances. Most men’s scents from this era were audacious, yet sweet. They made a statement but also considered how others would experience them.
The best 1970s cologne for men were in some ways in the middle of the road – individualistic and considerate all at once. This duality made for an enticing set of fragrances.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages to Buying 1970s Cologne for Men?
One of the best things about applying colognes from the 1970s is that the fragrances don’t smell very dated.
Scent combinations could be sophisticated and were often appropriate for daily wear. In today’s time they might be considered more casual but they’re still timeless.
Another point is that you can obtain a reasonably priced fragrance that may not be immediately recognizable. So instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars for a niche fragrance in order to stand out from the crowd, you can buy a timeless 1970s cologne instead.
A disadvantage to buying 1970s cologne for men is that you might not be able to locate the fragrance that you want when you want it.
Because they’re so old, you don’t know when they might be discontinued. In some cases, a 1970s cologne might have already been discontinued so once the stock is gone, you wouldn’t be able to buy a replacement.
Another potential downfall is price. Since more and more of these scents are becoming scarce, their prices may begin to soar. You may end up paying more than expected or desired once fewer and fewer bottles exist.
For you it might be worth the price, though.
One last disadvantage is that some of the bottles might have been sitting around for years. If they’ve been left in their original packaging and stored in climate-controlled facilities, then the fragrance notes might still be intact.
But in some cases, they might have been left in extreme temperatures or the shrink wrap might have been removed. If this is the case, the scent might not be as potent and longevity might be reduced.
The 1970s was all about making bold statements – with words, fashion, beauty, and yes, fragrance. If you weren’t making an impression, you weren’t being seen.
Therefore, these scents are impactful, not subtle scents that you barely notice. The clear winner from this decade of scents is Polo by Ralph Lauren. It’s the most iconic 1970s men’s cologne – there’s nothing more to say.
As a runner up I would consider the refined Grey Flannel. It simply has more fragrance notes that I’d like to smell on a partner.
1970s colognes for men make great gifts, even if it’s a gag gift for kicks. They’re nice to have and wear when you want to take a trip down memory lane or simply smell nice without having to buy more costly modern fragrances.