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Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s Favorite Scent Is Only $12


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The late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy‘s style was elegant and understated — and still coveted to this day — so it makes sense that her fragrance of choice was a simple and classic scent. What’s surprising is that her go-isn’t a fancy perfume, but an oil that costs less than $15. 

Carole Radziwill, who was married to JFK Jr.’s cousin Anthony Radziwill, revealed her in-law’s affinity for Egyptian musk oil ($11.99-$28.99, Amazon) in her memoir, What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love ($5.57, Amazon). In an excerpt from the book, Radziwill shares a Christmastime memory of Carolyn.

“‘Merry Christmas!’ John shouts, and the quiet apartment is scattered with noise. He unbuttons his coat and drops it on a chair. Beneath it, corduroy pants and sweater; Carolyn, a black turtleneck, like mine, and skirt. Traces of Egyptian musk follow her in. I will smell it on my clothes after she leaves, on Anthony’s sweater.”

This was not a one-off experience — Carole recalls her friend’s familiar fragrance in another anecdote as well. “I see a room at the Hyatt, with Pop-Tarts crumbs in the bed. I see those big bold eyes and smell the faint scent of musk oil she leaves behind. I see her smiling, holding a glass paperweight with the Dogwood bloom, at the small crafts store in Georgetown.”

Whether or not Egyptian musk oil was truly Carolyn’s preferred perfume, its mild and refined scent may still win you over. Note that the oil may smell slightly different on each person as it interacts with someone’s unique body chemistry. It’s also light enough to be layered with another essential oil like sandalwood or lavender for a truly personal experience.

“I love Egyptian musk there’s nothing like it,” one Amazon customer wrote. “Those who love this smell know it smells better with time and I’m sure that’s why Egyptian musk literally never goes bad… but for those who don’t like [patchouli] just give this a try. Egyptian musk is an array of floral scents but it embodies the very clean note that patchouli has, not the earthy note … You just smell so clean when you [wear] this, it’s a wonderful addition if your scenting your own hair oil or homemade product.”

If Egyptian musk oil is good enough for Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, it’s good enough for us. 

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