If you're an indecisive sniffer, or if you just want to wear perfumes for a while before buying them, samples are your best friend. A sample allows you to live with a scent for a while, and I think that's the only way to go. Unfortunately, though, samples are not always easy to come by — but if you go to the right places, you'll have the opportunity to try before you buy, as they say. Keep in mind, though, that this isn't a free-for-all; it's best to ask for samples of only the scents that interest you, and even then, I don't ask for more than two at a time.

Without a doubt, the best places to find a sample are Sephora and Nordstrom. Both are happy to provide carded samples if they're available. And if they're not, a clerk will decant a perfume into a small vial for you. This is how I was able to explore YSL Elle for a week before figuring out that I didn't love it. And it's also why I'll be going back to Sephora to buy Narciso Rodriguez for Her.

For more of my findings,

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After Sephora and Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's was the next friendliest. When I asked for a vial of Agent Provocateur, a clerk gladly produced one and showed me other scents I might like. Sadly, I was unable to get any samples at Macy's, even after a few visits. Neiman Marcus provided a couple of samples, as did Saks. Unfortunately, I don't live near a Sears or JC Penney, so perhaps some of you can weigh in on whether you can obtain a sample there. (By the way, the image used here is of If, which I tried yesterday. It wasn't for me, but — hey, if you're interested — Apothia offers samples through the mail for $5.)