It's cologne, not a comb
It doesn't begin with the ride to the mall. Or even the lingering echo of the cologne you used to wear. None of that. It begins with your wallet. How much money you are willing to spend on smelling good. Go to the mall. Not the local gift store, where you can get ripped off with counterfeits, or disappointed with limited choice. And they won't get cranky if you take your time - which you should.
For those who for some reason apply cologne to their clothes - don't. It will stain your clothes and wear off faster. And unlike cloth, skin deep can be oily or dry, which affects how cologne performs on it. Dry skin doesn't have moisture to lock in the cologne, whereas oily skin has affinity for the epidermal oil - just wear moisturizer beforehand.
Location, location, location...
Have money? Pick two colognes. There is usually a difference between colognes for day and nightwear. For the day, wear something crisp and cool. In a hurry? Pick up any of the 'sport' fragrances, which have a hint of spice. For the darker time of day, opt for the classics - something spicy, woody, and warm, yet subtle. If you can afford it, you can't afford to smell like your deodorant (not that day fragrances are deodorants, but it’s just an analogy), and how you want to smell for your girlfriend shouldn’t be how you want to smell with your coworkers.
You sweat more in summer, and your pulse points can radiate off the cologne, atom by atom into the air. So wear light 'summery' scents, but avoid anything fruity, unless it's a subtle hint in a medley of more meaningful hints (like pine, woods, even tobacco) Vice versa for winter – you're covered up, and your skin is less oily - so wear stronger fragrances.
At the mall
Before you blurt out how much you plan to spend, be nice to the saleslady - a woman's opinion is good to have. Better is to take a woman along. Now get specific - state how much you’re willing to spend.
Don't immediately spray yourself with whatever you are offered. Reputed stores have blotter paper, or cards to spray the fragrances. Quickly eliminate the ones you don't like. Since all this smelling soon undermines your smell accuracy, have coffee beans or a cup of hot coffee nearby, which immediately refreshes your sense of smell.
Notes A fragrance has 3 notes - the top, the middle and the base notes. The top note is your initial impression of the fragrance, the middle notes is the lasting impression – it stays a few hours, before fading away into the base note. It is advisable to spray a perfume on a few cards, and walk around with them. If you are stuck with four - six fragrances, spray one on each hand (remember which hand!), walk around and come back in 15 minutes - when the middle notes have begun playing out, and eliminate. After narrowing it down to maybe four colognes, buy samplers. Take them home; try each out for at least a day - buy the bottle once upon finalizing.
While buying the Bottle If the box in which you get the bottle feels a bit soft, have it replaced - it's been handled too often. Ditto for a box with faded colours (it's been exposed to the sun, or UV light) or not packaged in shrink-wrapped plastic (it might have been returned by someone). If you can’t get a replacement, remember the name – you can buy it elsewhere - and leave.
An advisory on how to select and buy the right cologne or fragrance for men. The right cologne is a fragrance for men.