From Brooklyn hipsters to Manhattan fashionistas, New Yorkers are renowned for having an acute sense of personal style. That style, which is a combination of clothing, design, and lifestyle, is the cultural DNA unique to each Gothamite known as our swag.
But what exactly is “swag?” Although Jay Z may have claimed in 2011 to have “invented swag” there has been much dispute over the origin or the word. Some believe it traces back to the 1980s and trade show giveaways and is an acronym for “Stuff We All Get.” Other acronym–believers claim that swag stands for “Secretly We Are Gay” and was a 1960s era code word for closeted homosexuals. Scholars claim they can trace swag’s roots to over 520 years ago when the character Puck spoke of “hempen home-spuns we have swaggering here” in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In fact, the famed Bard of Avon was so enamored of the word “swaggering” that he used it in his subsequent plays Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and Henry IV.
For the purposes of this post, let’s go with Shakespeare and define swag as how you present yourself or strut yourself as your own living personal brand.
But what exactly is “swag”?
Here are five tips for you to level up that swag
HAVE A SIGNATURE SCENT
The first thing you need to know about fragrance is that it is as much for the person who wears it as it is for those around him. The second thing you need to know is that less is more. Find a scent that’s right for you, one that gives you confidence and inspires that confidence in others. Then make sure you don’t overuse it. If you’re one of those guys who doesn’t have a cologne, try Tom Ford, Bond 9, or Spice Bomb. Hermes D’Orange Verte is a winner. Take a trip to Sephora. Or, if you don’t have the time, visit ScentBird online.
OWN ONE GREAT WATCH
When it comes to accessories, guys have it easy. Women spend thousands of dollars on handbags and jewelry while most of us walk around with maybe a ring on our hand (if we’re married) and some tired Fossil or Apple Watch on our wrists. Step it up. Few things can impress more at a job interview, first date, or cocktail party than a Rolex or Cartier. Don’t have the cash to shop at Hudson Yards for a timepiece? No problem. Go on eBay and search for Audemars Piguet. You’ll find anything from a vintage moon phase analog for $150 to a Quincy Jones limited edition for 10K, and everything in between.
JOIN A GYM FOR ADULTS
A gym isn’t just for working out. It’s also a great place to network and build business and social connections. At the risk of sounding snobby, with a discount gym, you’re going to get a discount workout and meet discount people. Equinox has built its brand around excellence. Boutique workout centers like Tonehouse offer a competitive atmosphere around real athletes. Mark Fisher Fitness boasts getting Broadway in shape and promises that you may have a celebrity or two in your class. Even bargain mainstay New York Sports Club has launched its new Elite class of clubs aimed at the serious gymgoer.
READ PRINT REGULARLY
Have your read A Gentleman in Moscow yet? If you haven’t, don’t’ feel bad. Bill Gates just got around to reviewing this three-year old saga everyone’s raved over just last month. Who hasn’t heard someone talk about Where the Crawdads Sing these days? On the memoir front, Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime and Michelle Obama’s Becoming are also must-reads. Try to read at least six to twelve books a year. Also, make sure you subscribe to at least one quality periodical. We recommend Vanity Fair, New York, or The New Yorker. Nobody is more boring than that guy who can only quote TV shows.
…define swag as how you present yourself or strut yourself as your own living personal brand.
BE AN INTREPID INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLER
Disney World’s EPCOT is a lot of fun. You can have a drink in every country where you start out in Pretend Mexico and are wasted by the time you hit Faux France. But travel is more than central Florida. There is a big world out there that’s more than the continental United States or resort-heavy Caribbean. Try to hit Europe once a year and mix it up. If you’ve been to the Greek islands. Try the Azores. Been to Paris and London already? Maybe try Madrid. Oh, and while you’re there, check out the out-of-the-way non-touristy neighborhoods. Rome and Venice’s Jewish ghettos have great restaurants and shops frequented only by locals. Can’t afford Europe, or travelling with family? Go to a resort in Mexico and venture out to the local towns. You can live luxe at night and have an adventure during the day worth talking about when you come home to New York.