gingering your swagger without tears

It wasn’t that long ago that Naija was swept by an epidemic called swagger. There were so many Nigerian songs about swagger, you couldn’t listen to a rotation of 10 songs on primetime radio without at least half of them having swagger as their theme. But it was no surprise that after tiring of crooning about girls and champagne, Nigeria’s hip hop artistes turned to swagger. For that opportunistic class that is not known for its creativity, swagger was the next logical thing. Ironically, swagger – an attitude whose very essence is its distinctiveness – almost became commonplace.

I am sure there were people, in the height of swaggermania, who didn’t even realize “swagger” was an English word. It is forgivable (okay, on second thought, maybe not) to have assumed it was one of Nigerian urban culture’s many slangs. Although inspired by its equivalent in English lexicon, the Nigerian swagger has acquired a life of its own. It has as much arrogance (possibly more), but of a kind that is charming and enviable, not the unlikeable and put-offish attitude the Englishman’s version of the word seeks to depict.

Possessing swagger has since displaced being a smooth talker as the No. 1 attribute of a ladies’ man. The more serious, marriage-seeking sisters may not yet rank it as important as traditional eligibility criteria such as being responsible and God fearing, but I have it on good authority that a lil’ bit of swagger is now a common feature on many single women’s lists. After all, what woman doesn’t like a man brimming of self-confidence?

Now that having some swagger has become as essential as having an education, here are a few tips on how to step up your swagger without breaking a sweat.

jazz things up with a jacket

I love the TV series Suits, not for its drama, but the bespoke suits on array. There’s nothing, I repeat, nothing, like a well-tailored jacket. Forget wristwatches and shoes; a jacket is the only item of men’s clothing that is able, singlehandedly, to make a man look like a million dollars.

I’d tell you a short true story that illustrates just what a jacket (or a lack of one) can do. I got to make the acquaintance of a fellow that never took off his jacket. It didn’t matter that he was in a sweltering room and was drenched in sweat; this chap clung to his jacket like his life depended on it. The first (and only) time I saw him without a jacket, I finally understood why he never took his jacket off. He looked small and insignificant; almost pathetic. He lost most of my respect that day.

I agree with you that suits are a relic of colonialism and that it’s madness to wear them in the oppressive heat of the tropics, but of what importance are those when dignity and respect are at stake? Guys, I’d give you a piece of advice for free: you’re better off sweating like a pig in a jacket than not wearing one.

I must however sound a note of warning: better the man that weareth no jacket than he that weareth an oversized or ill fitting jacket. There’s a huge difference between a jacket and a coat, and it’s not just in their spellings. The next worst thing to wearing an ill fitting suit is wearing one made of shiny, satiny fabric. Don’t be fooled by celebrities that wear such stuff; being a celebrity buys one certain immunities. Trust me, the only reason P. Diddy and Mase got away with the things they wore during the shiny suit era was because they were P. Diddy and Mase.

short skirts & high heels: a deadly combo

Never underestimate the power of high heels. Give an average looking girl a pair of high heels and she’ll be transformed, before your very eyes, into a babe; put a good looking woman on them, and you have a goddess. There’s a certain sophistication and elegance only killer heels can give.

For sisters that are closer to the ground, high heels are lifesavers. The effect of high heels on petite women (or more appropriately, petite women on high heels) is astonishing. Other than the power of the Most High, I do not know of anything else that has the capacity to exalt valleys.

Short skirts and dresses, nice legs and high heels work wonders; they combine to devastating effect, as would an Andre Iniesta through pass to Lionel Messi. It takes a very disciplined man not to let his eyes linger on slim, smooth legs delicately poised on a pair of killer heels. There’s a girl in my office who put high heels to good use. I must confess, even I couldn’t resist checking out her legs once or twice (okay, maybe more than once or twice). Fortunately, she made the grave mistake, on a certain dressdown Friday, of not wearing high heels. When I saw her in flats, I wasn’t impressed. She had stepped down, literally, from the lofty heights in which I once held her.

For some lucky career women, the elevating effect of high heels doesn’t end at merely adding a few inches. Sometimes, all it takes for career advancement is catching the fancy of your ogling male boss in your deadly combo. Sisters, I know those things make your feet hurt like hell, but trust me, you are better off not getting off them.

always wear sunglasses

The eyes, they say, are the window to the soul. That is true, and it is for that reason that there is no easier way of hiding nervousness, anxiety and such other niggling inadequacies than behind a pair of dark sunglasses.

In addition to hiding away your insecurities, a pair of sunglasses can transform your look from just there to wow. You only need to put on a nice pair of shades to feel as if you’re the baddest dude or hottest chick in the freaking whole wide world. Even marijuana doesn’t deliver a high that quick.

For those concerned about the dent a pair of designer sunglasses can put on the wallet, fear not. They don’t have to be Ray-Bans or Oakleys. Cheap, nameless, purchased-in-Lagos-traffic sunglasses have no less an effect on upping one’s swagger. No one wears sunglasses with the price tag hanging from the frame anyway, so what’s the point of designer sunglasses? However, if you’re going to opt for a counterfeit, please be careful in your choice of (i) the counterfeit sunglasses themselves, and (ii) where you wear them to. Whilst you may get away with a nice looking pair of “Ray-Band” sunglasses at Bar Beach, your reputation is likely to be irretrievably damaged if you wore those same sunglasses on the red carpet at a premiere of a Nollywood blockbuster.

You can rock your shades anywhere anytime. There was a time it was criminal to wear sunglasses at night or indoors. Fortunately (or unfortunately for those that are sticklers for the fashion code), those days appear to be a forgotten past. As long as you’re not wearing sunglasses in a movie theater, trust me, you will not draw stares.

don’t even think about stepping out of your house (bedroom) without wearing makeup

It’s amazing what makeup can do. It wasn’t until I went through a makeup artist friend’s album that showcased before and after pictures of her clients that I fully appreciated the incredible, transformative power of makeup. Along with Satan, hallucinogens and the wonder bra, makeup ranks amongst the biggest deceivers of mankind (or maybe I should say “man” instead). I have seen girls with makeup on and seen them without wearing any makeup, and each time, I was left scratching my head and doubting whether they were the same persons.

Don’t overdo the makeup though. The purpose of makeup is to conceal blemishes and enhance features, not to transform you into a scarecrow. If your spots are of the kind that cannot be masked by a few layers of makeup, then I’m afraid that you have no choice but to become a nocturnal creature, restricting yourself to going out only after dark, and avoiding, as much as you can, places that are well lit.

Also, please don’t wash off the makeup until you’re alone. If you’re spending the night at his place (and he is not your husband) ensure you go to bed still wearing your makeup. Tales abound of men (even fiancés!) that changed their minds and fled the instant the makeup came off.

accessories are the ish!

Accessories can make a world of difference. A pocket square, boutonniere, bow tie or lapel pin could well be the difference between seeming ordinary and looking dapper. Likewise, it’s often that clutch bag and bead necklace that is the deciding factor between who makes it into the centre spread of Thisday Style and who doesn’t get past the media card of the photographer’s camera.

However, as with most things in life, the trick to accessorizing is moderation and good judgment. The accessory must suit the occasion. That it’s okay for Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to turn up at his office on a Monday morning wearing a polka dot bow tie, doesn’t mean you too can do the same. Trust me, you would be taken for a clown, and if there’s any attribute clowns aren’t known for, it’s swagger.

finally…

It would be dishonest if I ended without pointing this out: swagger is not made for everyone. It comes naturally to some, others have to make an effort to acquire it, and there are those that simply do not and cannot have it. For that last category, I’d be honest, I’m afraid not even the above tips can help you. Remember that boy or girl that was in your class in primary school, who always came last in ranking, irrespective of the army of lesson teachers and marathon extra coaching their parents procured? Well, the same way those chaps just didn’t know book, some folks simply aint got swag.

post script: bellanchi apologises to its readers for its lengthy absence. We (the blog and its author) are a new and reluctant convert, but if you find this blog interesting, you can now follow us on twitter @bellanchi.

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