If you’ve seen the Mystery Box TED talk delivered by JJ Abrams, you’ll know how the mystery isn’t about revealing what's in the box - it’s about the mystery of what might be in the box. Pockets are a bit like sealed boxes… surprises waiting to happen, especially once people find out that you’re like a box of tricks.
Sure you can go for pocketless pants and jackets to achieve that sleeker silhouette - but you're losing an opportunity to put your pockets to good use.
Dress for success
Mark Zuckerberg can make a power play by wearing his hoodie to a board meeting to show that he’s the wealthiest person in the room (or maybe he just loves hoodies and T-shirts). For everyone else, wearing a jacket and presentable outfit shows respect to the people who are giving you their time.
First impressions are essential. It shows that you care about yourself and the people you’re meeting.
Take it a step further and consider showing them some respect.
Even in a more casual office, it's better to be overdressed than under-dressed. Plus it helps you to stand out.
Pen and paper
Use a jacket to carry some old school things like a physical pen and paper. Make some notes, make eye contact, make something… just don’t make a fool of yourself by not being prepared.
Where are you going to put your business cards? Yes you should still have some on hand, and no, your LinkedIn URL doesn’t count as a business card.
How about storage for those breath mints? No, we’re not judging your breath problem.
One idea is buying good quality mints and handing them out at the end of the meeting, like a waiter does at the end of the meal. It’s memorable and useful.
Whether you have a Bugatti or Hyundai keychain, pocket your keys. Don’t leave them lying around on the boardroom table.
Put your phone in your pocket. It helps to engage and focus on the meeting at hand. Pockets help you to give people your full attention.
Put the phone in non-vibrating sleep mode - unless you’re a doctor on call. You’ll be fine for an hour with it turned off.
Research suggests that wearing formal clothes makes us feel more on top of things, that it changes our psychological outlook on the world and makes us more confident.
Reciprocal to this idea is how other people perceive your clothing smartness. For example, if you see someone in a white lab coat who's carrying a stethoscope, you're likely to believe that they’re a doctor. Smarter sartorial styling in the workplace encourages people to believe that you're more intelligent or trustworthy... just make sure that you say smart things, because perceptions can be ruined within seconds.
Pockets are also portals to potential icebreaking tools, the Sweet Prediction for instance.
What statement are you making? A white jacket if you’re Kanye West. Too black and overly formal says funerals, or a banker on his way to an arraignment hearing.
(Both of those events are not ideal to use an icebreaker by the way.)
Find something that sits in-between; formal but not undertaker formal.
In the 50’s, jackets were mostly used to store your cigarettes, money clip and hip flask. We aren’t big on smoking at Coolfidence HQ, but sometimes there’s a networking opportunity in lighting up (or pretending to).
Jackets can be a good fashion accessory. But they’re also like a handyman utility belt, but for the boardroom and workplace.
Plus they keep us warm on a cold day.