Magazine article Management Review

What's in Your Briefcase?

Magazine article Management Review

What's in Your Briefcase?

Article excerpt

It's the '90s, which means we can stop buying all those extravagant accessories. Now we can rent them. London Harness Co., a Boston leather goods store, has been renting its $900 briefcases for $38 a day so that job-seekers can look extra sharp.

I like this concept. There are always several moments during an interview when, with the right briefcase, you could really knock the interviewer off his or her feet. Take those awkward first few seconds when the interviewer is leading you to his or her office and you're at a loss for conversation. Why not try an unexpected gambit, such as slamming your briefcase into the interviewer's legs?

"That's quite a briefcase," the interviewer might say, while sprawled in the corridor. Presto-your conversational problems are over.

The only downside is, "If your briefcase looks too new, it reeks of inexperience," said one recruiter.

My briefcase was looking worn, so I dropped by an upscale luggage store. The prices ranged from $39 to $1,400, which seemed like a large range. Even cows don't roam in that large a range.

The salesman quickly admitted they hardly ever sell a $1,400 bag anymore, but he regarded the low-end merchandise with disdain. "See this?" he said, pointing to an $89 briefcase. "The leather's been stretched, dyed, varnished and chemically treated."

"Looks flawless," I said.

That's the problem," he said. "Ever known a perfect cow?"

I admitted that I hadn't.

"Cows get fat and wrinkled, they get bitten by insects, and all those marks show up on good quality leather. That's what makes each briefcase unique."

"The more imperfections, the better," I said.

Browsing further, I spotted an enormous lawyer's briefcase, although they probably would have sold it to a smaller lawyer as well. The original briefcase" was intended for lawyers-a case for briefs-as opposed to, say, a pillow case, which is a case for pillows, or a bureau drawer, which is where I keep my briefs. Actually, a lawyer's brief is her case, so it logically follows that a briefcase is a case for a case, which sounds unnecessary, but probably explains why your legal bills have been so high.

Apart from the traditional lawyer's briefcase, there are a number of other popular models, such as the attache, which is actually a box with a durable wood frame. …

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