Usually for starters or anyone riding. I know know most would like to incorporate your personality and style in to the jacket you want. that's always a first amongst new riders. I felt this way too and sure a few of you have been through this. After you realize how also it is important to get some good qualities in the jacket as well to meet all occasions. And make sure that there is significant protection as well. Whether you look good in it or not lets try to meet somewhere in the middle, so you can pick the right type of jacket and make sure your hard earned money is spent right.
Remember that you're not going to be wearing a motorcycle jacket standing up. Different bikes will place you in different riding positions. This means a jacket should run a little long in the sleeves, it should have a little extra room in the shoulders, and needs to come down a little further so there's no gap between the top of your pants and the bottom of the jacket. It should also have closures around the wrists, neck and waist. Not only will this provide protection against the elements, but it will also keep material from flapping around, which is distracting when you ride.
Padding = Protection. Most jackets come with reinforced elbows, shoulders and backs. It can be as simple as extra material sown strategically into areas that are often injured in a crash to heavy-duty plastic inserts to reinforced Kevlar. Check to make sure the protective armor doesn't shift around when you put the jacket on. It won't do you any good if it doesn't stay in place.
The more, the merrier. Look for an inner pocket to put your license, wallet, or cash in. Outer pockets are of little use if they can't be closed tight. I speak from experience. I lost a $120 pair of Oakleys http://oakley.com/ when I stuck them in my side jacket pocket without zipping it shut and wind buffeting knocked my favorite shades out somewhere on I-5 between work and home. Pockets with cover-up flaps are best. Wind has a way of finding its way between the teeth of a zipper, so a small patch of material in front or back of a zipper will help keep wind penetration to a minimum. Also, check outer pockets to see if they are waterproof. This is always a bonus.