A reader recently emailed me about this photo:
He asked why I thought "that neon [was] still possible on any man after 1988". While these socks are bright, they don't quite qualify as neon/Day-Glo/Hi-Viz, or any of the other industrial names associated with safety and visibility. It's good to get a little peppy (I said peppy, not preppy) with the clothing now and then, but I must respond with an answer that will twist the stomachs of the holier-than-thou. These colors are meant to draw attention to themselves for increased visibility. I see this color very often in my daily life as well, and the most common uses span every strata on the "cares about what they wear" index. Stay with me on this one... I'll come back...
-Police officers and road crews wear them for obvious reasons... SAFETY. Anything that gains someone an additional second or two to avoid being plowed into while managing our infrastructure is fine with me. This is an appropriate industrial application. The yellowish/green version has been common in Europe for a while, and has only recently replaced the high-visibility orange once favored industrially in America. Stay with me here...
-My neighbor (a technology entrepreneur) wears this color while bicycling to his swank office everyday. Again, he is interested in arriving to work in a state of not having been killed.
Now, on to the meat of it. I ended up wearing said color yesterday after the wind and pouring rain worked my wax-cloth jacket beyond capacity. Actually, only the hood of my jacket was the hue in question.
---Wax-cloth jacket and LL Bean Jones Cap... good for light rain---
When a little drizzle with some wind is the forecast, the wax-cloth can suit you well. When the wind picks up enough to destroy most umbrellas, if you are doing more than just running from car to building, a heavier jacket is needed. The off-shore and coastal sailing jackets come out and that is when you start to see neon. You can often see men with nice shirts and ties dashing through the financial district with their neon yellow hoods over their heads and suits, having given up on their long Brooks Brothers raincoats.
The hoods are neon because when you fall in the water, only your hood and cuffs are visible. On the deck of a boat, the neon hood lets you quickly see where all of the vulnerable craniums are.
When the weather get REALLY ugly, all style bets are off. The tall soft-fleece collar feels nice around the ears, the jacket is warm, the fleece-lined pockets are deep, and the wearer is guaranteed to not get one drop of wind-driven rain on his clothing underneath. Is it stylish? Not really. Am I asking questions and then answering them myself? Yes. Yes I am.
If you are the pretentious type who wants to advertise to everyone that you have experience with boats, you can rest assured that your branding message will be driven home because of your offshore jacket (the same way people do with their ski jackets). So there you have it... either someone is wearing the neon hood to draw attention to themselves about their boating skills or they want to stay dry and they don't care how odd they may look in it. Two opposite approaches under the same ugly neon hood, and you'll have to decide into which category they fall.
Also, if you enjoy genuine blogs that capture the visceral joy of sailing, you'll love Earwigoagin.