I was in the passenger's seat of a friend's car as we drove toward town, when suddenly he pressed the horn and gestured out the window. "Hey, there's our friend So-and-So!"
"What? Where, I don't see him."
"There, right beside you! Must be doing his evening run."
Finally I spotted him. Jogging along the side of the road in a luminous green windbreaker, his figure was nearly invisible against the background of lush pastures. The grass had taken on a particularly neon cast that evening in the cumulus-filtered light of the overcast sky, and I marveled at how perfectly his jacket blended in with the landscape. It was like looking at a Neo Rauch painting. I had seen this effect at play before, with both runners and cyclists dressed in hi-viz garb. With a feeling of unease, I hoped the drivers on this road would have an easier time spotting him than I did.
Hi-viz attire is hardly the stuff of fashion statement. Cyclists wear it for a practical purpose, and that purpose is to be highly visible. The idea behind neon greens and yellows in particular, is that these hues are in sharp contrast to the cyclist's environment - which, presumably, is comprised of shades of gray and brown.
But Ireland, after all, is called the Emerald Isle. In most parts, the landscape is dominated by endless expanses of bright-green grass, made especially luminous by the light's unique quality. The greenery is supplemented with swathes of bright yellow. In Spring the fields are littered with buttercups and the hedges become a mass of yellow gorse blossoms. In Summer bright rapeseed flowers spread through the land like rolls of psychodelic yellow carpet. And come Autumn, a hardy, weedy type of flower outlines the fields with a pervasive yellow lacieness.
When cycling through such a hi-viz landscape, it is hardly surprising that hi-viz attire can in fact become camouflage.
Of course not everybody lives in Ireland. But my point is that every locale comes with its own colour pallet. And if the goal is for our outfit to stand out against the landscape, it is worthwhile to consider whether it actually does - rather than assuming that garments marketed as hi-viz are truly such in each and every circumstance.
In the open, yellow-green landscape I now call home, I find that stark black clothing is actually quite effective in daytime - creating a sharp, easy to spot silhouette that is distinctly human in form. And when I do wear hi-viz clothing, I go with either hot pink or bright orange for contrast.
"Um yeah... Just don't wear those in Vermont during leaf season!" a friend reminds me.
Good point. Good point indeed.