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How to Become Invisible - a Guide to Hiding in Plain Sight

Updated on June 28, 2011

Little known fact: I am exceedingly good at hiding. I am so good at hiding that I have passed family members by in the street and have literally waved at them and they have not recognized me. I am so exceedingly talented that even my own mother has not recognized me in actual video footage with only me in the shot, in clear view, speaking and moving. Feel free to let your jaw drop. I'll wait.

Here's the thing- I am by no means talented or shifty or inconspicuous. I'm actually pretty tall, awkward, and loud. This leads me to believe that if I can hide in plain sight, anyone can! Yep, that's right. I'm going to take a second to climb down from my high horse to teach you how to become invisible.

After reading this, you'll have all the skills and know-how necessary to navigate in public undetected. And believe me, you'll find many situations in which these skills come in handy, whether you're out on the streets and on the lamb or in the company parking lo trying to avoid Derk Lamb from Sales.

You don't need to take invisibility pills to become invisible.
You don't need to take invisibility pills to become invisible. | Source

Hiding in Plain Sight

Becoming invisible does not entail special technology, magical cloaks, or crazy ninja moves. You can become invisible in everyday clothes, walking around like an entirely normal human being. All it takes is a little bit of foresight.

Confused? Don't be. Consider the vast majority of your acquaintances. What is the first thing that you notice about them? Their hair? Their outfits? Their crazy glasses?

If these distinguishing characteristics were to change, do you think you would still recognize these people? Probably not.

The key to becoming invisible, then, is to disassociate yourself from your distinguishing characteristics. You might think this is impossible- that you can't get rid of your oddly pinkish skin or your strange nose or your super blue eyes. This (without some extra effort) may be true. But you don't have to change those things to hide in plain sight. All you have to do make sure that you become identified by other characteristics!

The odder you dress, the more likely people are to rely on clothes to identify you!
The odder you dress, the more likely people are to rely on clothes to identify you! | Source

Technique

Let us explore an example. I'll go with myself, since obviously the world revolves around me.

Over the years, I have made a point of always wearing skirts, boots, and big bows in my hair. Folks will give me a hard time when I don't wear bows- they've come to expect it. If I were to dress more varyingly, I might be remembered more for my hair color or gait or height, but because I make it so easy for others to identify me by my funny outfits, their minds have been trained to look for those and not the girl beneath them.

For this reason, I can pretty much hide in plain sight when I leave the bows at home and wear a shirt, sneakers, and jeans.

It's that simple. All you have to do is:

  1. Establish a distinct visual feature that sets you aside from other people
  2. Display that distinct feature with extreme consistency
  3. Remove that feature when you don't want to be recognized

While clothing is the easiest means by which you can create a decoy distinguishing characteristic, you may also utilize a distinct hairstyle.

Source

Additional Helpful Tips

This particular technique for becoming invisible only works if you do a very good job at training others to recognize you based on controllable attributes, and does not work for all people (some people, for example, tend to always recognize others from faces, gait, or voice- not obvious things like hair and clothing). Also, if the decoy characteristic you assume resembles characteristics of many other people you know, it will be pretty much useless, as folks only rely on the things that make you look different when they develop their internal methods of recognizing you.

If you find yourself in a situation in which you need to immediately pass others unrecognized, there are, of course, some other simple and quick tricks you can employ. These include:

  • Removing/putting on an atypical jacket / pair of sunglasses
  • Putting on a hat that covers your hair and head
  • Putting a couple of pebbles in your shoes to change your gait
  • NOT sneaking around like you're trying to hide
  • Sticking to large crowds
  • Avoiding eye contact

If you have any other quick fixes or excellent methods of concealment you'd like to share, be sure to bring them up in the comments!

Good luck hiding!

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    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I'm here to co sign your tremendous wisdom concerning the phenomena of hiding in plain sight.

      I put on a suite, and folks think I'm the danged old F.B.I.!!

      I'm wearing my shorts, sneakers, shades, and goatee - look out, here comes a gangster!

      Simone - who says that the world DOESN'T revolve around you?

    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 5 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      brilliant hub ~ now I need to create something people will hone in on

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

      The people in my family recognize each other and others through face, gait, etc. not clothes or even hairdo. maybe a large hat so as to cover up my face? That may hide my identity from others, but only until I start walking. My right leg is already shorter than my left leg, so my walk is very distinct.

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Right on, Wesman Todd Shaw! I shoulda known you, too, would possess mad concealment skills. And hey, I'm just feigning modesty. The world DEFINITELY revolves around me.

      Thanks, Lyn.Stewart! I hope you have fun developing the decoy! I know I had fun developing mine!

      And it is true that this method is tougher with close friends and family, FloraBreenRobison, especially because they've known you long enough to see beyond your basic exterior. This method is best for avoiding general coworkers, neighbors, and acquaintances. When it comes to avoiding family, you're right- the best way to go is to cover your face. As for your unique gait, try out the pebble-in-shoe approach. It works quite well!

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia

      Thanks...Invisibility has interested me for a few years now. Looking at it from the slightly different angle of age and race I was in my late fifties when I first noticed I became invisible to the younger age groups. So walking through a town as the bars disgorged their inebriated and rowdy clientele they simply did not see me. As a younger man, and a stranger, I would have been fair game. In London I am mainly invisible. In the northern English cities some do see me. In Singapore I am invisible but in Manila must glow like a beacon because everyone sees me. Where I live now most see me...but then most know me.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, I must admit to 'hiding' most of the time! the trouble with me is that even when I go breezing down the town, all smiles etc, people still don't see me! then again it could be because they are ignoring me.....never thought of that! lol cheers nell

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      It is indeed so interesting, Peter Dickinson, how one can be invisible in some places and not in others. I know exactly what you mean. I have no trouble blending in when I want to in the States or most areas in Europe, but drop me off in a remote town in China and there ain't no hiding. There are indeed some scenarios in which concealment via this method is simply impossible!

      Hahaa, Nell, it looks like you've become TOO GOOD at hiding!! I doubt they'd ignore someone as fun as you :D

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I cut my waist length hair off to chin length then dyed it blonde. I was instantly invisible to everyone who knew me! People really do look for what they know and are comfortable with. What a great and fun Hub you have given us.

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 5 years ago from Oakland, California

      An interesting article. We do get in the habit of categorising people we know in order to quickly recognise them.This article takes a good look at using this fact to our advantage

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      That must have been so much fun, Hyphenbird! My mother once radically changed her hair and nobody recognized her for the longest time- it was hilarious.

      And right you are, Alladream74! Exploiting odd behavior is one of the most enjoyable things one can do :D

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

      Okay....so to hide my distinct characteristics, I guess I would have to put on high heels and try to walk more like Gisele Bundchen. Longer gait. More graceful. And hopefully, my crazy cousin would look right past me. Thanks for the tips! =D

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hehee, that really sounds like fun! Actually, you gave me a good idea with heels- I bet nobody would recognize me if I put them on, even IF I maintain my current distracting dress.

    • visionandfocus profile image

      visionandfocus 5 years ago from North York, Canada

      Great tips! I'm growing out my hair even as we speak, and have a great excuse to put in all sorts of clips and hair-thingies. Seeing how I'm always known as the short-haired one, this is definitely a step in the right direction, no?

    • kallini2010 profile image

      kallini2010 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Simone:

      I have never actually read any of your hubs before, it did not occur to me to look for it - talk about being invisible. As far as your flamboyant appearance goes - yes, I saw your Facebook Page and the best thing I remember was

      "Secret of my success - controlled depravity."

      It's cute and quirky in a (looking for an adjective...) kind of way.

      I never wanted to be invisible (maybe I don't remember), but it always strikes me when other people do -- "What? You have no personality?"

      The good thing about not being recognized -

      there is a saying

      "If someone did not recognize you, you'll be reach." Folks Wisdom. Yes, right, where is the big bag to collect the money?

      Sometimes we don't recognize each other. My father did not recognize me on a photo, I did not recognize my own ex-husband. We can all hide in plain sight...

      The recognition goes to the people who outfit. To stand out you need an out-fit. To blend in you need an in-fit (it is also called an out-fit for disguising purposes).

      An interesting topic, made me think about Fashion, however.

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I think so, visionandfocus! I'm doing the same thing :D

      An interesting saying that is, kallini2010! I love the idea of out-fits vs. in-fits. Hehee! Perhaps I should categorize and refer to them as such!

    • JSParker profile image

      JSParker 5 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Hmmm, people keep recognizing me for someone else. I've had the darndest time trying to hide that one.

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      What an interesting experience that must be, JSParker! That is a hard thing to hide indeed!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

      I have become quite good at being invisible over the years (especially in clubs and gin joints), though every once in a while, my evil twin gets me into some hot water.

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Darn those evil twins!! Well, here's to them keeping us on our toes :D

    • Ebower profile image

      Erin Bower 5 years ago from Georgia

      Apparently I am always disguised as someone younger then myself. People that don't know me think I look like I'm 18 when I'm really 26. I might not hold a disappearing trait, but I sure do dodge my age!

    • KMattox profile image

      KMattox 5 years ago from USA

      Simone

      I once hid so well it took me years to find myself. When I finally bumped into myself it was the sudden *thud* that made me realize it was me. Has that ever happened to you?

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      That's quite the nice disguise to assume, Ebower! Many folks I know would kill for that!

      And YESS! That has definitely happened to me, KMattox. It can be pretty disconcerting, but fun nonetheless! Self-discovery always carries the most pleasant, self-indulgent air, does it not?

    • HennieN profile image

      HennieN 5 years ago from South Africa

      Great hub. Can't imagine how I managed not to see myself as invisible! Glad there are people ou there that posses this unique skill as well.

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Welcome to our secret society, HennieN!

    • profile image

      ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      I find if I try to pass on advice to my children or ask my grandkids to stop misbehaving I become both invisible and ignored.

    • profile image

      arvind 5 years ago

      i really want to become invisible?but all tricks get failed...send me secret and sucessful tricks for beginers to become invisible at first time only.......... my gmail address is - smartypareek2901@gmail.com

    • Simone Smith profile image
      Author

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hahaa, that works ruffidyer!!

      And I'm terribly sorry arvind, but I sold those secrets to a very wealthy woman. You'll never find her.

    • profile image

      Chris Hugh 5 years ago

      You're like a ninja.

    • profile image

      madison 4 years ago

      SO HOW DO U REALLY TURN INVISIBLE GUYS?????? I want to be invisible so my braty little brother cant throw crap at me and so he doesn't know where i am at & all that crap

    • profile image

      Kyle 4 years ago

      I find it funny when you are TRYING to hide then it actually backfires but when you act *normal* yet aware of your surroundings then more often you can *hide*. Yes there is a thingas trying to hard.

    • melissae1963 profile image

      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      What an interesting HUB. I try to hide as often as possible. I'm perfectly happy when alone and at home. In my younger days, I wanted to be seen. Now, just leave me alone.

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