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How to Wear Neon Without Looking Like a Traffic Cone

Graphic: Chelsea Stone
Style GirlfriendStyle Girlfriend is the go-to destination for guys seeking not just fashion advice, but lifestyle tips, tricks, and shortcuts - all from a friendly, female editorial team’s perspective. Each week, Team SG will round up the clothes, grooming products and more men need to live their most stylish lives.

As a New York transplant whose closet brims with clothes in a sensible navy (black washes me out), I understand that deviating from neutrals can be a struggle. So when I break out of the norm, I like to go big. Lately? That means I’m busting out some neon.

Because guys. Neon! Is! Like! Shouting! With! Your! Clothes!

But in a happy, excited way. Like, “YOU GOT THE JOB?!” as opposed to “YOU MADE OUT WITH MY SISTER AT OUR DAD’S RETIREMENT PARTY?!”

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As with any bright color, of course, moderation is key when it comes to neon. We’re talking, pop of color in an otherwise understated outfit. A light sprinkle of style. Umami for your wardrobe. Neon is especially great for breaking up the browns, olives, and other nature-inspired hues in your fall wardrobe (which, yes, we’re going to start talking about soon).

Levi’s Red Tab Oversized Graphic Hoodie, $80

Unfamiliar colors like a bright lime green are easiest to wear when strategically positioned on an item that’s both familiar and comfortable. Levi’s not-too-oversized hoodie is the perfect baby step for anyone looking to ease their way into the neon menswear trend.

Urban Outfitters Neon Orange Windbreaker, $20

Urban Outfitters Neon Orange Windbreaker, $20
Graphic: Chelsea Stone
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Okay, okay, the headline promised that you wouldn’t look like a traffic cone in your neon. So here’s how to wear this hi-vis orange windbreaker without being mistaken for municipal property. Leave the jacket unzipped over a simple white pocket tee and pair it with light-wash jeans. Finish the look with some retro sneakers, and voila. Stylish man about town, not functional traffic direction tool.

ASOS Original Fit Jeans, $48

ASOS Original Fit Jeans, $48
Graphic: Chelsea Stone
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Let me guess. All the jeans in your closet right now are, what, blue? Or black? Yeesh, boring. If you’re ready to embrace the neon trend in all its “pop of color” glory, why not go all out with a pair of bright pink jeans? Wear them like they’ve styled the ASOS model, with a dark shirt on top and chunky, technical sneakers. The rolled cuff and visible tube sock is up to you. (Oh, and they have bright pink sweatshirts that our team loves, too, if you’re not quite ready to bust out Peppa Pig-levels of allover color).

Michael Kors Henry Slim Billfold, $88

Michael Kors Henry Slim Billfold, $88
Graphic: Chelsea Stone
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If SG ruled the world, every man would eschew pants pocket-straining overstuffed wallets in favor of slim billfolds and elegant money clips. Why? Because this battle of the accessories bulge ruins the clean lines of an otherwise stylish outfit (and no, I will not indulge your “but why are you looking there in the first place?” gutter-minded rhetoric!). This slim leather style from Michael Kors in a neon highlighter yellow has just six card slots, which honestly should absolutely be enough slots!

Eastpak Reflective Padded Pak’r Backpack, $50

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A backpack is a great way to “go big” on your neon without looking like a crossing guard all day long. Think of it as a fun accessory for your commute, like AirPods. You get a stylish backpack in a trendy color (cool!) and you improve your visibility, ultimately making you safer on the go (practical!).

Fred Perry Twin Tipped Polo, $89

Fred Perry Twin Tipped Polo, $89
Graphic: Chelsea Stone
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Editor’s note: It’s come to our attention that this polo has been co-opted by neo nazis, so it’s probably inadvisable for you to buy it. We weren’t aware of the connection prior to publishing, but we appreciate you writing in with your concerns.

Prefer your neon on the “accent” side? Check out this polo shirt from Fred Perry with just a hint of neon on the collar and sleeves. Wear it with black jeans and driving shoes for a look that says, “Are you also heading out east this weekend?”

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Scotch & Soda Bermuda Bright Swim Trunks, $98

Scotch & Soda Bermuda Bright Swim Trunks, $98
Graphic: Chelsea Stone
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Playful and punchy, this pair of Scotch & Soda swim trunks are what end-of-summer dreams are made of. You don’t have to worry about if they match the rest of your outfit, because there is no rest of your outfit. Oh, and an extra bonus? Magenta goes great with a tan.

Adidas ZX Torsion Sneakers, $140

Adidas ZX Torsion Sneakers, $140
Graphic: Chelsea Stone
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What’s old is new again, and these hi-vis Adidas sneakers give off major ’90s vibes. Yes, in a good way. While you could wear them with a Starter jacket and windpants (RIP our stellar middle school wardrobes), in the year of our lord 2019 you’d probably be better off keeping the rest of your look understated. Think darker hues like forest green, browns, and yes, navy that will go nicely with the impending autumn season.


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About the author

Megan Collins

Megan Collins started Style Girlfriend to help guys look and feel their best. Today, she and her team share tips, tricks, and shortcuts to a closet that inspires confidence.