How to Hide in Plain Sight

Three Parts:Looking InconspicuousAvoiding Attention in PublicCrafting an Effective Disguise

Most of the time, people want to stand out in a crowd. However, there are cases where it helps to go unnoticed. The trick to hiding in plain sight isn't to try to be completely invisible, but inconspicuous. If you can pass yourself off as completely average in a crowd, it will help you blend in as well as any camouflage. Hiding in plain sight involves looking boring and acting casual. Even if you're usually the sort of person that gets heads turning, there are lots of ways you can escape being noticed.

Part 1
Looking Inconspicuous

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    Hide your distinctive qualities. Everyone has at least one physical apart that sets him apart from the rest of the crowd. A particularly distinctive facial feature, tattoo, birthmark or scar will all attract attention for the fact that they make you unique. Recognize these traits in yourself, and find ways of covering them up from view.
    • For instance, if you have a striking set of eyes, donning sunglasses will remove this feature from view.
    • If you have tattoos on your arms, wearing a long sleeved shirt will cover them up.
    • If you have a distinctive facial structure, you can even out your features by growing facial hair.
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    Dress yourself down.[1] If you want to be inconspicuous, it practically goes without saying that you're not going to want to dress particularly fancy, unless you're trying to hide at a formal event. For most casual situations, it's a good idea to dress as you think a completely average person would. Avoid clothing that has distinctive logos or graphic designs on it.
    • Your dress should ultimately be dictated by the setting. If you are at a formal event, for example, dressing yourself down will only bring negative attention your way.
    • It helps to know what other people will interpret as being "normal".
    • Although bargain bin clothing is often a good choice for hiding in plain sight, there's sometimes the risk of those old clothes becoming fashionable again.[2]
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    Apply camouflage.[3] If you're in a natural setting, wearing camouflage gear will allow you to blend in with your environment. While the use of camouflage is only helpful when you're trying to hide from a distance, it's the best-known way of truly hiding in plain sight.
    • Wearing camouflage gear in a public setting will attract a lot of unwanted attention to you. Special camouflage clothes are only recommended in instances where you have a chance at being completely hidden, and not just inconspicuous.
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    Leave the accessories at home.[4] Accessories, like watches, pins, jewellery and patches, exist for the sake of making a person's appearance more distinctive. If you want to avoid attention, it's a good idea to avoid these little add-ons completely. If you're in close proximity with people, wearing a watch or necklace will make you more interesting to look at, however watches are not that conspicuous.
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    Groom yourself without style.[5] While being unkempt will attract its own sort of attention your way, a distinct hairstyle will draw eyes to you. If you want to hide in plain sight, keep your hairstyle plain and vague. Avoid anything aesthetic like hair gels or dye. Just make sure your hair is relatively clean.
    • If you usually gel your hair, go without it when you don't want to attract notice. If your hair is completely natural, there won't be as much that stands out.
    • If you have distinctive hair and don't want to lose it for the sake of hiding, wearing a hood or hat will cover it up for you.
    • An uncommon hair color(usually light-colored) or texture(i.e. big hair) relative to the crowd can be a dead giveaway, so if you have either, cover it up under a hat or something

Part 2
Avoiding Attention in Public

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    Obey the rules.[6] Nothing attracts attention like breaking fee of the norm. This is especially true if you are breaking laws. On top of risking criminal charges, you'll draw all sorts of eyes in your direction. While this applies to obvious felonies such as assault, it also encompasses things you may do innocently, such as jaywalking, or treading upon park grass. Try to keep in mind what the lawful, orderly thing to do would be in every situation you're trying to hide in.
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    Train your situational awareness.[7] A good part of hiding from someone is knowing where your seekers are looking. Even if you're trying to be inconspicuous to everyone, it helps a lot to know where people are looking, and what they're occupied with. By keeping a healthy sense of situational awareness about you, you'll be able to avoid areas where people are more aware.
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    Follow the behaviour of people around you.[8] Losing yourself in a crowd means adhering to all of the crowd's norms. If there's ever a point where you're not sure about what to do, look at the people around you for an example. Is there a common mood around? Are the people around you walking fast or slow? All of these details can be used to help you blend in.
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    Stick to near the center of the crowd. Try to avoid the fringes and the very center. Being halfway in radius to the center is least conspicuous.
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    Remain silent. Although silence isn't always possible in some situations, it is a major part of keeping a low profile. For however long you're trying to hide, avoid unnecessary conversations and interactions with others. Make as little sound as you can, even if you're in a relatively busy environment. Even something as innocuous as a cough or sneeze can draw attention to you if left unchecked.
    • When you have to use your voice, make an effort to be only half as loud as normal. This quietness should still make it capable to communicate when you need to, but you won't attract attention of anyone you don't need to.[9]
  • If you're travelling abroad, it helps to speak in the dialect or accent of the region. A foreign accent will immediately set you apart from the crowd.[10]
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    Act agreeable in conversation.[11] In some cases, you won't be able to avoid conversation with other people. If this happens to you, you should make an effort to be pleasant and agreeable, without necessarily trying to advance the conversation anywhere. Smile, nod, and agree with what's being said. If you're asked questions about yourself, keep your answers short and to the point. It is not recommended that you try to ignore or stay silent, as this will only bring unwanted attention your way.
    • The word "Yes" will be your best friend if you're trying to go unnoticed in a conversation.[12] It can be applied as a response to questions and answers alike.
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    Regulate your movements.[13] If you're trying to hide in plain sight, you may be in a stressful situation and feel anxious as a result. If this is the case, it's important to keep your movements casual. Someone who is walking faster than usual will give off anxious signals to anyone watching. Be conscious of the pace and style you're moving in. Your movements should remain fluid, without coming across as hurried or nervous.
    • If you have time to prepare in advance, it often helps to practice in front of a mirror. That way, you'll have a better idea of the ways in which others will perceive you.
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    Avoid eye contact.[14] Eye contact is an important way for two individuals to acknowledge each other. Avert your gaze from others around you. A good trick is to keep your eyes fixed on the ground ten metres ahead of you. Although you should keep your head down, you don't want to make it look obvious that you're intentionally avoiding eye contact.
    • Keep in mind that there is a difference between casually avoiding eye contact, and looking like you're deliberately averting someone's gaze.[15] You'll inadvertently attract more attention to yourself if someone gets the impression that you're trying to go undetected.
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    Aim to be in the middle of a crowd. If you're hiding in a populated environment, don't be afraid to use other people as a tool. Placing yourself in the middle of a crowd will make it more difficult to spot you. Avoid going to the front, side or back of a crowd, as these are usually the places people check first when they're looking for someone.
    • Avoid walking in less crowded places. People to tend to notice each other more when there aren't many people to look at.

Part 3
Crafting an Effective Disguise

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    Dye your hair.[16] Changing the colour of your hair is one of the easiest ways you can recreate your appearance. If you want to disguise yourself and blend in, it's a good idea to choose a hair colour that seems natural and common. Shades of black and brown are good choices in this regard.
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    Obscure your appearance with accessories. Accessories like hats and sunglasses work well to obscure someone's regular appearance. Sunglasses and a hat by themselves are a great casual disguise.[17] Other accessories like jewellery and bowties won't necessarily obscure your appearance, but they'll add a different tone to your look that others may not be used to seeing from you.
    • If you are known to dress conservatively, putting on a bunch of jewellery or flashy colours will disguise your typical identity, even if the get-up draws attention to you otherwise.
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    Age your look. You can add years to your appearance by using makeup. Squint and bit, and lightly pencil in the creases caused by your squint.[18] It's important to keep these cosmetic changes subtle. Otherwise, it will be easy to pick up on the fact that it's a disguise.
    • If you are elderly, smooth out your facial creases with skin foundation. Dying your hair to mask the grey or white will also help disguise your identity.
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    Change up your manner of walking.[19] People aren't usually conscious of the manner in which they walk. However, you can tell a fair amount about a person's character and mood by their gait. Switch your walking style to suit the disguise. If you're trying to look older, for example, you should walk slower than you normally would.
    • Walk for a bit in your typical manner, and identify your walking personality. If you're typically a fast walker, for instance, you can disguise your identity by walking slowly. Likewise, you should speed up your gait if you're a more leisurely walker.
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    Bloat your face. If you are in an area with video surveillance, you may want to take measures to change the appearance of your facial structure. Puff out your cheeks and stuff your nostrils with toilet paper to change the shape of your face.[20] This can help you escape any facial recognition technology that may be used to track you down.
    • Doing things like puffing your cheeks and filling your nostrils will help disguise your identity, but you may end up drawing more attention to yourself.
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    Use fake facial hair. Using a fake moustache is arguably the most common and famous type of disguise around. You can buy some facial hair from a costume store. Apply some spirit gum (a substance used to affix fake facial hair to actors, not SPENT gum, like chewing gum) to the area you want to have bearded, then set the disguise on your face and allow it some time to settle.
    • If you need to disguise yourself quickly and are known for your facial hair, quickly shaving it off will transform your appearance.
    • This can possibly work even if you're a female.


  • Looking at pictures of animals in camouflage may provide you with some inspiration if you're trying to hide in plain sight. Some animals can change the colour of their skin at will as a way to deter predators.[21]
  • Although hiding in plain sight can be a very effective tactic, finding a place to actually hide is arguably more dependable.
  • Your ability to hide will depend in part based on how much someone (if anyone) wants to find you.
  • A non-distinctive hat is your best friend, as it covers you and a lot of people wear them. Opt for a baseball cap or possibly toque.
  • Also, a non-distinctive jacket will work well, in the non-summer months. Puffy jackets can change the way your body looks, and all jackets conceal you to some extent.


  • If you're trying to hide because you're in danger, it is strongly recommended that you find a way to leave the area as fast as possible. Get help if it's available.
  • Although there are some cases where hiding is good, you shouldn't try to make a habit of it. In most instances, you should be proud of letting other people see who you are.

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Categories: Spying | Self Defense