Forget pepper spray. Disguise yourself as a vending machine for safety.

Picture this: You're walking alone late at night, minding your own business, when suddenly you realize you're being followed. What do you do? How about turning the corner and  pulling your skirt over your head?

That's exactly what an inventor in Japan thinks women should do if they find themselves in these circumstances. Designer Aya Tsukioka's skirt can be worn by day, then turned into a (realistic?) vending-machine disguise when needed, simply by flipping it over one's head.

Of course, there are some limitations to this brilliant idea. For one, you'd have to wear this damn skirt every day of your life in order for it to be useful when you need it. For another,  your feet show. And third, what if you're in a location where there would not likely be a vending machine, like an elevator or a subway station?

Ms. Tsukioka says the idea was inspired by a trick used by Japanese ninja assassins, who cloaked themselves in black blankets so they couldn't be seen at night. While that's a pretty cool inspiration, I don't think you could hide yourself behind a black blanket these days anymore than you can pretend to be a vending machine. Also, why would only women want to use this thing? Aren't men afraid of being mugged or attacked at night as well?

It would make a pretty good Halloween costume, though.

[photos from The New York Times]

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