A few days last week, I commuted to work looking 50% like I was Lance Armstrong, in a long sleeved blue cycling jersey, and 50% like a jeans-wearing valley nerd. It looked silly.
Last year, I was wearing a long-sleeved synthetic t-shirt with a long-sleeved collared shirt layered atop. For some reason, this year, I dispensed with the collared shirt. I think it probably goes down to a resurgence in my vanity. These days, I'm looking trim, so I don't need that extra layer disguising chub that's not there. And if Steve Jobs can wander around in a black long sleeved shirt and jeans and look intellectual, why can't I?
Either way, the most effective way to not get cold while riding was to wear a lightweight jacket to keep the wind off. I paid $30 for it maybe two years ago and wore it quite a bit, so it was probably good and worn out by this point. Also, it had one of those funky two-way zippers. Complexity often just means more stuff to break.
This time, I decided to get a cycling-oriented jacket, because that's all it gets used for anyway. This means that it's longer in the back and shorter in the front and designed such that it won't flap in the wind while I'm riding.
Now, I'm a fan of making reasonable attempts at high-visibility clothing. Retroreflective fabric incorporating microspheres ("Scotchlite") is great stuff. I tend to like bright colors. Both tend to increase your chances of being seen by drivers, especially when they've got headlights on. But it's completely unnecessary to make an entire jacket vividly colored. Some good patches of color and some good patches of retroreflective materials (especially the stuff that's black under normal light and brilliant white when headlights shine on it) are going to work just as well but look a little bit more normal. And, by wearing layers and layers of specialized safety gear is just perpetuating the myth of cycling as an extremely dangerous activity.
Mostly I'm just annoyed because they only had yellow or red. And either color tends to clash with other stuff I'm likely to wear.
It's totally more comfortable on the bike. It's got elastic in the right parts, such that it won't let wind in through the sleeves or neck. It's longer in the back and shorter in front. It has pockets placed under the assumption that I'm going to be hunched over.
The thing I've had to point out to people is that, while I just spent $75 on a fancy jacket and various other amounts of money on stuff, it's still peanuts compared to keeping a car going.