A guide to women’s clothing selection for concealed carry


You have a lot to think about before you leave the house—and if you’re a concealed carrier, making sure your firearm is hidden, secure, and easily accessible is a big one. Concealment isn’t just about putting your pistol underneath a heavy sweater—it’s about blending in and feeling confident in your ability to defend yourself, no matter the occasion or the season.

That means you’re going to want to think about the times and settings in which you’ll be carrying. You might find a cute blazer that perfectly conceals your pistol, but that’s not going to work if you rarely have occasion to dress for the office. On the other hand, if you’re interested in concealed carry while simply out and about in your hometown, tactical clothing is probably not the right idea.

Here are some other things to keep in mind as you choose items that allow you to carry safely and effectively.

Concealed carry on the waist

Many women choose to carry on their waist because it’s convenient, it’s comfortable, and it provides a number of options when it comes to holstering, including inside the waistband (holster tucked into your pants) or outside the waistband (holster outside pants)

Inside the waistband

If you’re carrying inside the waistband, you’ll need a little room in your pants to accommodate your holster. So, make sure to consider the size and fit of your pants—especially if there’s no stretch to the fabric. Since sizes in women’s clothing often vary wildly between styles and brands (and that includes vanity sizing in some brands, which may not reflect the accurate size), you’ll want to take extra care when choosing pieces for your concealed carry wardrobe.

It’s not absolutely necessary to size up—and it might actually be detrimental to do so. Generally speaking, if you can fit two fingers inside your waistband, you’re good to go. Lycra is your friend. One last thing: If you’re dressing for comfort, you won’t have to abandon your favorite pair of leggings if the waistband is snug and sturdy.

Outside the waistband

If you’re carrying outside your waistband, it’s a good idea to buy get a sturdy belt on which to secure your holster. Dainty is dangerous. If you’re looking for something in leather, go for a thicker belt in full-grain leather and possibly reinforced with synthetic material to prevent stretching and sagging over time. There are also a number of solid nylon options that provide a more tactical look, feel and function.

No matter which method you choose, the bottom line is you’re going to want to provide your pistol and holster with a solid foundation. Why? Most firearms designed for concealed carry are relatively compact, but still average about a pound to a pound and a half. If you’re not mindful of the fit and material of the clothing at your waist, it can snag, tangle or otherwise obstruct your access to your firearm.

A note on printing

Depending on how you carry and the size of your firearm, you’re going to have to keep the outline of your weapon in mind. In the context of concealed carry, printing is a bad thing. It means the outline of your firearm is identifiable by the bulge it makes beneath your clothing. And, depending on the fit of your clothes and the season, it can present a real problem. Finding clothing that masks printing might take some experimentation and a little more forethought. When it comes to concealment, baggier is better—but that’s not always possible, or—let’s face it—on trend.

If you’re aiming for a more tailored, fitted style, bold prints and patterns can go a long way toward masking your firearm’s profile. It works the same way as camouflage does when you’re out in the field. Bonus: It’ll make a statement whatever the occasion without drawing attention to the fact that you can quickly draw a firearm.

To get this right, it's going to take some trial and error—and your best bet is to tailor your holster choice to the tailoring of your clothing. Remember to practice drawing and dry firing whenever you change things up.

Concealed carry in a handbag or purse

Sometimes, the clothing you wear—whether it’s the fit or the fabric—just doesn’t lend itself to wearing your weapon on your body. The good news is that, since many women don’t leave home without a purse, you’re not going to look out of place when you carry this way.

If you’re choosing to carry your pistol in a bag, your options are almost limitless if your firearm and its holster physically fit inside the bag (but not too snugly). There’s an entire industry dedicated to concealed-carry purses and handbags—from styles that include built-in holsters to all sorts of inserts that can turn any of your existing purses or handbags into a safe and dependable concealed-carry option.

The right bag can add an exclamation point of style and safety to any outfit—just make sure your firearm is properly secured inside, especially if you’re retrofitting one of the bags you already own. Remember to cut down on the clutter that has inevitably built up over time. You don’t want to conceal your weapon so well that you’ve hidden it from yourself when you need it most.

Remember, your priorities with any purse or handbag must be safety (first and foremost) and accessibility.

Concealed carry in a thigh holster

For almost any occasion, there’s the right dress—which makes a thigh holster a convenient option for women who want to concealed carry in style. A thigh holster—especially when worn on the inside of the thigh—is a great option for concealment if you’re wearing your pistol under a dress or skirt. Not only does it make concealing your weapon a breeze, it’s typically easily and safely accessible, too.

Speaking of breeze, here’s a caveat: When thinking about carrying beneath a dress or skirt, consider the weather for the day you’ll be out and about. If it’s going to be blustery, consider the length and construction of your dress. We’re not being prudish here—a strong gust can reveal items you’d rather keep secret…like the loaded 1911 strapped to your leg.

If you’re carrying on your thigh, under a dress, also make sure to keep in mind the kind and amount of material you’re working with. Too much loose fabric can make it tricky to quickly find your firearm and it might get snagged when you do.

Fashion designers are getting in on the concealed carry industry, too, which means you have options when it comes to buying dresses specifically made to make concealed carry an easy option at any occasion. A little research here can go a long way and we encourage you to stay up-to-date on the latest advancements.

Concealed carry bras

In recent years, there’s been an uptick in the number of women who choose to concealed carry—and the clothing industry is catching up with the trend by providing more options for holstering than ever before.

Many women choose to attach a holster to their bras for comfort and convenience and you can find a number of quality options that are not only designed with fit and safety in mind, but are also fabricated from materials designed to resist sweat and oils—and are also machine washable.

With a little extra time and effort, you can choose that maximize both style and safety. If you’re serious about carrying your firearm in public, it’s worth putting some extra work into this often-overlooked facet of concealed carry.

Beginner or advanced, you can always improve your shooting technique.