Take the stress out of shopping for concealed carry outfits!
Today I’m talking to my plus size ladies out there. Some of you might be ready to give up on the whole idea of concealed carry because you can’t find anything that fits just right, or you don’t know how to dress to conceal your firearm and are resorting to purse carry, or just leaving the gun in the safe all together. DON’T GIVE UP!
I know it’s frustrating to try and navigate the waters of concealed carry as a woman. Lots of people talk about holsters, the perfect gun for women, news stories of how a person with a concealed carry gun saved the day, but few address concealing a gun on a larger body. Many larger women already find it difficult to shop for clothes that fit them well, and throwing the monkey wrench of Concealed Carry into the mix is often intimidating or confusing. As a plus sized woman myself, I’m here to tell you that it’s not impossible! It might take some time and experimentation to find the fit and styles that make your concealed carry holster all but undetectable, but you can do it, and you may be surprised by the new sense of confidence being dressed for your body type can give you!
Remember, the rule of thumb is always to distract the eye away from any possible printing of the gun through your clothing.
I want you to think about the clothes you feel your best in. What do you like about them? Do they flatter your best feature? Make you look taller/shorter? Do they camouflage an area you feel self-conscious about? Do you get a lot of compliments when you wear a certain top? Does the color or fit just make you feel happy? Aim to fill your closet with clothes like that! Clothes you feel confident and comfortable in. Fortunately, if a top flatters your shape, it’s quite probable that it will also work well as a concealed carry shirt, though you may need to make a few adjustments here and there.
Now think about your concealed carry holster and gun. Will those clothes work with you, or against you? Don’t try a holster on once and give up if it’s poking you, or if it’s visible under your clothes. Almost all holsters, and outfits, can be shifted, tweaked, or adjusted to work, and while all holsters take getting used to, it shouldn’t be painful.
Do you have to buy a whole new wardrobe for concealed carry? Probably not, although we all love an excuse to buy new clothes! However, you may want to augment your closet to include a handful of tops, pants, skirts etc. that you can wear when carrying your gun outside of the house. At home you may not care if your gun is visible, but you definitely don’t want it playing peekaboo when you’re grocery shopping or going to church!
Wearing a skin tight top over skinny jeans probably isn’t going to be your best option, but get creative! You don’t need to look like a frump to conceal a gun, but generally speaking, looser fit not only conceals better, it’ll be more comfortable as well.
So, with that said, here are my top tips for dressing that fabulous body of yours to conceal your gun! Patterns Now, you don’t want to go walking around looking like an optical illusion and make people dizzy, but patterned fabrics can be your friend when it comes to concealing a firearm! Don’t like florals? How about plaid, or stripes; paisleys or animal prints? Even a subtle or small pattern on a fabric, or variation in color or tone can minimize the appearance of any odd lumps under your clothing made by the holster or the gun. Tie dye or camouflage anyone?
Texture Pleats, gathers, ruffles, ruches, tucks, sequins, lace, bows, fringe, buttons, straps, embellishments oh my...the options are endless! We larger ladies tend to be overly blessed in the bust department, so you’ll probably want to steer clear of big ruffles or bows around the neckline, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to boring t-shirts or shirts that resemble a tent. Find tops that draw the eye away from wherever the holster is. Maybe it has a pleated yoke with a flattering neckline and some lace around the hem. Or perhaps some elastic gathering on the sides that creates folds in the fabric in strategic places...the sky is the limit!
Cut Find tops that flatter your best features, and minimize or conceal your trouble spots, and you’re likely to find that they also work great for covering up a holster! Materials cut on the bias can be problematic, since they tend to cling to every hill and valley, so aim for fabrics that will skim the body and fall loosely over the hip. If you have a narrow waist and wider hips, dress to show off that waist with an empire cut top, or one that has a fun flounce below the waist. Alternately, tops that have a tighter hemline but are more blousy around the middle are wonderful if you’re wearing a bra or corset style holster. A tie at the hemline can create some great folds and drape and cover up all sorts of printing from your gun. Or maybe a shirt with an asymmetrical cut or embellishment flatters your shape. Perhaps it has a flap of fabric that drapes over a bottom layer, or a fun sleeve or hemline that draws the eye. Have fun with it! Some styles to stay away from: For a waist holster - anything too short, thin, or tight, that will only accentuate the gun’s outline. One color shirts are fine, as long as they fit properly.
Now I know you’re going to ask me: “But Rebekah, I practically live in yoga pants and tunic tops...can I still wear a holster? Yes, you can, but you’re going to have to be intentional about what kind of holster you chose (worn on the body instead of clipped to pants), and you may need to retire your favorite ratty t-shirt if it’s too short or tight. Make sure any shirts are long enough to reach the bottom of the holster, but if they aren’t, you can always wear a long tank top underneath! Accessorize Pair a plain shirt with a chunky necklace. Fix an awkward cut with a nice belt. Loop a gauzy scarf or cowl around your neck to add interest and draw the eye closer to your face. A handbag over the shoulder or on the arm can be wonderful for covering up any possible printing near the hip or waist. Love flashy bracelets? Go for it! Wear some great shoes to add visual appeal to any outfit. Accessories can be a great way of keeping the eye of the beholder interested and distracted from noticing any telltale signs of carrying a gun.
Layer it up Throw on a cardigan or shawl, light jacket or button down shirt over a tank top or tee. It breaks up the lines of your body and adds movement to your outfit; all excellent camouflage! Alternately, pick tops that have layers built in! A body-hugging tank top worn under your shirt can pull double duty by lengthening the visual hemline of your top shirt, as well as pulling the holster and gun a bit closer to your body, and smoothing the outlines of it. Make it a tank with lace edging and you’ve just added some more visual distraction!
Strut your stuff Most of all, be confident! Walk with your head high and a swagger in your step if you like. Pull your shoulders back and push your chest out...good posture allows your shirt to drape to best advantage, creating space between your body and the fabric. You may feel very self-conscious about the fact you have a gun hidden under your clothing, but no one else needs to know! Most people aren’t scrutinizing you for a hidden gun, so while you should dress with care when carrying concealed, don’t stress about it. Don’t give in to the concealed carry fidget. You know what I mean...constantly tugging on your shirt to make sure the gun is covered, or touching the holster through your clothes to assure yourself it’s still there or adjust the position. It may sound silly, but it’s a real thing, and even seasoned carriers do it! Even if your outfit is perfect and the gun isn’t visible, constantly checking on it, or tugging on your clothing can alert people that something is going on with you, prompting them to look closer. If you need to check, glance in nearby windows or mirrors, excuse yourself to go to the restroom, or ask your significant other or friend to discreetly check you for printing. Always check yourself out in the mirror before leaving the house to make sure your outfit is doing a good job, and do a quick check and adjustment when getting out of a car or off a couch, but otherwise...hands off!
I’ve included a few links to sites I’ve found helpful in shopping for plus size clothes, but if you’re shopping in person, you may want to wear your holster (with or without gun, depending on the store), into the dressing room, or just keep your empty holster in your purse for that purpose. You may be surprised at what kinds of clothes do a great job at concealing it, and which ones don’t. Pretty soon you’ll know exactly what works for your body and your gun and the bargain hunting can commence!
Thrift stores can be wonderful places to find styles beyond what’s just in season that year, and you can find quality clothes for a bargain!
Ross, Marshalls and TJ Maxx are great places to find discount clothing, and you can't beat a good thrift store for bargains!
I hope these tips have been helpful, and have eased some of your concerns, fears, or confusion about concealed carry as a larger woman. You have so many options open to you, so experiment and have fun with it! I’d love to hear your success stories, as well as any questions you have, so feel free to message me! Happy shopping!
What things have you found to be helpful when carrying concealed? Do you have just a handful of go-to tops when you're leaving the house? Or did you adjust your whole wardrobe to be easy to conceal your gun in?