Tim Cooper, Family 1st Defense
If you are a new CPL holder who chooses to carry, it won’t take long to realize that your wardrobe will need to change. Unfortunately, the mainstream fashion industry does not design garments and handVisit Sitebags to comfortably accommodate holsters and hide your firearm; and ladies, it’s unfortunate but true, you’re likely to find it especially challenging to dress fashionably while carrying.
Niche “tactical” clothing retailers have traditionally catered to military, law enforcement, and EMT personnel. However, with more and more members of the civilian population choosing to carry firearms, these retailers have a new demographic — average men and women who want to conceal handguns and do it without sacrificing style.
For tactical clothing, there are some brands out there gaining a solid reputation for bridging the gap between functionality and fashion. One of them is 5.11 Tactical. This retailer sells an ever-increasing selection of clothing and accessories for concealed carry, and some of 5.11’s latest offerings look pretty cool too. For example, 5.11’s new “Defender Flex Slim” pants for men and women deliver a stylish fit with a modern cotton-poly fabric blend that provides just the right amount of elasticity. The result is some trendy, uber-comfortable pants that stretch to accommodate an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, and provide a couple of covert pockets for gear like magazines, flashlights, and phones. All 5.11 Tactical garments are extremely well made, with quality stitching, zippers and fasteners. I own a couple pair of the Defender Flex pants – they are the most comfortable ones in my closet.
For those of you looking to incorporate a concealed handgun into your exercise routine or warm weather wardrobe, take a look at UnderTech. This company specializes in undergarments like compression shorts, leggings and belly bands with sewn-in holsters. They keep your firearm snug against your body. Often times a light jacket or loose-fitting, untucked tee shirt is all you need to cover up the “print” of your handgun.
Many women prefer to carry handguns off-body in a purse or handbag. There are plenty of holster options out there available to retrofit an existing purse. Though many claim universal fit, don’t be surprised to read mixed reviews. There is no such thing as a universal holster, let alone a universal holster that fits all purses. Check out the Well Armed Woman website. Among other things, you will find a great selection of concealed carry purses and totes, some with steel-reinforced shoulder straps for a more secure cross-body orientation.
So, the good news is you don’t have to wear baggy cargo pants or schlep a camo pack to conceal your handgun. However, it’s a good bet that local retailers will only stock a limited selection of fashionable “tacticalware” at best. That means you will have to shop online and prepare yourself for a few rounds of returns while you learn what works and what doesn’t. With clothing, once you find something that meets your requirements, consider purchasing a few more items in your size. You will find that popular, highly-rated brands sell out quickly and may be difficult to find elsewhere.
Good luck with your shopping, carry responsibly, and keep it hidden!