Take a tour through the comment section of any concealed carry article, and I guarantee you’ll witness the phrase, “dress around the gun.”
What exactly does this mean?
Usually, the phrase is a way to say that in order to conceal carry well, you must buy an entirely new wardrobe dedicated to hiding your gun.
While this might work for some folks, for most, dressing around the gun is difficult, if not entirely impractical.
Revamping your entire wardrobe is pretty costly. Not to mention, careers and lifestyle play a big factor in day-to-day clothing.
You can’t easily march in and tell your boss you’re not wearing your uniform or professional attire because you want to carry a gun.
So what’s a concealed carrier to do?
The good news is, you don’t have to dress around your gun. Instead, you can take what you already have hanging in your closet and make it work for you.
We’re going to talk about why you can ditch dressing around your gun and what you can do instead to make concealed carry work for your lifestyle.
For some added tips, check out Brownells Daily Defense Episode 2 for some solid advice from Jeff Gonzales of Trident Concepts.
Tips to Make Your Wardrobe Work
Ok, so you’re ready to stop trying to dress around the gun and instead work with what you already have.
How do you achieve that?
With a few simple steps, my friends. Read on…
1. Consider the Gun
The first stop — evaluate the gun or guns you intend to use for concealed carry.
If your go-to is a Glock 17, that requires a little more creativity in the wardrobe department than a Sig Sauer P238.
But that’s useful information to have. If you know you’re only going to carry full-size guns, what you choose to wear will need to pair with those types of firearms.
Also, determine how often you intend to carry. Are you going to pack a gun only when you meet shady people off Craigslist, or do you want to carry every day?
Will you limit carrying to errands and grocery runs, or will you pack heat while doing yard work?
Ironing those details out will help you better evaluate your current wardrobe and whether it can sustain your carry goals.
All in all, you want to make sure your intentions align with your lifestyle.
If you need some firearm inspiration, take a look at our list of best concealed carry guns.
2. Consider the Mode of Carry
Once you’ve nailed down the types of guns, you’ll carry and the frequency, it’s time to consider how you’ll actually do it.
There are two distinct modes of carry: conventional and unconventional.
Conventional carry modes, like Inside-the-Waistband, Appendix-Inside-the-Waistband, and Outside-the-Waistband, are the standard for most gun owners.
IWB, AIWB, and OWB are the “go-to” modes for most concealed carriers, providing the most versatility as they tend to work with the greatest amount of outfits.
Unconventional carry, on the other hand, is more specialized. This genre contains pocket, ankle, purse, and clothing holsters.
While they might offer an advantage with one or two outfit types, they won’t work with everything.
They also tend to come with their own set of quirks that you’ll need to train to.
Knowing how you intend to carry, again, helps narrow down clothing options. If pocket carry is your preferred choice, then you definitely need outfits with pockets. (Sorry, ladies, this one is darn near impossible for us.)
So, decide on your mode of carry, and then…it’s time to head to the closet.
3. Look in Your Closet
With your gun and method of carry squared away, you can move to the fun part…picking through your closet!
When looking for things to wear for concealed carry, start with darker colors and heavier cotton, if possible. These tend to reduce printing of the gun.
Also, patterns are your friend! Plaids, polka dots, stripes, florals…all of these do an excellent job at breaking up the outline of a hidden gun.
For ladies stressing about tighter clothes, accessories do wonders to draw the eye up and away from your beltline. Chunky necklaces, sparkly earrings, a well-placed scarf…all these can help you better conceal.
Don’t be afraid to get creative! Mix and match outfits with your unloaded, holstered gun. Throw a button-up shirt over a band tee, test out various colors in your closet, try on different cuts of shirts and take note of which ones work with your body and gun.
A large factor in successfully concealed carrying comes down to trial and error.
In some cases, after taking your clothes for a concealed carry test drive, you might notice gaps in your wardrobe. There might be one or two extra pieces you need to make everything sync together.
As you head to the store to grab an extra piece or two of clothing, keep in mind what worked. If low-rise jeans printed more, but your mid-rise performed better, make sure to grab more mid-rise.
Avoid things that didn’t work and focus on apparel that you know worked.
Once you’ve set aside the clothes you know work concealed carry, I suggest organizing your closet so all these can hang out together.
This makes getting dressed straightforward. You don’t have to worry about whether something works or doesn’t in the early morning hours.
4. Putting it All Together
So, you’ve got the gun, holster, know how you’re carrying, and you’ve identified pieces of your wardrobe that definitely work for concealed carry.
Where do you go from here?
Now you put it all together and practice. Before you head out the door strapped, do some dry fire drills at home with your CCW clothes and an unloaded gun.
This will help you assess any inadequacies or quirks in your outfit choice. Plus, dryfire practice is always a good thing!
After you’re confident in your clothing choice, don’t be afraid to hit the range in your attire for one final confirmation that it all works together as intended.
Don’t feel pressured to dress around the gun. There’s no need to! Simply evaluate your wardrobe alongside your gun and holster. You’ll undoubtedly find items in your own closet that also work for concealed carry.
For more advice, check out Brownells’ Daily Defense Episode 2.
What do you think of dressing around the gun? Let us know in the comments below. For more on concealed carry, check out all our CCW articles in Concealed Carry [The Definitive Guide].