Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just the Basics – Dress to Conceal


I spent 21 years of my life concerned with my military dress. Pressed shirts, a straight “gig” line, a “proper” hair cut . . . . habits pretty well engrained into my soul. Honestly, not much has changed – I still like creased pants, a pressed dress shirt and my hair would simply fall out if allowed to grow much past the “pinger” level. However, some things have changed to help accommodate the concealment of my carry weapon. I suspect you, too have made adjustments or will if you are just beginning your carry lifestyle.

I want to make just a quick detour and chat about my views of open carry vs. concealed carry. These are MY views – other folks will feel differently, and that’s just fine. I do not open carry – period. I am reluctant to give up any tactical advantage I may gain by having a concealed weapon the bad guy doesn’t know about. I don’t want to draw additional attention just because I carry a defensive weapon – no need to go out of my way to make myself a target. And, it avoids the paranoid fool who sees a weapon on my side and scream “ZOMG – GUNNNNNNNN!”. Concealed is better – IMHO, of course, you are more than welcome to form your own.

One further element in this mix of dressing to conceal – you have chosen to carry. This is a BIG choice that has the potential for life changing consequences. Do not make this decision lightly. For the purpose of this article, I am making a couple of assumptions (yes, yes – I know – assumptions, bear with me).

  • You are fully licensed in your state to carry concealed.
  • You are fully aware of precisely where you CAN and CAN NOT carry within your state and community.
  • You have had training in employing your weapon from concealment.
  • You continue to work diligently on your draw and engagement of a mortal threat.

If you find any of these points onerous . . . . please reconsider your decision to carry. A person without proper licensing, without an awareness of where they can carry, without any training and without the ability to quickly, safely and accurately deploy their weapon . . . . is simply putting themselves and those they may be trying to protect at greater risk. You have all the time in the world . . . NOW . . . to prepare, do it!

All that said, let’s talk about clothing. For the ladies reading this, my apologies – this is most certainly from a guy’s point of view. A handful of Polo, print and dress shirts, couple pair of jeans and khakis, my “shooter pants”, and a suit – my wardrobe is complete. I envision the carry options as a bit more complicated for women because their range of wardrobe is more extensive in my experience . . . . (why do I feel like I’m diggin’ a hole here . . . .). I have a friend with a YouTube channel called “limatunes”. She is by far the best on the net describing concealed carry for women. I’m not even going to try and touch the topic of ladies clothing and concealed carry. I will simply say if you are a lady and are going to carry concealed – you need to go and review some of her videos.

For guys, let me talk about the adjustments I made, major components I believe you need to look at and what my choices have been.

Holsters: I carry with an Inside the Waist Band holster. I use the Blackhawk leather holster and I carry it at the 4 o’clock position on my dominant side. I prefer IWB for the added concealment my pants give and I seem to be able to find a more comfortable spot to put my weapon. Obviously your body and holster choices may well be different. My main concern is that you find a comfortable holster and spot on your body to carry. If it is NOT comfortable, you will NOT carry – it’s that simple.

Shirts: Gone are my tucked in shirts with the straight “gig” line. In are dark polo shirts, print shirts meant to be worn outside my pants and a variety of 5.11 carry shirts that offer easy access to my defensive weapon. A looser fitting shirt – be it print or polo – will offer you better concealment. You do not want to have a tight fitting shirt with a clear print of your Glock clearly visible. Darker colors, shirts with prints all help you better conceal your carry weapon.

Pants: Khaki pants, jeans and 5.11 TacLite Pro “shooter pants” are my traditional wardrobe. All work well. However, when you are buying pants – here are a few thoughts. TAKE YOUR GUN! Try the pants on, with your defensive weapon in its holster as part of the whole “do these darn things fit??” process. Nothing is more frustrating that spending $50+ on a pair of pants only to get home – slip your gun/holster on – and find out you need to get pants just a bit bigger.

Undershirts: I have taken to wearing a black UnderArmor or some other poly undershirt. Since my Glock and Springfield 1911 are black and my holster is also black leather – the black T-Shirt aids in the concealment if I raise my dominant side arm enough that my shirt rides above my belt. It doesn’t happen frequently, but it does happen.

Belts: The word “sturdy” means something – and you need a sturdy belt if you are going to carry two pounds of weapon and ammunition on your side. For my casual dress, I am fond of Cabela’s leather belts. They are well made and easily carry the extra load of a fully loaded Glock 17 or a Springfield 1911. For daily dress of jeans or tactical pants – I have settled on 5.11’s belts. I have a couple of their double sided belts – they are well made and certainly strong enough to carry my fully loaded defensive weapons.

A life style change: I have changed the way I dress. On those few occasions when I am going somewhere I know I am not allowed to carry – I DO NOT change the way I dress on that particular day. I look the “same” every day – whether I am unarmed, carrying my Glock 17 or carrying my Springfield 1911. It helps me “blend in” better, raises fewer questions like – “so, are you carrying today??”, and reinforces the habit of carrying each and every day.

I obviously need to work on my taking-a-picture-in-a-mirror skills, but this will give you a quick idea of what my daily wear typically looks like. Khaki pants, polo shirt and a concealed weapon:

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Hopefully, you get the idea.

Take a look at your wardrobe. Evaluate which items you wear that conceal your defensive weapon well, and which do not. Change your clothing and your carry methods so you can easily carry each and every day. Incorporate these changes into your daily life. Then . . .

. . . . carry our damn gun . . . . EVERY DAY!


  1. And NO damn shoot me first vests...

  2. OLD NFO - LOL, yep, NO shoot me first vests. For those unfamiliar with the term, these are the vests the "tacticool" guys wear to broadcast how badass they are. And in so doing, put a big target on their chest. They are popular for IDPA shoots, but I would encourage you to wear your everyday carry clothes - and not a "shoot me first" vest! :)

  3. Although, I would argue 99% of the population(including most bad guys) has no clue what a shoot me vest is or that a person all tact'ed out might be carrying a gun.