Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cover it Up

So, I've been thinking a lot lately about cover garments, and the differences between men and women trying to conceal a gun.

Let's face it, if you're a man, you can probably get away with throwing a wild-ass Hawaiian print shirt over a t-shirt, and you're good. Your wife or girlfriend may sigh, but it's not that big a deal.

Women, on the other hand, have further considerations. I'm not the best fashionista, but even I know that there are times when being baggy and loose may be comfy but probably isn't the best choice. Not to mention, if you're doing it all the time, people start thinking of you as "butch" and that may not be the impression you'd like to send.

I hate being treated like I'm going to break but let's face it there's not much I can do to avoid the delicate look, and the best I can hope for is elegant, which seems to involve lots of long lines and garments that scream "look at me, I have a waist!"

Add in the difficulties posed by women's fashion in concealment in general, and you've got a bit of a pickle.

So, lets address a couple of the problems I've come across and how I get around them. Your mileage may vary.

First, pants. Every woman has that pair of pants that they absolutely adore, the pair that looks good, feels good, and brings a little attitude to her step. Unfortunately that pair of jeans is rarely good for concealing a firearm.

This is one of those moments where you have to compromise. Either you can have the cute outfit that makes you look smokin' hot, or you can carry a gun. Now, I'm not saying that it's impossible to look smokin' hot while stashing a heater, but you have to go about it differently.

Instead of the shirt that just hits the top of your jeans when you reach over your head, you might have to go with something longer. Or instead of the smokin' hot jeans, you might have to go with slightly less hot and more roomy jeans.

Speaking of shirts, it also seems that the t-shirts available (in my size, marketed for my age range, YMMV and do please share in comments because information is a good thing) are leaning towards lightweight and clingy. Not tight, just a light enough material and fitted enough to cling to curves, which is a nice look, but not practical when you're trying to conceal a pistol. I've got one cute top that makes me look like I actually have cleavage (woohoo) and hangs loose and flowy from what I'm told is called an empire waist. The only problem with it is that it apparently looks a bit like a maternity top, but some nights the cleavage is totally worth it.

Personally, when I'm not going somewhere I can't carry, or somewhere that I really don't need to conceal, I like the combination of wranglers, a tank top, and a western shirt tied in front instead of tucked. My gun goes behind my hip, just forward of center over my right butt cheek. The wranglers are just heavy enough to keep the gun inside my waistband from printing obviously, and the bagging of the shirt at the back covers the grip and helps break up the line of the jeans to distract from any printing that might happen anyway.

Another jeans trick that I've heard positive things about but am just not frilly enough to pull off is finding a pair of jeans that has some decorative beading in the area your gun usually rests, or creating your own design. It's a bit counter intuitive because you would think that it would attract the eye to the gun, but the patterning helps blur the outline of the gun, much like camo helps blur the outline of a hunter in the woods. This may be an excellent option if you're a girly girl who would wear that stuff anyway cause it's cute. Unfortunately I'm not one of those people, so this is not an option for me.

It's also tough to remember that what's obvious to you may not be to Joe Blow on the street. Because you know your gun is there and that's what is making that bulge, you're going to see a gun, where Joe Blow may not even see a bulge. Get a second opinion. And a third. Etc. You may wind up saying "drat" a few times over a great look, but you'll start getting an idea of what other people actually see versus what you see because you know what's going on.

Of course, I carry IWB mostly. OWB presents it's own set of problems, since you're not worried about printing so much as actually flashing your gun. Since I don't really carry OWB when I'm not open carrying, I haven't really dealt with those issues much.

So how about it folks, what are your tips and tricks for concealing, and still looking fantastic?


BC said...

I have been pocket carrying for the last 6 months or so, and nobody has noticed; even in pants with pockets where the grip of my LCR is almost visible from the opening of the pocket. But, I'm a guy with guy clothing and a fair bit of other stuff (light, knife, etc) on me.

My (fairly limited) experience with ladies clothing suggests that pants tend to have smaller pockets. Is pocket carry an option for you?

Lokidude said...

Not a chick (obviously), but some things are universal, or at least observable from the other side of the street.

Belts. No matter whether IWB or OWB, male or female, a good belt is critical, and is a point I've been trying to drive home to Bex. Find a sturdy leather one that still looks cute. Also, I've known plenty of very feminine girls who prefer the tank top and overshirt ensemble for daily wear.

Oh, and GG over at www.girlsheartguns.com has some good ideas and tips on how to carry and be fashionable.

Anonymous said...

My hubby can pocket carry but none of my chick jeans have big enough pockets. I have the same issues as you, don't really want to look frumpy all the time but don't want my gun showing either. I recently posted a video on my site from faliaphotography, she shows several other options too.

bluesun said...

I find that OWB with a nice button down short sleeve shirt, worn untucked (Goodwill is your friend) is comfortable and easy.

Anonymous said...

Bah Humug,

I submit to you the idea of nude open carry. All reasonably fit women should carry nude in full view. Ideally with a well armed male individual in close proximity. This would allow proper oogling without the threat of actual physical oogling. Showing off the feminine physique while packing. Who could ask for anything more!

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Watch this: she wears cute things!


I'm trying to find things for carry myself. Though we have very different body types, I'm keeping an eye on this space, too.

Peter said...

For those who find pockets too small to carry a gun, there's an easy fix. Cut the seam at the bottom of the pocket, add material to the length required, sew it to the original pocket, and close the bottom. Your pocket is now deep enough for your pistol.

I've done this with many pairs of jeans, which seem to have pockets that grow shallower by the year!

WV - 'pruse' - a dyslexic purse??? :-)

Evyl Robot Michael said...

I got a little Déjà vu reading this post! :D

FarmGirl said...

The problem with women's pants and pocket carry is twofold: the pockets are shallow and the openings are small. When the openings are large enough, they generally wrap around the side of the hip, effectively reducing the size of the opening.

There are probably pants that would work out there but then we're back into baggy territory I think.

Jennifer said...

Honestly, I don't do anything special in regards to pants. I just shove the thing right on into my waist-band. I will say though, skirts are great. You don't have to mess with the gun when you go the bathroom. Just hike that thing right on up. I was never a big fan of skirts before. (I'm not exactly a girly girl either, but you probably know that already.)
I have some cute vests that I like to use when it is warmer out. And some lightweight short sleeved shirts. And since I work in an office, ladies dress jackets do not seem at all out of place. In fact, weather permitting, I generally wear one when not working as well. Carrying in the winter is tons easier. I can wear cute fuzzy jackets and vests that make any printing completely disappear. Casual zip-up hoodies are great too. And if the weather gets too warm to wear one, you can tie it around your waist. Then it not only shows that you have a waist, but it camouflages the gun nicely. I haven't tried it yet, but with scarves coming back into fashion, I think an artfully tied one could do the trick nicely. Particularly one of the light weight ones with an interesting pattern. Silk and pashmina come to mind.
Open carry is absolutely not an option here, so I must be covered at all times in public. But I've noticed that a little diversion goes a long way. As long as the printing is broken up, people don't linger on the gun's profile. I've never been 'made' at the grocery store. Fellow gunnies have spotted it from time to time, but they just nod approvingly to see a petite woman taking care of herself. They really aren't the ones I'm concerned with noticing.
Ladies pants pockets are a no-go for pocket carry. Not only are they stupidly small, but that area tends to be fitted and thus you can generally tell what model of cell phone a girl has tucked in there.

Ritchie said...

While I'm the farthest thing from a fashionisto, I do note that some tees do have heavier fabric than others, giving a more forgiving drape and cling. Those become summer cover, untucked, while the lighter ones will be tucked under a sweat shirt for cooler times. I can't speak for things in the women's aisle, pleated front slacks sometimes do have the biggest pockets.

Old NFO said...

I still like Hawaiian shirts :-P

FarmGirl said...

I was thinking of you when I wrote that, NFO.

GG said...

I'm a female gun blogger and CCW'er. I have had a lot of frustration getting CCW to work for me without looking like I'm wearing a muumuu or maternity clothing.

I carry with Discreet Carry's Cleavage Holster. I don't have to alter my wardrobe much or give up the cute clothes. Another thing I do, is use layers to hide the gun. I find I can get away with a clingy, little bit see-through pink top I have if I put a black tank under it. I've got a Mini Midriff from Molly's Clothing too that helps when the shirt is to short or the pants don't come up high enough.

For pics/reviews of the holster, head over to my blog and search for "Discreet Carry." I've worn and reviewed all but one of their holsters. So far, they're the best holsters for me.

ViolentIndifference said...

Nice. I've been trying to find ideas for my lovely Mrs. In fact I posted the faliaphotography videos on my blog, too. If it can work for her, then it will work for my girl.

ViolentIndifference said...

Oh THANK YOU, GG. You get a <3 from me for your reviews. I think these are exactly what the Mrs will want when she is out jogging.

Really: Your posts will help the Mrs a lot!

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