*This is the second article in a series about dressing for concealed carry. Click below to get the FREE full-color, printable PDF! The Ultimate Guide to Dressing for Concealed Carry ⇐ Claim Your Guide
You can find the first in the series, “Concealed Carry in Cold Weather,” here.
Calling All Women: Concealed Carry & Fashion
Written by Anette Wachter
There are no longer any excuses for you to not carry concealed. You can look fashionable and carry at the same time. On- or off-body concealed carry has never been more fashionable or practical.
Designed by women, for women, there are many great options for us to choose from now. Gone are the days of the bulky OWB holsters built for men or the frightening concealed carry vest. Frankly, I’d rather poke my eyes out with a fork than wear the latter. We also no longer have to wear loose-fitting clothing or layers to hide our handguns.
I live in an urban environment where current fashion is part of the lifestyle. I carry daily and I want to look good doing it. Although my holster choices work with my clothes, I want them to be practical and safe as well. For the last several years, I have been testing as many of the products as I can as fast as they come out. I have boxes of rejects, and the options that passed my tests are the ones I use daily. I love that I can wear fitted clothes and dresses and no one’s the wiser that I’m carrying.
I recently gave a speech about concealed carry at a ladies’ event. I was wearing a fitted tank top and pencil skirt with high heels. It was not until the end of the talk that I revealed that I was wearing not one but three guns concealed on me. The room fell apart. Not that I would normally wear that many guns at once, but my point was made: Women can do this now.
All of the products I mention here are designed and manufactured by women. Whether you are wearing pants, skirts or dresses, there are options for you.
On-Body Carry Options for Women
Of all of the holsters I have, I mostly wear the Flashbang Holster or the Ava IWB Holster designed by Lisa Looper of the Looper Brand. I wear jeans and T-shirts a lot, so these two options are easy and comfortable.
It is well-known now that the Flashbang is a bra holster. The holster straps around the middle front of a bra and is meant for smaller subcompact guns. It does take some getting used to. At first, it is alarming knowing the muzzle is right under your breast. But the holster covers almost the entire gun and, no matter how much movement or fidgeting you might do, the gun is safely concealed. If needed, you can reach under the shirt and, with a quick snap down, draw the gun from the holster. With practice, it is a very fast way to access your firearm. I love this holster. It is available for $49.99.
The Ava, also by Looper designs, is the most comfortable IWB holster I have worn. I’m not sure if I should admit this, but I often forget I am wearing it. Lisa designs all of her holsters for the shape of women’s bodies. No matter your size, she has something that will work for you. The Ava has a colorful suede lining that does not get sweaty against your skin. As with the Flashbang, you can choose the brand of gun to fit in left- or right-handed options. It is available for $59.99.
Skirts, Shorts and More
Wearing skirts and dresses used to mean going without an on-body holster. Not anymore. An option that works for dresses and skirts is the amazing lace thigh holster made by Femme Fatale out of Texas. Femme Fatale makes corset and ankle lace holsters as well. This really is a fun and sexy accessory that has a function. The thigh holster is a wide elastic band that has extremely sticky silicone grippers at the top and bottom of the unit.
I wear the Femme Fatale lace thigh holster often, and it has not lost its grip; it really stays on, even over stockings. There is a wide pocket the gun slips into, and it will not slip out. The pocket is meant to be worn on the inside of the thigh.
At first, I thought carrying a gun this way would drive me nuts. You know you are wearing it; I will not deny that. But you get used to it, and you can still walk normally. This is not, however, for your full-sized 1911; subcompact is the way to go. The holster is available for $70.
Another great option for wear with skirts or pants are the compression shorts by UnderTech UnderCover. (You can’t really attach an IWB holster to a skirt.) The compression shorts are tight-fitting and have pockets at the back on the left and right sides. I will wear this with skirts, but mostly I wear the holster with sweatpants when I walk my dog. I trust the holster to jog with as well, as the elastic band holds a gun very snugly. They come in a three-pack set for $99.99.
Other Intimates for Concealed Carry
My most recent test holster is a corset-style unit by Dene Adams. I have seen this out for a while, but I just thought it looked like something that was not functional. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it is to wear, and it is much more concealable than I thought.
This ultra-feminine and slimming corset is a compression holster worn around the waist. The inside lining is very soft, and the corset is really cozy. Again, this is meant to hold a subcompact or micro pistol in a left- or right-side pocket at the stomach.
From looking at the holster, I thought it would be too bulky to wear with a T-shirt and that I might need a looser-fitting top or sweater. I was wrong again. Except for very fitted or light-colored tops, it worked with most any shirt. You can position it as high or low on the waist as you would like for ease of retrieving the gun. Corset holsters come in several great colors and are available in lace or plain lycra. Prices start at $101.
Off-Body Carry Options for Women
I used to cringe when I would see concealed carry purses in gun stores. They looked like fanny packs gone bad. They were made from horrible materials, and the only color option was brown. To be honest, my first choice is on-body carry. I do not usually carry a gun in my purse, but once in a while, I need to. At least now I am not embarrassed to show off my concealed carry purse or computer bag. In fact, I like them so much I use them as everyday bags even without firearms in them.
Concealed Carry Purses Can Be Fashionable
Susan Kushlin of Gun Girls, Inc. designs and offers a large line of women’s firearms accessories. I found the greatest camouflage clutch with gold studs on her site. I carry this purse all of the time. It has a hidden center gun pocket that closes with zippers and is accessible while carrying the handbag on your left or right side. The pocket runs the height and length of the bag and has Velcro on both walls of the pocket, holding the velcro-covered holster in place. It can be carried as a clutch but also has a removable shoulder strap. This is a small purse — about 12 by 8 inches — so the size of the pistol you carry will determine how much extra girl stuff you can keep in there. It is not real leather, but it looks great and that keeps the price affordable. You can buy the purse for $55.95.
For the ultimate high-fashion concealed carry statement, you have to check out a new line of purses from Beau + Arrow, a line designed by Betty and Iris Yen. These two ladies have deep roots in the New York and Los Angeles fashion worlds and have designed a high-end line of concealed carry purses.
I was able to test a beautiful leather bag called “Annie.” Made of matte white Kobe leather and also available in black, brown and maroon, this bag has impeccable details. You get what you pay for: The quality is amazing, and the purses are gorgeous. The Annie has an exterior gun pocket accessible by zippers on either side and comes with a holster that is attached with Velcro inside the pocket.
The Annie purse is oversized — 12.5 inches high, 18 inches wide and 6 inches deep — and can be used as an overnight bag. It has four gold feet that keep the bottom of the bag in perfect condition … did I mention this thing is gorgeous? This should be your next splurge, as the Annie goes for $595.
No Ordinary Range Bag
Last year at SHOT Show, a friend gave me a bag that had her company logo on it. I thought it was a perfect-sized computer bag and have been using it as such ever since. Turns out it is actually a range bag made by OffHand Gear, which is owned and operated by Sandi Dee outside of Phoenix. The bag is clever, practical and super cute.
Called the NORB (No Ordinary Range Bag), it is available in several pattern options. There is an exterior ambidextrous zipper to reach the gun without having to open the flap, and I love the stretchy, rifle-sling-inspired shoulder strap. (The NORB can also be unfolded and used as a range pad.) The bag stays slim while having room for a large wallet, touch-up makeup, hair ties, a phone and, of course, everything you need for the range — pistols, mags, ammo, eyes, ears and even your cleaning kit (or, as in my case, a small laptop fits too). The NORB is priced at $129.
Looper Brand: LooperBrand.com
Femme Fatale: FemmeFataleHolsters.com
UnderTech UnderCover: UnderTechUnderCover.com
Dene Adams: DeneAdams.com
Gun Girls, Inc.: Gun-Girls.com
OffHand Gear: OffHandGear.com
Beau + Arrow: ShopBeauArrow.com
Fashionable & Tactical: The Woman’s Concealed Carry Struggle
Written by Beth Alcazar
During a recent chapter meeting of The Well Armed Woman, I was talking with a member about an ankle holster that could work for her in the hot, humid summer months in Alabama, a time when she and many women prefer to wear lightweight, form-complementing tops (and a time when the more traditional holsters don’t always work). But halfway into our discussion, another trainer, a very respected Army vet, interrupted our conversation.
He sighed and grumbled about ankle holsters, making it very obvious that he didn’t approve of — or agree with — my recommendations. Then he walked over to his truck and retrieved a small pistol — a Taurus 738 TCP — and told us that all we women really needed in order to effectively carry concealed was a small gun.
The Struggle Is Real
I smiled, while also kind of cringing inside, knowing that a lot of men just don’t really understand the struggles women have blending tactical holsters with fashionable wardrobes. After all, our bodies, styles, needs and clothing choices are often worlds apart. But I politely watched and listened as he demonstrated and touted the strengths of the compact gun and then easily slipped the Taurus into the pocket of his pants. He smiled and nodded at the two of us, pleased that he’d proven what he believed to be the better way for my friend (and for women, in general) to carry a firearm, even when the temperatures increase and the clothing options decrease. But I had to step in and let him know why this particular example wouldn’t work for us. I pointed out that his pockets — and his attire — worked perfectly for effectively holding and hiding a small gun. But the pockets on my jeans were barely 3 inches deep. My friend then looked at her pockets, only to find that hers too were very shallow — too shallow to encase or cover even the smallest pocket pistol.
I could tell that my fellow trainer was surprised at this revelation (and this realization). He raised his eyebrows and lowered his gaze in the direction of my jeans, shaking his head and mumbling his disapproval and disappointment. He admitted that he’d never run into that kind of problem before. I shrugged my shoulders and smiled and reiterated that women — and women’s clothing — are just different. With a laugh and a nod of agreement, he offered his final suggestion: Just head down to Bass Pro Shops and pick up some tactical duty pants.
Concealed and Feminine
A lot of people — guys especially — like to inform women that concealed carry is easy if you just “dress to the gun.” But not all women wear jeans and T-shirts all day every day, nor do we really care for bulky work pants and polo shirts. And even though many manufacturers are providing women’s cuts and styles of their tactical pants and shirts, it’s not entirely practical or possible to wear these items every day. For example, while I love the 5.11 Stryke Pants and Prois’ shooting shirts, I typically save these clothing items for training or competition. There’s certainly a growing selection of great women’s gear and garments for those kinds of scenarios, but it’s the everyday life events that have a lot of ladies scratching their heads.
Women are known for multitasking, and we are often juggling a lot of different events and activities. We can quickly and easily go from tennis skirts and yoga pants to cocktail dresses and business suits. And many females place a significant amount of importance on fashion. This doesn’t mean that ladies are so overly concerned with how we look and what we wear that we overlook the importance of safety and the need for concealed carry. Protecting our families and ourselves should always trump modeling the hottest runway trends. But women want to feel feminine. We want to continue being ourselves while at work and at play. And many women refuse to sacrifice femininity to have the security of carrying a gun.
Women Like to Have Options
Of course, beyond just dealing with what clothes we prefer to wear, women also wonder which holster to use. Many of the ladies I know have a box full of holsters. Some of these holsters are items that just don’t feel right or work well. Others are simply options to consider for different kinds of outfits and weather.
From concealed carry handbags and bra holsters to corsets and bellybands, a lot of companies are still learning the functionality challenges that women face with carrying, issues that men do not necessarily experience. Furthermore, many holster makers have realized that just making something pink or sparkly doesn’t necessarily mean it’s automatically appealing to women. Women do want more style to go with their functionality. But for many years now, we’ve been desperately seeking out the most effective ways to bring together the two very different worlds of firearms and fashion.
One woman who has taken this challenge to heart is Susan Kushlin, of Boca Raton, Florida, the owner and president of Gun Girls, Inc., a company that offers shirts, hats, purses and even a line for babies and a separate G.G., Inc. brand for men. One of the mottos on the Gun Girls, Inc. website states: “All gun girls can represent themselves in a fashionable and ladylike manner.” And this is what initially drew me to Kushlin and her company. She gets it. She doesn’t support the idea that a woman should have to dress to the gun or that she needs to sacrifice her style to be able to carry her firearm every day. In fact, Susan believes in women being themselves so strongly, she created her own business.
“I’ve been shooting for a little over five years now,” Kushlin said. “And I think that carrying a firearm is all about family; it’s a way of life. This means that your guns and your love of shooting should be able to fit right in with who you are and what you do. In fact, I firmly believe in fitting it all in — errands, lunch, pedicure, shooting range, shopping — the best of all worlds!”
She Found a Niche and Filled It
Kushlin spent years attending gun shows and expos, scouring the floors for something feminine and attractive to purchase for herself. But she always left empty-handed. She felt that the products were mostly made by men, for men, and that the women’s items were just afterthoughts or guy’s shirts with a woman’s logo slapped on them. For these reasons, Kushlin decided to take matters into her own hands, and she carefully thought out and put together a fashion line that offers an array of apparel and accessories designed exclusively for females.
“A lot of women feel doomed to live their lives in sweatshirts and unflattering clothing,” Kushlin said. “They get involved with shooting and with concealed carry, and then they start to feel uncomfortable or unattractive. But guns and fashion don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”
It’s not unusual to spot Kushlin at the shooting range, sporting her fun and feminine looks, complete with high heels. She’s very supportive of women being able to train in the same items that they’d wear to grab a cup of coffee or to visit their friends. And some of her favorite Gun Girls, Inc. items include fashionable concealed carry handbags, logoed travel totes, bling belt buckles, rhinestone-studded shirts and onesies with clever, pro-gun sayings.
“There’s a little something for everyone in the whole family,” Kushlin said, “because a family involved with firearms supports one another and makes the decision to be in this together.”’
Fashion and Function
As more and more women continue to participate in the shooting industry and in concealed carry, there will likely be many more products, resources, garments and gear made specifically with women’s wants and needs in mind. And this is a good thing! We want to encourage more females to get involved. We certainly don’t want to scare anyone away from carrying concealed by forcing her into unflattering clothes or uncomfortable holsters and telling her that this is all there is.
But, ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that choosing to exercise your Second Amendment rights is a serious life commitment. Safety should never be jeopardized or compromised. And fashion should never be a barrier for a female to be responsibly armed … or an excuse for her not to be.
After all, it really is OK to love shooting guns and looking good.
*Can’t wait to find out more about dressing for concealed carry? Click below to get the FREE full-color, printable PDF! The Ultimate Guide to Dressing for Concealed Carry ⇐ Claim Your Guide