Transitioning from off-body carry, or not carrying at all, to inside-waistband carry is a big change. Nearly everyone who begins IWB carry experiences a degree of anxiety at first when making that change. That anxiety can be about being safe with the muzzle carried in such a sensitive direction; a topic covered elsewhere in this blog. Other typical worries include the feeling that the gun is abundantly visible to everyone in the vicinity. Sometimes, this worry is unfounded. Nevertheless, so-called “printing,” or the visible telltale outline of a grip under a shirt, is to be avoided. After all, wearing a concealed handgun means just that—it’s not visible!
With the goal of true concealment in mind, choices of clothing matter. Here are some things to consider when shopping for clothes that aid concealment.
The stiffer or more coarse, the better. At the extreme ends of the spectrum, consider the difference between canvas and silk. The stiffness of canvas and other stout cotton weaves, like denim, doesn’t cling to a gun. Thin, silky, clingy textures hug both your profile and that of the gun.
Dark colors conceal better, generally speaking. This is especially true if your day involves sweating or precipitation. Don’t let your concealment gun have its own wet t-shirt contest!
Here again, more is better. Bold patterns—plaids, florals, stripes, and so on—are perhaps the best strategy for breaking up the visible lines of a gun. You can get away with a tighter-fitting patterned top than a plain one. And what is truly more tactical than not looking “tactical” in a plain shirt.
Speaking of tight-fitting garments, a snug waistband secured by a good belt like the Bravo Concealment Cinturon is part of smart IWB carry. As for the shirt, having room to spare is necessary. Anyone wearing a so-called tuckable holster will need to avoid the V-shaped profile of snug dress and tee shirts. Though it’s fun to show off the results of your workout regimen, a loose-fitting shirt waist area is needed if your job or preference demand a tucked-in shirt. Women have many options here, with numerous business and leisure tops featuring a flared or loose waist area. However, don’t have so much fabric there as to impede clearing it to draw the gun.
A little creativity can enhance both your style and concealment. In men’s fashion, an eye-catching tie, a boldly emblazoned tee shirt will attract the eyes of the average person. Women’s fashion has unlimited choices like scarves, brooches, statement jewelry, and so on to accomplish the same purpose. For anyone who has to wear ID at work a colorful lanyard or decorated nametag holder can go far. “Fashion distraction” is a highly effective technique for concealment, and one you can make your own.
In other articles here, I’ve written about the power of radiating confidence in repelling would-be predators. This also goes for effective concealment. Carrying yourself with confidence and readiness to make eye contact makes you less of a target for being visually evaluated by the average onlooker.
Anyone reading this will surely balk at one ore more of these suggestions because it simply doesn’t fit their style. That’s ok, thankfully there is no concealment uniform! Decide what you can’t do without in your wardrobe, and consider changing something else if you must. Once your muzzle and finger safety habits are in place, moving the gun from wherever it Is to inside the waistband, especially in front of your body or on your midline, is a quick way to empower yourself with both rapid access to the gun and the knowledge that it’s completely under your control as compared to carrying it in many other typical locations.
Eve Flanigan is a defensive shooting and concealed carry instructor living in the American Southwest. Today she works full time as an instructor and writer in the gun industry. Flanigan loves helping new and old shooters alike to develop the skills needed to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.