Concealed is Concealed: How to Dress For Everyday Carry Success

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Courtesy Comfort Tac

There is more to carrying a concealed handgun than simply throwing a t-shirt over your rig. You have to change your style of dress and, to a lesser extent, your lifestyle to accommodate your everyday carry gun…and the rest of your load-out. Or do you?

Clothing challenges

Concealed means concealed. But does concealed mean donating your entire wardrobe to Goodwill and wearing only multi-pocket “tactical” cargo pants and loose-fitting untucked shirts? Your clothing choices should support the level of concealment required for your chosen handgun, and any other defensive tools you may carry (e.g. spare magazines, knife, flashlight, etc.). Or is it really the other way around?

Believe it or not, the biggest challenge some new concealed carriers face is the realization they can’t carry their Mk1Mod0 blaster they use at the range on the weekends. Many don’t want to — or can’t — change their clothing style, such as buying pants one or two sizes larger than normal to fit a larger gun in an inside-the-waistband holster to accommodate their favorite full-sized firearm.

Courtesy Bravo Concealment

That’s OK. I believe in living your life to the fullest while carrying concealed. Whether you’re working, hanging out with your family, or attending social events, you shouldn’t let your firearm interfere with enjoying the one life God has blessed you with. It’s best to work your concealment requirements around your lifestyle.

If you’re unwilling or unable to change your dress to conceal a particular firearm, so be it. As someone once said, clothes make the man. Your sense of style is important to your sense of self and social success. But don’t simply give up. Give yourself . . .

Multiple Carry Options (One Is None)

I consider it standard practice to have a primary, secondary, and backup method for carrying concealed, so I can carry comfortably no matter what I’m doing, whether it’s playing with the kids, hiking, commuting, working, shopping, fixing stuff around the house…whatever. This approach has allowed me to navigate my life armed while blending in or actually looking downright presentable, even in high society events.

IWB tuckable holster
With a smaller carry gun and a tuckable IWB holster, no one will know you’re carrying. (Dan Z. for TTAG)

There’s a wide variety of carry systems to choose from, including inside-the-waistband, outside-the-waistband, appendix and shoulder holsters. You can pocket carry, ankle carry or carry in a belly band or “fanny pack.” You can also carry off-body in a briefcase, purse, backpack, or vehicle. But remember: it’s not either/or. You can choose from any (or all) of the three.

Tactical concealed carry purse off body
Courtesy Tactica

Can one gun cater to all of these carry methods? Probably not. I recommend owning, carrying and practicing with at least two guns: a larger and a smaller firearm. And yes I know that all of this costs time and money. The good news is once you settle on a couple of good guns and three carry methods, you’re set. That said, you’ll still face . . .

Gun challenges

If your style requires you to change your loadout to carry something smaller and more compact, practice with that gun. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve trained people shooting full-size handguns who often shoot them well, who then tell me, “Oh this isn’t my carry gun.”

That’s a recipe for disaster.

I’m not just talking about marksmanship or gunfighting tactics. You need to train yourself to extract your gun from its hiding place in a consistent and efficient fashion, wearing the kind of clothes you’ll be wearing with that loadout.

Unload your gun, put all of the ammunition in a different room, check to make sure your gun is clear again…and then practice your draw. While stationary and while moving.

shoulder holster
Courtesy America’s Gun Store

If you decide to wade into these waters, your choices come with the responsibility of shooting to a minimum standard. You can do it as long as you commit to some basic training with reasonably good gear you’ve practiced with. Choose a loadout that fits your lifestyle and the season, but make sure you’re ready, willing, and able to protect that lifestyle.


Jeff Gonzales is a former US. Navy SEAL and preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned to the world at large. He is the president of Trident Concepts in Austin, Texas.

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  1. There seems to be an air of absolutism in this. Though may ideas are certainly valid, I wonder what all this about. I carry every day. Is my printing non existant? Nope. Does the average Joe have any clue I’m carrying? Nope. Unless you are violating the law by incidentally uncovering a concealed weapon, I’m not sure all this is really necessary. What is necessary is ready access and practice getting to your gun when you need it. Which may actually run counter to all of this recommended concealment. Just my 2 cents worth.

    • Some areas have a greater margin of error than others legally speaking. For states that had a hissy fit post Bruen carry can be a very all or nothing affair.

    • W­o­r­k­i­n­g o­n­l­i­n­e b­r­i­n­g­s i­n $­2­8­5 d­o­l­l­a­r­s a­n h­o­u­r f­o­r m­e. M­y b­e­s­t b­u­d­d­y s­h­o­w­s m­e h­o­w t­o d­o t­h­i­s a­n­d m­a­k­e­s $­2­9,0­0­0 a m­o­n­t­h d­o­i­n­g i­t, b­u­t I n­e­v­e­r r­e­a­l­i­z­e­d i­t w­a­s r­e­a­l, v­i­s­i­t t­h­e st60 f­o­l­l­o­w­i­n­g l­i­n­k t­o h­a­v­e.

      A l­o­o­k a­t i­t—————————————>>>

  2. Looking at the Aliengear shape-shift 4.0, not sure what’s needed to wear in different positions. Options for different placement with a single system would be nice.

    • Aliengear shape-shift… out of hundreds of holsters over time I’ve tried out, I’ve never encountered one so over hyped AND as uncomfortable as the Aliengear shape-shift.

    • I drank the aliengear koolaid and bought one. After six months I abandoned it as it was the most uncomfortable thing ever and also very difficult to put onto the belt or remove without removing my pants first.

      Next I bought a Vedder Lighttuck and the difference is night and day. The retention actually works without being too loose or too stiff at the same time in various body positions. The Vedder is adjustable with one simple screw without needing to disassemble the entire holster and swap out multiple shims with different shims like tbe Aliengear junk.

      Slipping on the Vedder rig is a snap -as is removing it all in one piece. It takes seconds.

  3. “…such as buying pants one or two sizes larger than normal to fit a larger gun in an inside-the-waistband holster to accommodate their favorite full-sized firearm.”

    Or…. get regular properly fitting waist size in regular fit style (that’s for wear on the natural waist and not the hips, yes, there is a difference and they are made differently and most don’t realize it. Your natural waist is above your hip bones.) with a ‘stretch’ waistband… for example >

    • Another hint, look at the top pic with the article…look at the zipper area … notice the fabric fly covering the zipper is not gaping out. That fabric should be flat against the zipper when you’re standing or sitting and wearing your gun IWB if the pants are the correct size for your conceal carry. If it gaps out you are wearing pants that are too small for your IWB conceal carry.

      If the fly (the part covering the zipper) on your pants is not laying flat when you zip them and stand or sit but instead bulges or gaps out exposing the zipper its self, ya probably need to consider a move to the next larger waist size pants.

      For example, this guys jeans are too small for his conceal carry (note zipper fly covering is gaping out) >×488.jpg

    • Time to grow up and start wearing adult pants pulled up to to your waist instead of the skinny jeans worn at the hips with your underwear sticking up above them.

      Heck, I gave up on uncomfortable blue jeans long ago and went to wearing cotton dress pants or cargo shorts everywhere. The very thought of having to wear uncomfortable and too-stiff denim ever again makes me almost break out in hives.

      Cotton slacks are way more comfy and have more give in them than even the most worn-in or worn-out denim blue jeans. I’m not riding a horse in the wilderness or scrabbling around in a coal mine like blue jeans are designed to worn for.

  4. This has validity in some ways, and I definitely agree with training with what you actually carry, however when it comes to “concealed” being all or nothing I live in place where no one cares and everyone is assumed armed because it takes very little to be so.
    No one here is getting arrested for printing or a flash display of clothing movement. In fact the last few curtesy notifications to LEOs were answered with “ok” and nothing else.
    Heck most sheeple got their heads buried so far in their phones or up their they’ve no idea anyone has anything around them. Only ones that pay attention are sheepdogs and predators. You just gotta know enough to figure who’s what.

  5. Let’s be honest about something: for most people it is virtually impossible to totally and completely conceal all but the tiniest of handguns.

    Sure, some women with flat stomachs plus ample breasts as well as body-builder men can hide a medium size handgun such that it is truly undetectable even to trained eyes. For everyone else it is impossible to hide a medium size handgun without at least some minimal printing. Thus, for the majority of people who carry a handgun for righteous self-defense, they will have to compromise on something. Either they carry a tiny gun which is undetectable. Or, they can carry a larger handgun, dress around it as best they can, and live with the fact that they will be printing to some extent.

    I believe that a better debate to review is whether or not it matters if you carry a concealed medium/large handgun which prints to a greater or lesser degree. Your answer to that debate will probably decide what you carry and how you carry it.

    • Holster and belt combo make a huge difference too. I carried an N frame model 28 IWB for a couple years in my younger dumber days, never got made. Also remember most people are condition white. They don’t pay attention to anything, none the less a slight print or bulge on someone else. Confidence is huge, constantly pulling on your clothes is the biggest tell for new carriers.

      • Will have to watch later but guessing uhmwpe instead kevlar for a suit to prioritize being thin over being flexible if they went with a back panel and overlapping front panels.

        • Depending on material, protection level, and projectile in question not much different than a typical vest. Got to play around with a hoodie and Tshirt version of the similar idea and in both cases were up to NIJ spec with somewhat modified coverage areas. Wouldn’t want to take a 45-70 in one but most 45acp, 40sw, 380, and 9 should be fine with nasty but not seriously injurious bruising.

        • “Informal” and often provides more real world useful information than most labs. Love that channel and hope he gets to test out a U-210 at some point for the minimalist intermediate rifle level option.

      • I am glad I watched the full video as it showed how much they had to learn and how many factors come up just in a level 2a – 2 project.

  6. It’s relative. Concealment is a matter of degree. Many people couldn’t see something right in front of their eyes. Most liberals will never be able to see the forest through the trees.

    Personally, I don’t consider OWB to be concealed. Although this is where you usually find the best looking leather holsters. My preference is IWB. But it’s really more about where you are and what your doing. The reason your carrying in the first place is part of this. There are times when a shoulder holster would be best.

  7. I recently switched to Urban Carry LockLeather both OWB and IWB – because a gurl needs choices, right? Both are hybrid with excellent positive retention and tight tuck. Throwing away all my kydex monsters.

    • The LockLeather IWB, the idea is good but its not for me. For my preferences, it sits too low in the waistband.

  8. Shove it in your pants any ole way you can
    Gotta keep it hid from the man doing bad
    Wearing that badge or sporting that tat
    Ya’h never gonna know when one might snap
    Keep’em hid.

  9. I live in FL…I carry a G19 concealed (because we have to, no open carry but we have constitutional carry *eye roll*). I massively print…I don’t care. If we cant open carry and printing is not illegal then why not be comfortable and carry concealed, OWB.

  10. There is an unsettling air of elitism and absolutism in this post. The 2nd amendment mentions nothing about concealed carry only. before modern concealed carry laws, it was considered dishonest to conceal a handgun, as gentlemen and decent folks wore them on a belt. I hear tripe often from folks who live in liberal areas who have been brainwashed (not that they will admit it) to thinking concealed is the ONLY way to carry. I’ve heard it a hundred times, open carry guns will cause a panic, open carry will get you killed etc etc etc from these folks. They are apparently completely unaware it’s a common sign in free states like mine to see open carry DAILY by multiple people with zero issues at all. open vs concealed or concealed with printing can be debated all day long as to pros and cons, but your opinion on the mater means absolutely nothing if someone chooses to do something different than you. We should all be for carry period! more people, more places, more gun supporters. The left is trying to erode the second amendment constantly, don’t do them a favor by admonishing forms of carry, you might as well vote for gun control, use your head, not your ego.

    • If things keep going our way we might return to the days where just about everyone is open carrying and anyone not carrying would be considered some sort of Twinkie weirdo.

      The open carry hating Fudds we see everywhere are really just anti-2A brainwashed fools who believe the only right we have is the right to hide our lights under a bushel basket. We see that type spouting off in every gun forum. Whenever open carry of any type is brought up they get trigger and gotta barf out their brainwashed programming about the evils of open carry….

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