Now that it’s the onset of summer, the need for deep concealment is more important than ever. In colder months, it’s easy to conceal a gun by carrying in a traditional inside-the-waist band holster and covering it with a nice roomy hoody or a flannel shirt. But once warmer weather hits, stripping off those extra layers means you’re no longer carrying concealed.
Fortunately, manufacturers have begun realizing this predicament. I attended the 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas last January, and not only did I see a lot of new clothing designed specifically for women on display, several manufacturers had also come out with garments that had holsters built into them—including clothing that’s designed to be worn next to the skin, beneath other garments. Because I carry on a regular basis, I was intrigued!
A few weeks after the show, I began reaching out to manufacturers to obtain samples for testing. What follows is a review of three very different options of what I like to call “concealed carry shapewear,” because not only do these articles of clothing have built-in holsters, they also will help flatter any figure.
I wore all three garments at different times, going about my daily routines. Together we ran errands, we shopped for groceries, and spent a good amount of time in the truck. Two I tested while horseback riding.
I tried carrying three different subcompact 9mm pistols: an Honor Defense Honor Guard (my go-to carry gun), a Smith & Wesson Shield, and a Springfield XDS.
Note that for your sake, I chose to illustrate these options using manufacturers’ photographs. My feeling is that it’s more appealing to see those instead of seeing my lumpy body in these garments. Trust me on this!
Colors: Nude, Black
Built for deep concealment, the Dene Adams Body Shaping Thigh Holster Shorts are a terrific option when you’re wearing a dress or skirt. They’re meant for smaller pistols, so you’re not going to put your full-size 1911 in there, but any micro pistol will fit well. A built-in trigger guard keeps you safe from an accidental discharge. A Velcro retention strap makes sure your gun stays in the holster, no matter what.
The holster sits on the inside of your thigh. Before testing the shorts, I’d assumed that the grip of my gun would rub my opposite thigh with every step, but that wasn’t the case. My Honor Guard fit, but tightly—these shorts are designed for a smaller sized pistol to be ultimately more comfortable. My tiny Derringer fit completely in the holster pocket.
My gun stayed secure as I walked around, and the grip didn’t rub on my opposite thigh as I’d first thought. I probably could have done a cartwheel and my gun would have stayed put, thanks to the design and retention strap of these shorts. (Since I don’t generally wear dresses or skirts around my horse, the shorts had to stay home on barn days.)
Slightly higher-waisted, these shorts offer great tummy/muffin top control. The material was stretchy and super soft. The dresses and skirts I wore with this with never got hung up or clingy.
These were a pleasure to wear, even on a warm day—perfect for wearing under that summer sundress while you’re out and about. Mine will get a lot of use this summer.
Colors: Black, White
Designed for deep concealment, the Holster Shirt by 5.11 Tactical is a form fitting undershirt, designed to be worn under a uniform or work shirt. With two deep pockets, your smaller-sized pistol is held close to the body and out of sight.
The bilateral holster pockets are secured high on the chest, with the openings to insert your pistol between the breasts. This shirt utilizes cross-draw access to your gun. Sizing was true to size; my medium fit well. Unholstering and accessing your gun will take some practice because of the deep pockets, which the gun to slip down to your side, under your arm. Because the holster pocket has thick padding, your gun won’t print and you will not be able to accidentally manipulate the trigger while wearing the garment. It also has padding on the body-side of the holster, ensuring comfort while wearing.
The Holster Shirt got to go for a quick ride on my horse. Even with a bouncy trot, my gun stayed secure.
I personally found the neckline to be a little high on this shirt. It’s a nice feature in colder weather, but in summer temperatures I found it to be a little too warm. The material is comfortable, stretchy, and breathable. It’s long enough to tuck in securely, and offers light compression to help flatter your midsection.
The neckline will show underneath whichever shirt you pair over it, but looks like you’re wearing a regular layer.
Nickel & Lace LUXE Lace Compression Camisole
Colors: Black, White, Nude
This comfortable, lace-trimmed camisole is designed to offer soft compression. It’s basically shapewear with two built-in cross-draw holsters. The material is soft and light, and it’s braless, so you can wear it with your regular bra or sports bra.
The camisole is comfortable to wear. It may run a bit on the larger size; by the size chart measurements I thought a medium would be the best size for me but it turned out that I would have been fine going with a small. I continued wearing the medium for the review, although the folks at Nickel & Lace offered to send me the smaller size. Because it was a tad big for me, I didn’t get the benefit of much compression. This camisole made a great layering piece that securely held all three of the subcompact pistols I used for testing purposes.
I really like this camisole. The fabric is light and soft, which make it perfect for wear even in the heat of the summer. The lace trim across the bottom offered a little bit of grip to keep the camisole from riding up, which was never an issue. The built-in holsters do a nice job of concealing. I tried to manipulate the trigger of my (unloaded) pistol through the fabric, but there’s a nice, thick barrier to prevent accidental discharge. Held close to the body because of the compression fabric, my pistol was invisible under clothing. It was comfortable to carry with my pistol in one holster and a spare magazine in the other. And my gun stayed secure while I was on horseback.
Remember that whenever you’re wearing any type of clothing that conceals, you’ll have to practice holstering and unholstering your pistol. Should you need to draw your pistol, practicing over and over will ensure a safe, efficient draw. Reholstering should be done in a slow, deliberate, and careful manner.