“How on Earth do you conceal carry in those jeans?” is the most frequent question I receive with regard to ladies’ concealed carry. It also probably the most difficult question about women’s CCW to answer. Because I’m that kind of woman who has to make things difficult by wanting to conceal full size +2lb pistols, I’ve gone through a lot of extra trial and error to find a few solutions that work reasonably well for female CCW needs. Once I got the trickier full size guns down, it was easy to hide smaller guns. One of the key factors in effectively concealing a firearm for waistband styles of carry is in choosing the right pants.
One of the first things to evaluate when evaluating a pair of pants’s concealed carry potential is the span of the waistline. I’ve always had narrow hips, and I’ve never been able to get away with not wearing a belt with my bottoms. That means that there has always been an extra inch or two in the waist of my jeans, even if the fit of the leg was ideal. So, when I started carrying, I already had the room I needed around the waist to accommodate the extra girth of a holster and pistol. But you curvy gals (who actually have hips) may want to shop a size up to make sure the waistline of your pants is ample enough for yourself and your CCW.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the banes of ladies’ concealed carry is low rise pants. I love my low rise jeans, but they sure do make IWB carry challenging. Some holsters just pop right out the top of low rise bottoms, especially when the wearer bends at the waist (like while sitting or kneeling). Another potential CCW issue to consider with lower rise jeans is printing (that is, having the outline of the gun visible through the clothing covering it). This is especially an issue with full size pistols due to the longer barrel lengths. When carrying IWB with a full size pistol in low rise pants, there’s just not as much pants to cover up the slide. If I’m dead set on wearing low rise jeans and a full size pistol, I just accept that they’re going to print and then choose a cover garment to wear that’ll hang below my waistline and obscure the printing of my pants. However, there is a simpler solution: carry a shorter barreled pistol (less slide = less to hide).
I’m chiefly a “jeans and a tee shirt” kind of girl, so this isn’t an issue that I face often. However, if I have to wear dress pants in lieu of my beloved denim, printing becomes a much bigger concern. Thinner fabric hugs curves. This can be very flattering for a lady’s figure, but not so flattering for her pistol. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do to make thinner fabric bottoms print less (trying out different holsters helps this more than anything), but an easy out is to couple problematic bottoms with a more effectively concealing top. Loose, flowing shirts with low hemlines seem to do this well (one of my faves for this is a loose tank top). Jackets or sweaters work, too, so long as the hem is low enough.
The curves of the female form are lovely, but they add a challenging element to waistband concealed carry methods. Fortunately, shopping for pants with CCW in mind can make concealment easier. Remember to give yourself enough room along the waist, that lower rising waistlines means less to conceal, and thin bottoms print more. Taking a little extra time to plan ahead for these factors makes it easier to effectively concealed carry while still being feminine and fashionable.