There is a phrase some of us know, “dress for success!” This has been instilled in most of us as we worked our way through our post-teen, early adult life. This approach and phrase applies to defensive uses as well. From protection specialists through “operators” in many different areas how they dress is a reflection of the job they are doing at the moment.
How should you dress when carrying a defensive tool? Look at your life and adjust your attire accordingly, the following is a list of areas that are important to understand before choosing daily attire if you are someone who has chosen to rely on yourself for your own protection, rather than relying on secondary responders for cleanup assistance.
- Sizes and Colors are everything! This is quite literally a scientific reality. Wearing clothing too tight and in bright colors draws the eye regardless sex of person wearing them. Muted colors and fitted but not tight clothing is far more appropriate for defensive purposes as it allows you to truly conceal yourself and by default your choice of defensive tool better. I choose to wear pants that are one size larger in the waist. Female or male one size larger allows a comfortable fit, relative ease of movement and more easier fit with concealed defensive tools.
- Know your local social structures, culture, and approaches, from barrios through upscale neighborhoods, how we dress is a reflection of where we choose to live. Wearing 511 cargo pants while everyone else is wearing dress casual is like lighting a signal fire. As much as wearing dress casual in a farm community would do the same! By all means express your individuality, however, understand if you stand out and choose to conceal defensive tools you are literally at odds with what you are trying to do!
When you are dressing for concealed carry, the options are endless. There are dozens of various specialty brands that have been designing clothing for hunters, outdoors types, soldiers, “first” responders and individuals involved in protection as a line of work.
While it is nice to have and use that coveted gun store favorite clothing type, the LE/MIL style multi-pocket 511 style tactical gear the reality is, this draws attention. Certainly have a few sets that fit, just remember, unless it is local fashion it stands out. I cannot stress enough that your dress should represent a certain non-descript “ness”. I enjoy shopping at local second-hand stores and Ross or Marshals where I can get current styles while easily remaining in the smart spending range for clothing.
Avoid skinny jeans, extremely tight dress and bright colors, certainly, some of the new wave of gun enthusiasts can flaunt their diminished manhood with skinny jeans and still conceal carry, sadly, though I would not recommend this for anyone. Again, the eye is drawn too tight clothing and bright colors. I can guarantee that those individuals who wear skinny jeans and or bright clothing and carry also enjoy wearing their mall ninja slogan shirts and probably flash their firearms every few minutes or make you aware of their amazing power and abilities if somehow you are engaged to speak with them.
For legitimate purposes of defense, you can also dress using concealable lightweight body armor capable of defeating most handgun calibers while still allowing for concealment of everything from pepper-spray through shotguns. Here are a few of those brands, and some explanation as to why I prefer, have used or currently use them.
It is important to understand in many places using bulletproof clothing is illegal unless you are a politician or ultra-rich, New York City, California and a few other locations are among those. You see, per their legislation, “bullet resistant or proof clothing aids in the commission of crimes…” which of course should have you wondering as to why only politicians and ultra-rich people get the protection!
- Bullet Blocker is an American company that designs and builds everything from standard tactical armor through fashionable outerwear for everyone and every age. They even offer some customization for the right price. I have tested one of their IIA simple vests and it stopped everything well within FBI protocols.
- Miguel Caballero is a name well known worldwide, and especially in the Southwest through South America. Originating in the early 1990s in Columbia to meet a rising need for stylish bullet resistant or proof clothing Miguel Caballero designs NIJ rated, BASC rated, ISO 14001, ISO 9001 clothing and materials for many end users. He is best known for allowing others to shoot him and or shooting each employee while wearing the clothing they manufacture. This is a testament to the amazing product line his company produces. I can verify that it is very solidly made and in fact also extremely stylish in most cases.
- Last we look at AR500 Armor made right here in Arizona, while this manufacture is tailored to meet the more tactical approach to body armor they have a stellar reputation and absolutely meet all NIJ standards and in most cases exceed those same standards. Their product line relies quite heavily on solid inserts though they do also manufacture fiber based armor.
There are several dozen manufacturers that have begun in the past decade alone in the United States, some are solid and others have very little actual information with no real testing being available to review. When it comes to bullet resistant or bulletproof wear it is essential to go with companies that offer quality and if possible can support their claims with real world incidents.
The listed companies all have proven designs with either personally tested or otherwise validated through real combat/ defensive applications. I am definitely not saying others are not capable of or have solid material available though. Do your research!
Footwear is an integral part of solid defensive approaches with life and especially with concealed carry. Being able to move easily and comfortably is absolutely essential. I prefer casual clothing in muted tones that fits a bit looser and at least one size larger than needed for pants. With my footwear, I prefer lightweight running style shoes which can be found in many designs these days and can easily fit into many categories for social acceptance as well. This last part being essential to concealing one’s approach to defense. Choose your footwear by asking these questions.
- Can you move freely in them?
- Do they fit your perceived image at the time, be it work or social in nature?
- Are they comfortable and long-lasting, you may find you need to run and can you do this in what you have chosen?
Personal grooming is also important, certainly as humans we enjoy personal attention. However, as concealed carriers attracting attention is really the last thing you want! I and many others I know who are extremely good at what we do with regards to the use of defensive tools and approaches have tattoos.
I know others with piercings and yet more with both. Understand that these will serve to attract attention regardless of location. Because tattoos are rather normal these days unless you get a full body tiger skin tattoo it is unlikely to generate much buzz. This being said, it is still important to maintain a low key approach to personal grooming.
I like a high and tight hair style, thankfully living on and around military bases allows for this without much interest shown. Of course, in other areas, it may be better for me to select a longer style or more styled hair do.
Hats and other coverings, this is one side that is not talked about as much and yet really does need its own section. I know a few young people including myself at one point who have grown up wearing hats, and as we got older transitioned into the “tactical” look. While I wear a baseball cap most days I do it simply for sun reduction on my skin.
My choices are low key, and a favorite hat is a WorkSharp hat I received a while back. If you must wear a hat that has velcro attachment points for flags, ID tags and similar remember something. This approach only tags you as a mall ninja or try hard to most people, unless you are in that community and then of course you know best and I am the one who needs to adjust my approach.
Shirts with slogans on them are another area that should be addressed. I think everyone should be who they want to be and do what they will as long as those actions do not physically harm another. This being said, if you really want to maintain a concealed lifestyle, consider ditching the “I Dial 1911” or “Glock Fan” and similar type shirts.
Folks, these shirts again simply advertise what you are doing even to the uninitiated your apparel can do more to destroy your conceal-ability than any action you may take does. I would also avoid inflammatory language or even wearing campaign shirts, all the things I have done in the past. Remember as a concealed carrier you are trying to avoid undue attention.
This sums up my suggestions on what to wear while concealed carrying. If you have things to add, please say so in the comments below and be sure to share this article!
Free the mind and the body will follow