When it comes to concealed carry during the summer months we can all agree on one thing…it’s a little bit harder. The weather, along with the clothing options, can present a bit of a challenge. We tend to opt for less clothes, lightweight fabrics, and light colored clothing. It requires a little more outfit planning than the cooler months and, additionally, the summer heat & humidity add in another factor…so much sweat. The sweat struggle is real on those triple digit days. While sweat can’t be avoided (if you’ve figured that out, let me in on your secret) and neither can the heat, there are ways to make dressing for concealed carry a lot more easier during the summer months. Just keep in mind that the peace of mind that comes with carrying a self-defense tool also means that some concessions need to be made.
Fabric Weight & Type
One of the first things to consider when it comes to summer carry is the weight and type of fabric of your summer clothing choices. Summer clothing fabrics become thinner and more breathable. All great things to keep us cool but if you plan to carry on body then you will also need to consider if the fabric can support the weight of your firearm and holster. This specifically relates to bottoms…shorts, pants, and skirts. Often times, these summer items don’t have belt loops; instead the waistband is elastic. Even with the use of a Fabriclip or Ulticip (which doesn’t require a belt) there is no way your bottom will adequately be able to support the weight. They will sag, droop, and potentially fall down.
When it comes to fabric type look for breathable fabrics that will keep you cool and comfortable such as:
Cotton: The natural fiber of cotton allows air to circulate & move freely through the fabric, which makes heat more bearable.
Chambray: This is a great option if you don’t totally want to ditch your denim. Since chambray is also cotton, it will keep you cool during the summer. It typically comes in a higher thread count, which means it’s a finer weave & more breathable fabric.
Rayon: Rayon is not a natural fiber so it works best in dry heat. It won’t wick away moisture as well as cotton but is a thinner thread than cotton, so it’s great for delicate, lightweight clothing.
Linen: Linen is the ultimate coolest of fabrics. The natural fiber and light weave allow for maximum breathability.
Blends: Blends which are typically made up of synthetic fabrics are known for detracting moisture, so they’re great in humid climates.
One last thing to consider in the summer is switching up your clothing color palette. As much as I would love to wear black all day long, it’s not that practical in the summer. Dark colors absorb sunlight so opt for light-colored garments.
Play with Prints & Patterns
One of the great things about warmer weather is that when it comes to fashion there is an influx of prints and patterns that make their way on to cute tops, shorts, and dresses. While you may have shied away from prints in favor of solid colors in the past, now is the time to start giving them a look. Patterns and prints do a great job of distracting the eye from any potential printing from your firearm.
Details & Accessories are a Girls Best Friend
Not all our tops from our pre-carry life need to be ditched. I personally love a good simple t-shirt but some of you may feel too “exposed” by just this thin layer of fabric between your self-defense tool and the rest of the world. However, there may not be a need to say goodbye to your favorite tee. Adding a simple accessory like a scarf or statement necklace is a great option as these types of accessories draw the eye up towards your face rather than to you mid-section. You might scoff at the idea of adding a scarf during the summer but I’m not talking winter scarf, this is where being picky about fabric comes in. Select silk or linen scarfs that can be styled multiple ways but also won’t have you feel overheated. Additionally, these affordable but stylish accessories can be found in countless prints and colors and is a great way to add a bit of style to your look that isn’t bulky.
Another great feature to keep an eye out for when shopping is to check the hemline of your tops. While I typically stayed away from peplum style or ruffled hem shirts in my pre-carry life they are now one of my favorite options during summer. They allow for ease of access but also make for carrying easy and isn’t that what we want? They are such a perfect option for concealing and the best part is that tops with these types of details helps you to maintain that femininity in your style which is huge when it comes to carrying because no one would expect you to be carrying.
Look for tops with twist front knots, ruching across the torso, peplum hems, and tiered ruffles. Even if there might be a little bit of printing that you can see in a top like this, it's easily waved off because of details created by the shirt style.
The last thing we want during the heat of the summer months is to add any layers. I mean come summer all we want to do is start shedding layers. However, there are many lightweight layers you can add to help make this lifestyle as effortless as possible. Plus, while it might be 100 degrees outside chances are inside the A/C is cranking and it’s cold. If you’re anything like me (always cold) I always have a layer with me even in the dead of summer. It’s similar to the thought process of carrying your firearm...better to not need it and have it than need it and not have it.
As with any additional layer in the summertime, pay close attention to the fabric. You’ll want something lightweight such as a silk kimono style wrap, light cardigan, or even a button down linen shirt is a great layering option.
There are so many cute summer style dresses that help keep us feeling cool and looking stylish. However, carrying in a dress can pose it’s own set of challenges. Personally, I don’t wear many dresses but there are a few options when it comes to carrying and wearing a dress that you can opt for. A thigh holster, concealment shorts, ankle holsters, bra holsters. or a belly band. Alternatively, as with any outfit you can opt for off-body carry.
I tend to stick with my Can Can Concealment Hip Hugger. The surface area is a lot smaller than other corset style holsters. You might be thinking how in the world do you access that?! First, you always have to train and practice your draw. Second, if a situation arises where I would need to draw my firearm, I’m not going to be concerned by showing off my goodies to anyone. After all, I’m probably in a life or death situation.
Other holster options to consider depending on your style of dress or jumpsuit are thigh holster shorts from Dene Adams, Undertech Undercover, bra holsters from Dene Adams, ankle holster from BugBite Holsters, or even this Lethal Lace universal holster wrap. The Lethal Lace holster also works with a Sticky Holster allowing you to place it in many different areas on your body to suit your need. Depending on what you’re wearing, this added layer might be too much in the summer heat but they do allow for options.
If you’re looking for some additional style inspiration to help you conceal carry in style during the summer, check out my video Concealed Carry for Women Style Guide - Summer Edition.
Another way to help make carrying in the summer more easy is to think about changing up your carry position. While I personally don’t like to change my carry position, sometimes it’s needed depending on what you’re wearing and doing. It’s important to be open to making adjustments but also accounting for those changes by training and practicing.
While your preferred carry position might be appendix, like mine, carrying in the small of the back (kidney carry) might provide a little bit more versatility depending on your summer wardrobe. You could easily kidney carry with a fitted top and loose summer layer as a cover garment.
Another carry position to consider is off-body carry, while it’s not my personal preference it is a viable option especially if your alternative is to not have a self-defense tool at all. Just be sure you are using a handbag or purse that is made specifically for concealed carry. Concealed carry purses have specific internal compartments and built-in holsters for your firearm. You don’t want your firearm floating around aimlessly in your bag. And if you do opt for off-body carry, it’s important that you never lose sight of your bag or leave it unsecured.
I believe strongly in having options when it comes to your self-defense tool. Depending on where you are going, where you live, etc. you may not always be able to carry a firearm so having other options such as a TASER or mace means you don’t have to be left defenseless. My go-to self-defense tool when I can’t carry a firearm is the TASER Pulse. Many companies make holsters for the TASER Pulse, which means I can easily select that as my tool for the day should I not be allowed to carry my firearm.
While I know some may not have the luxury of having multiple firearms to choose from especially when they are just getting started, summertime is a great time to think about downsizing your concealed carry gun. What I learned from navigating this lifestyle is that during the fall and winter months, being able to conceal carry my Heckler & Kochk VP9SK is a lot easier. However, when I attempted to transition that firearm into my summer wardrobe it was too big. My summer shorts couldn’t withstand the weight of the gun with my normal belt. It could with my legitimate carry belt but that was not cute at all. Additionally, the lightweight summer tops were not working with the grip of the gun. That’s where my Glock 43 comes into play. Overall, the frame is smaller and it’s lighter which makes being able to conceal it less of a hassle and it works perfectly with summer outfits.
For other less-lethal self-defense tools options check out this post.
Carry Details: Alexo Athletica Signature Pant Carrywear Leggings (use code AlexoSMT10 for 10% off at www.alexoathletica.com) & Kimber Pepper Blaster | StealthGearUSA Ventcore Appendix Holster (use code SMT10 for 10% off at www.stealthgearusa.com) & Glock 43 / StealthGearUSA Ventcore Appendix Holster & HKVP9SK | Sticky Holster & TASER Pulse (use code SMT15 for 15% off at www.buy.taser.com)
When it comes to holsters it’s really personal preference. A holster that one person may rave about another person may not share the same feelings. What we all do in this lifestyle is to help make recommendations based on what we like and don’t like. So for me, the below holsters help to simplify this lifestyle and are the ones that are on heavy rotation come summer.
Having the right holster helps to make dressing easier. Having options when it comes to holsters will ensure that you can still carry and look cute even in the summer. Don't be restricted to only using one style holster and experiment with different holster types to find what works for you and your wardrobe.
Can Can Concealment Hip Hugger: The great thing about this holster is that you don’t need a belt. Elastic waists and lightweight material bottoms would never be able to withstand the weight of a gun without any sagging. So for all those cute tie waist shorts, skirts, or pants with no belt loops, this provides a safe and secure option that works with many different types of clothing and self-defense tools. It's my go-to for carrying as it works so well with shorts when belts aren't an option or simply don't go with the outfit. Not to mention the hip hugger is comfortable and the feeling of the added bulk of a traditional belt/holster combo is non-existent. I think it makes for a great option for summer since the pistol lays more snug against the body. However, I understand it’s an extra layer around the waist but that’s when choosing the correct fabric for your outfit comes into play so you can keep cooler elsewhere. The good thing is you can throw this into the wash. Also, I love the option of the nude color of this holster as it won’t show through under the light colored bottoms.
StealthGearUSA Ventcore Holster: This is a hybrid holster which means the front part is hard shell (similar to kydex) and the back is a padded vented material. I love this one during the summer because the vented back keeps it breathable and helps to soak up some of that sweat. I know that sounds gross but that’s the truth about summer carry. The great thing is you can also wash this one with lukewarm water and soap.
Blacksmith Tactical with Fabriclip/Ultilcip: Another favorite holster brand of mine is Blacksmith Tactical and they offer two beltless clip options that are great for those beltless outfit days. The alternative clips secure the holster directly to your clothing and because you don’t need a belt, it also minimizes additional bulk. When using a holster that does not require a belt be sure to take into consideration the fit and fabric of the bottoms you are pairing it with. The point of using a good quality belt with your holster is to make sure that your firearm and holster stay up and don’t sag your pants down. The added weight around your waist needs to be supported. So when choosing a holster with a Fabriclip or UltliClip option, I find it’s best to pair them with pants that are pretty fitted around the waist and that are heavier in fabric such as denim. That extra snugness around your waist from your fitted pants will help keep the firearm and holster from sagging and pulling your waistband down.
Carry Details: Blacksmith Tactical AIWB with Fabriclip options (use code StyleMe10 for 10% off at www.blacksmithtactical.com) | Can Can Concealment Classic Hip Hugger | StealthGearUSA Ventcore Appendix Holster (use code SMT10 for 10% off at www.stealthgearusa.com)
You’ll always hear me talk about having options (not just when it comes to holsters) and I know that I sound like a broken record. But having a few go-to holsters to choose from that work with your wardrobe will make this concealed carry life that much easier.
For three other holster types every women should own check out this post.
While carrying in the summer can pose it’s own set of challenges it’s important to play around with your carry positions and holsters that you are comfortable with but that also work for your lifestyle. You might find that you need to make adjustments but you shouldn't be opposed to them since they will give you more options with your wardrobe. However, along with these options there needs to be an increased commitment to training. You must practice and train when you start changing things up with your every day carry routine. Everything changes with your EDC when the change of season happens. Just the change of fabric in your clothing choices will change how a garment will clear. During an attack is not the time to not know where your firearm is nor is it the time to learn how to draw it. You want as little obstacles as possible during a threat and getting the training reps is how to do that.
My piece of advice when you want to move into this lifestyle is to have patience and take the time to find what works for you, with your wardrobe, and your lifestyle. A carry method, holster choice, and firearm are personal choices that only you can make for yourself and what works for one person may not work for you. That doesn’t mean you should give up. That just means you haven’t found the right combination for you. This isn’t a one size fits all lifestyle.