Getting Dressed Up All Fancy? Keep Carrying With These Concealed Carry Tips For Formal Attire


Tuxedos and formal business attire are the hallmarks of looking classy in society.  In this article, we’ll talk about some tips that will help you dress for success, look your best, and carry on.

Tip 1: Limited Space To Conceal? Downsize Your Carry Handgun

James Bond is a fictional character but there’s a pretty decent reason why Sir Ian Flemming initially gave his protagonist a compact, lightweight and easily concealable semi-automatic pistol — it just fits better with formal attire… Granted, the original .25 ACP Beretta may not have been the best choice but luckily the protagonist got upgraded to that infamous Walther PPK.


In the middle of a celebratory or sombre event, your task as a concealed carrier isn’t to get into a protracted exchange of gunfire.  A firearm is an added piece which may expedite your movement to safety and little more.

Tip 2: Can You Tuck Around Your IWB?

Not all inside the waistband concealed carry holsters fit the same way on the body.  Some tuck in deep below the waistline, like a Lenwood Specter IWB, and others, like Stealthgear, keep the pistol firmly holstered half above and half below the waistline.

If your IWB allows you to tuck your shirt around it, great.  Crossbreed Holsters makes a Super Tuck class of IWBs that allow for that.  However, some formal shirts and attire don’t play well with working around holsters.

Possible alternatives to tucking over the holster include:

Tip 2a: Cummerbund

If you’re at a wedding or similar event, a cummerbund adds an additional layer around the midsection.  It can act as a concealing layer in a tuxedo so that you can store your handgun inside the waistband but above the underlying shirt.

Tip 2b: Vest

This is probably the classiest way to store a firearm above a tucked in formal shirt but yet still beneath a concealing layer.  Be advised, having an actual vest on may complicate the draw process — but at least the firearm is there and ready to use.


Tip 3: Wearing a Kilt? Consider Sporan Carry


For weddings, processions, and other events, some gentlemen prefer to wear a kilt.  While a kilt is usually tailored to the individual, it may not leave a whole lot of room to wear an inside the waistband holster.  The good news — a micro-compact pistol would fit extremely well in the accompanying sporan, or pouch that accompanies a kilt.  Something like an L.W. Seecamp or similar would fit fantastic and serve adequately in an emergency.

Tip 4:  Avoid ankle-carry.  Not only is it inconvenient and dangerous, but it will draw added attention to your exposed ankles.

I don’t know how many emails and messages we’ve gotten from people who idly say, “oh I lost my gun while ankle-carrying” like it’s no big deal.  Lost a gunAnkle carry.

A big urge in formal attire is to place the gun in an ankle holster.  It seems like a convenient place, right?  It’s not.  If you’re moving about, dancing with others, or doing any sort of activity other than occasionally sitting or standing, an ankle holster is a liability.

There’s other alternatives.

And finally…

Tip 5: Inside The Waistband?  Keep At 3 Or Push To 5 o’clock

Respectively, 3:30 – 4 o’clock is pretty much seated right on the love handle.  With a tailored suit coat or tuxedo blazer covering it, there’s a good chance you will print at least partially while in a seated position.  At 5 o’clock, the chair is usually obstructing anyone else’s view and 3 o’clock, you’re still safely covered beneath your suit coat.  So long as you intend to keep your suit coat fastened throughout the evening, you may even want to consider 2 o’clock so that it passes smoothly along the fabric.

Your body is going to dictate whichever is best and please, attend a restroom before adjusting your holster in public.  Good manners and steady, judicious aim may get you through this evening yet.

Categories: Beginners Guide, General
About James England | View all posts by James England

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry…

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 36 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his CZ-75D PCR in an Alien Gear MOD holster.

Posts – Below Author – Small Square 1 (150×150)Advertisement
Posts – Below Author – Small Square 2 (150×150)Advertisement
Posts – Below Author – Small Square 3 (150×150)Advertisement
Posts – Below Author – Small Square 4 (150×150)Advertisement
  • Mike Vee

    I carry IWB at 2 o’clock. Best position for me, personally. You would have to check different positions for your body type to figure what works best for you.

  • ReallyOldOne

    This is why I like my LCP. For almost any outfit, LCP in front right pocket in pocket sleeve and extra mag in left front or rear pocket, available to left hand for quick mag change. I know, 380 is not a “real” gun. but my attitude is best gun for self defense is the one on my person, and this one is ALWAYS on my person. It even goes in lounge wear around the house.

    • Dr Dave

      Sorry I don’t agree with the “.380 is not a real gun” nonsense. I agree with ROO. It might have been true 30 years ago but with things like Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty and the new Ruger Poly cased and Lehigh Defense etc it is as lethal as one needs and still allows most models to be well adequately concealed. Although now I am carrying a Glock I carried a Walther .380 for over 35 years as a federal LEO (with special permission) and loved it. As a surgeon I can tell you I see plenty of .380 shootings with either dead or wish they were wounds.
      I know there will always be those who say if it’s not .45ACP they aren’t interested but most guys haven’t actually been in a shoot out with any caliber to really know one way or another. The ability to control recoil and get off a double tap FAR exceeds the added energy of the larger calibers
      Dr D

  • Ken

    The SmartCarry works pretty good. Sometimes it’s hard to get adjusted just right.

  • Thomas

    “I don’t know how many emails and messages we’ve gotten from people who idly say, “oh I lost my gun while ankle-carrying” like it’s no big deal. Lost a gun. Ankle carry.”

    So… How many did you get? Best guess is ok.

    • James England

      Over a dozen within the past six months. Easily. Now, different vendors definitely have holster options which appear to be more sturdy but it’s not really something I’d personally ever consider.

  • Pod

    It might be something out of the movies, but what about a shoulder rig underneath your suit jacket? Now, obviously it could be an issue of comfort. The event might drone on and you could get warm and want to take your jacket off or something…

    Also, in states and a venue where such a thing is permitted, open carry is an option. However, you could risk upsetting the guests depending on the event. Also I’d venture you’d probably want a pretty classy custom 1911 or what-have-you for formal occasions.

    • Sandydog

      Shoulder rigs have a major safety drawback: You cover a HUGE swath of non-targets to get to the one you really want, even if you are very careful with the presentation–which you might not BE, in an incipient gunfight. Some instructors won’t allow them on the line any more because of that issue.
      I wore full-sized revolvers and auto-pistols in shoulder rigs of several types for years; I found them relatively comfortable, but you are correct about things getting warm wearing a jacket and not being able to shed it.

  • Steve Copeland

    A good quality leather shoulder holster with thick straps will keep you concealed and comfortable. Climate not withstanding, this may be the best option if a good gun belt does not work with your attire. Taking off the jacket is of course, not an option, so hot areas outdoors may be a problem.

  • Phil Wong
  • Sandydog

    The safest rule of thumb for CCW is to carry at least a SIMILAR gun (operating system, basic features, safety system–such as BIG Glock for one dress style, medium or little Glock for another) in the same general body location, every time you carry. I know that it’s fun and convenient to wear different guns from time to time, and maybe put your handgun in different locations–but, when SHTF, you do NOT want to be groping around on your waistband for a gun that’s really under your shoulder, or coping with a safety, or a different ‘feel’ and trigger pull, while under the EXTREME stress of a life-and-death shooting.
    Regarding a .380 being ‘unreal’ as a carry caliber, remember that it used to be the standard for people to carry a Colt .25 or .32ACP, or a .32 or .38 S&W (not ‘Special’, either) revolver, on the theory that most folks will do ANYTHING to avoid being shot anywhere, and that any gun is better than none at all. A modern self-defense .380 round or two or six will do considerable damage at ‘gunfight’ distances, never fear.
    As almost all armed self-defense confrontations end without a shot being fired, it’s clear that the presence of a firearm of some sort is the key, and caliber isn’t all that critical.
    If given the choice, I’d rather go into a gunfight with a rifle–sadly, though, they’re just too darn hard to conceal!
    H’mmm. . . maybe an SBR HK53, with a shoulder sling, under a nice sport jacket. . .