The Cornered Cat
Dressing room

When shopping for a new pair of pants while armed, Jennifer wanted to know how other people handle the dressing room. Good question! Here’s what I do.

First, the rules: I do not leave the firearm unattended, even for a brief moment while I step out of the stall to look in the mirror. Also, I do not unnecessarily remove the firearm from its protective covering, which is my secure holster.

I didn’t used to be quite so … emphatic … about that first point. What harm could it do if I took six steps away from the gun? After all, it would be completely out of sight, inside its secure holster and hidden either inside my purse or under a pile of discarded clothing. I would literally be six steps away at most, and would certainly see anyone stepping into my room. How could that possibly cause a problem? Nobody could get into my dressing room stall without me seeing them, so no big deal… I thought.

My thinking changed the day someone’s rowdy three-year-old went galumphing at full speed into my stall while I was looking at the mirror just a few steps away, grabbed my pile of clothes and started throwing them out the door behind her. Of course I saw her running in, so I immediately dropped what I was doing and went to shoo her out (and then the child’s nasty obnoxious mom gave me a cussing-out for daring to tell her child what to do, when I asked her nicely to leave my things alone, not that I’m bitter or anything but really, lady, just control your sprog…)  Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yes. After that, I realized that leaving the gun out of my direct control was simply not good enough in this poorly controlled public space. Or around other people’s poorly controlled children.


The procedure is: leaving the firearm inside its protective holster, I remove the holster from my belt and place the whole thing into my purse. If I don’t have a purse with me that’s large enough, I set the holstered gun on the bench underneath the first item of spare clothing I can grab.

Change pants and look in the stall mirror.

If the pants make the first cut, it’s time for the second test: I put my belt on and slide my holster into place. Check the stall mirror. If it passes, then it’s out into the hallway, with gun still in place on my belt, for the distance check.

Yes, this implies I get completely dressed for the distance check in the three-way mirror, including whatever cover garments I need. Pain in the backside, but hardly the end of the world.

I can’t expose my waistband in the hallway mirror if there are people around. So I either wait until people are gone, or I check it in the stall mirror before stepping out, or (if there is no stall mirror and no sign of the crowd thinning out even for a moment), I sometimes leave the holstered gun in my purse and carry my purse with me into the hallway. Also, of course, it’s not that hard to gather up the loose ends of the cover shirt in one hand, holding it just over the holstered gun, so you can see all of the waistband except the holster itself. Whatever works.

What? Try on pants that won’t let me carry concealed? No way! It’s one thing to have a relic left over in my closet from the days before I cared about my safety, but now? Uh uh, no way. I refuse to buy clothing that won’t help me protect myself. If it doesn’t pass the “it can take a belt and can help conceal the holster” test, it stays in the store.

6 Responses to Dressing room

  1. larryarnold says:

    “Try on pants that won’t let me carry concealed? No way!”

    Right on. Any pants I buy have to accommodate an IWB holster and an IWB magazine pouch, and the belt loops have to be wide enough for my belt. So that’s part of the try-on.

    My wife has gotten used to it. She’ll put up with the few minutes wait rather than pass up the opportunity to shop.

  2. CNY DJ says:

    The dressing room / rest room used to be ad some times still can be a issue. One thing we discovered was a kewl product on was the unterteck t-shirts for either men or women and the under pants for women. I can wear almost any shirt over it and it will conceal my glock 23 or Ruger lcp and lc9 with no problem. Is confortable all day and unless you all an under the arm hug…. no one will ever know your carrying… they are that good.

    Not sure how well the ladies under pants work but look like they would be as good as the shirts.

  3. ciao_erin says:

    LOVE this article! I just got a new IWB holster, my first from Old Faithful I’ve been really struggling because it does not work as well with my current pants, so out to Old Navy to shop!

    What I did was detach the Glock and holster, and put to the side. Do the first test to see if the pants would even fit. Then I had to take the pants off, remove the gun, attach the holster, put the pants back on, and then put the gun back in the holster (all of course practicing safe hand holding). The reason that I learned to do it in that order, is at home, if I put the gun in the holster first, I learned the IWB holster is not designed to keep the gun in it if it turns upside down, and I didn’t want the gun on the floor. I never actually ventured outside the stall as I was fine with the mirror I had. Blog post to follow soon about the IWB holster and my womanly curves and how I deal with that at

    • larryarnold says:

      I’m not sure how your holster works, but most of the IWBs I’m familiar with are designed to be somewhat removable. Most states have places where we can’t carry, and you have to be prepared to disarm without disrobing.

      In my case I put on my pants, slide my IWB (containing my Glock) into my waistband, then thread my belt through the loop. Many holsters have clips or loops that open, so you can put them on with your belt already on.

      But as I said, I don’t know about your particular rig.

      • ciao_erin says:

        There are probably different ways to do it, but that was the simplest for me at the time, as it was still challenging to unattach the holster. It was eaiser to attach with the pants off. Now, I put pants on, then insert the holster. I just needed more practice.

    • ciao_erin says:

      I finally crafted my “How to Design a Concealed Carry Wardrobe” it is a simple tutorial with combined information from various awesome articles, but simplified down to bare basics.

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