For decades, women have had few choices when it comes to the clothing they can wear to hide that they’re carrying a firearm. They could wear baggy T-shirts or coats, or put it in a purse and hope it didn’t get swiped or that they didn’t have trouble getting it out in an emergency.
Enter holsters, corsets, camisoles and other clothing designed to be flattering, feminine — and functional — for the pistol-packin’ mama crowd.
“I don’t want to dress in tactical gear and camo all the time. I love tactical clothing for the range. It’s comfortable. I don’t want to ruin my everyday clothing,” said Marilyn Smolenski, who in 2012 created Nickel and Lace, a company that caters to women who want to carry a firearm concealed but don’t want to trade in their femininity. “But I don’t want to wear it to the grocery store.”
Smolenski started her company right around the time when Chicago city laws changed and she could again legally carry a firearm. When that happened, she struggled to find something that didn’t make her look frumpy and didn’t broadcast that she was packing heat. Most of the clothing was geared to men — coats with hidden pockets, or holsters that tuck neatly inside a waistband. But until the last few years, those weren’t always great options for women who don’t wear belts as frequently and are more likely than men to wear form-fitting clothing, making it difficult to hide the fact they’re carrying a firearm.