I recently became aware of Varda Concealed Carry and its clothing products. Varda says their line balances concealment with exceptional comfort and style. I tried out a polo shirt and a pair of concealment sweats. I've worn the clothing for a couple of months, and here are my thoughts.
Varda Concealed Carry Clothing —
Concealed carry is far from being a fringe activity, and its growing popularity demands diversity in clothing style preferences.
Varda's strategy is to make clothing that doesn't look tactical or oversized yet still provides concealment and comfort for everyday carriers. The owners described this a bit further by saying:
We wanted clothes in which we could conceal carry, but clothes that we did not feel like it already looked like we were carrying. We wanted clothes that we could carry in that we could wear to work, to the store, to the golf course, or just to the couch in the living room.
Varda provided me with a couple of their products to test and evaluate. I received the short sleeve concealment polo and their fleece sweatpants. I've had the clothing for a few months, which gave me time to wear and wash the items many times.
Men's Concealment Polo —
The polo comes in heather gray or indigo blue colors and sizes large through 2X.
The website says the shirt has a slim fit, and I can confirm that. To help figure out your sizing, I am 5'6″, weigh 155 pounds, and wear a Medium in the photos.
Two layers of 86% polyester and 14% spandex material make up the concealment polo. This material gives it a soft, stretchy feel and stays pretty much wrinkle-free.
The collar on the shirt was thick, and after washing the shirt several times, the collar hadn't rolled or lost its shape. The buttons are securely sewn and fit tightly in the buttonhole, which keeps the shirt looking sharp and dressy.
The shirt is to be worn untucked, and this is where a unique feature of the shirt comes into play.
Unique Comfort/Concealment Feature –
Many concealed carriers wear an undershirt, so they have a layer of clothing between the gun's grip and their skin. All of Varda's shirts, the polo, t-shirt, and tank top aim to do away with the second shirt requirement. Instead, the bottom half of Varda's shirts have a second shirt sewn in. The inner shirt gets tucked in behind the gun and provides a layer of material between the firearm and skin, leaving the outer layer to conceal the gun.
You can see how this works in practice in the included video review and clip below.
The shirt's design didn't hinder my draw stroke. Additionally, it works with any inside or outside the waistband carry position.
I don't wear an undershirt most of the time, but when I do, I recognize the benefits. This shirt allows me the comfort of an undershirt without wearing one. The benefits would be evident in warm weather when wearing multiple layers of clothing makes it uncomfortable.
You can see a horizontal seam where the inner shirt attaches to the outer shirt. It's evident once you know it's there. When I first saw the shirt, I was concerned that the seam might draw attention to my midsection and any printing of the gun under the shirt.
Wearing the Polo Shirt at Church –
I am part of our Church Security Team ministry. I wore the shirt on one day I was serving. I purposely didn't mention the integrated inner shirt or note the seam. Throughout the day, several people told me that they liked my “new shirt,” saying it looked “dressy” and “comfortable.”
To my surprise, no one mentioned the seam. Finally, nobody said it drew their attention until I asked if anyone noticed the seam.
I concluded that the seem is noticeable if you focus on it, but most people won't notice it. And if they do, it doesn't look strange enough for a second glance or further scrutiny. I compare it to when we become overly focused on our firearm printing under our clothing. We see every little outline because we know the gun is there. Yet, no one else, even when they see a bump, recognizes it as a gun.
Fleece Sweatpants —
The fleece sweatpants are incredibly soft and comfortable. Varda uses 95% Cotton and 5% Elastane material in the sweatpants. The inside is softer than the other regular sweatpants I own. Unfortunately, the pants are only available in gray and size Medium through 2XL.
The waist doesn't have a drawstring, just elastic. I am glad the pants don't use a drawstring; they are a liability when carrying in the appendix position.
I have a 34″ waist and am wearing a medium size. I found the pants fit me perfectly in the waist. The cuffs don't have elastic, so they wear more like regular pants than sweats. For me, the legs were a couple of inches long, so I hemmed them. It isn't unusual that I need to shorten my pants because I am only 5'6″ tall.
The pants have two deep side pockets, a back pocket, and a false fly in the front.
How to carry your gun wearing sweatpants –
Unless you have a holster system like the Phlster Enigma, carrying your gun while wearing sweatpants requires a sub-optimal setup. However, Varda's fleece sweatpants overcome this problem very well.
Essentially, the sweats have 4 fabric “belt loops” on the inside of the waistband. You feed your 1.5″ gun belt through the loops, and you're in business. This system allows you to use your regular holster and clips without modification. Unless you happen to modify the pants, you probably won't be able to use soft belt loop clips.
The fabric belt loops cover the belt, so it doesn't rub against your skin. Because of this configuration, you don't sacrifice comfort by having the belt inside the pants.
Final thoughts on Varda's clothing line —
Varda wanted to sell clothes that you could wear in different settings and wasn't “tactical.” They accomplished this. They also wanted the clothing to address some comfort issues that affect concealed carriers. The inner lining on the shirt provides this without adding a separate undershirt.
The sweats are great. I like that I can wear sweatpants yet still use my everyday carry holster and belt.
In my talks with Co-Founder Owen Pickard at SHOT show, he mentioned the company is planning on offering some more products with women in mind.
You can learn more about Varda's products on their website, www.vardaconcealedcarry.com.
EDC Belt CO. – The Choice for Concealed Carriers —
My everyday carry belt is the foundation belt from EDC Belt Co. It is also the belt I use during my evaluation of the Varda sweatpants.
I can't remember the last time I wore any belt other than my Foundation Belt from EDC Belt Company. The low-profile belt is perfect for everyday carry and fits different clothing styles. It is sufficiently stiff where it needs to be but soft in other locations allowing it to conform comfortably to your body.
You can read more about the Foundation Belt in this post, where I give my evaluation.