The firearm industry is practically doing backflips to meet the whims and needs of female carriers, and the number of options increases every year. But that doesn't mean every option is a good one.
To be acceptable, a holster must cover the trigger guard so nothing can get in there. That means testing, or if you're shopping online, envisioning yourself carrying or wearing the holster on a typical day. Is there anything on your clothing or in your environment that could get inside the trigger guard and cause the gun to fire?
For example, an economical soft-sided, belly band holster with stretchy elastic around the firearm, worn around the waist, is a safe setup for a day at the office. But when carrying my wiggly dog with his stiff toenails, it's not at all safe.
Your holster must also keep the gun secure until you draw it, and the holster itself should not be able to break away or fall from its hiding place.
For instance, the clipless, inside-the-waistband holster I often carry is secure in most situations, including jogging and riding a horse. But on those rare days when rock climbing or playing on gym equipment, this type of holster could allow the gun or gun and holster to fall out. In these cases I choose a different holster with retention devices.
Another important consideration in holster selection is efficiency- both in deploying the gun and also the ease of donning and shedding the holster every day. Some holsters can add significant time to your routine. If you're the type who dashes toward the front door with coffee spilling from one hand, keys in the other, don't choose a holster that takes more than a few seconds to add to your daily attire. If you do, you'll end up not wearing it at all.
In terms of accessibility, waist-region concealment is tops, although it often requires use of a belt, taut drawstring waistband or skin-tight spandex. A feminine profile and garb are still achievable with a holster carried inside the waistband. Popular fit-and-flare tops, in darker colors or patterns- long enough at the bottom to keep the gun hidden- are easy to clear during the draw.
Ankle carry is a viable option for pants wearers who are willing and able to bend deeply or hike a leg during the draw. One of the most discreet methods is when it's worn on the inside of the support-side leg with flared or boot cut pants- a great method for people who work in close proximity to others. Plan on using a subcompact firearm for this.
Garter-type thigh rigs are on the market and could appeal to dress-wearers. Retention of the entire holster and comfort, especially for women with varicose veins, could be concerns. As with any method, test this one extensively at home- with an unloaded gun- before venturing out in public.
3 Rules for Holster Selection
The holster must cover the trigger guard and provide sufficient retention for your lifestyle. There is some leeway here. For instance, some soft-sided holsters that are, by themselves, insufficient in terms of protection might be acceptable under stiff fabric worn tightly- like jeans- because the fabric itself provides a stiffening layer of protection
The holster has to be compatible with your daily routine. If it's too hard to put on or take off, you're less likely to wear it. The holster also has to allow you easy access to the gun while achieving a proper firing grip.
If you're not comfortable packing a loaded gun in it, it's not right for you.