I first heard about Armed and Styled after my husband, and Primer Peak editor, was on the Primary and Secondary Podcast in February 2021. I started following Tessah shortly after. At the time I had zero interest in conceal carrying and owning a gun. Regardless, I loved seeing a normal girl talking about conceal carrying and dressing normal, so I gave her a follow. Tessah has been my inspiration as I attempt to be an armed and styled gal myself. She graciously agreed to be interviewed and give some insight into her growing account.
Can you give us a brief background if readers are not familiar with Armed and Styled?
Armed and Styled is a place where people can come and read about gun ownership, concealed carry, concealment principles and techniques as well as styling advice for the non tactical concealed carrier.
What are some trends you see in the industry in firearms or fashion culture that everyone could benefit from?
Many of the current fashion trends are very conducive with concealing a gun on your person. One of my favorite fashion trends is front tucking shirts! Especially if a top is made up of a natural fiber such as linen, silk or cotton. When we front tuck our top into our pants it creates a "concealment bubble" around our gun (when carrying between 10-2). I also love this trend when paired with a medium rise pant because it tricks the eye into thinking the wearer is actually taller than they are. Being that I am only five feet tall on a good day, I'll take that kind of illusion any day of the week, especially if it's also aiding in concealment!
A "trend" (if you could call it that) that I've noticed in the firearms industry is the major influx of women wanting to get involved both in responsible firearms ownership as well as training. In the past we have seen women often being met with bad advice regarding firearms recommendations as well as concealed carry accessories such as holsters and aftermarket parts. I am glad to say that I have noticed this "trend" of bad information decreasing as more women get involved in the industry.
What got you started with conceal carry?
It wasn't until I started dating my now husband ([in] 2015) that I got involved in shooting at all. My now husband encouraged me to get into concealed carry as soon as I was 21, but I wasn't interested in taking on that kind of responsibility, so I took to alternative self defense tools like pepper spray. It wasn't until we relocated to a city in far west Texas that I changed my mind about concealed carry.
Within the first month of moving, there was a mass shooting that took place in a store I frequented. Although I was not present for the shooting, I realized that I very well could have been there, and I would not have had any way to defend myself. Within weeks of the shooting I had taken my *Texas LTC class, had gotten my fingerprints done and was waiting on my LTC card to arrive in the mail.
*Texas LTC, license to carry, conceal carry permit
Your photos and videos are always high quality, whether they're on my phone or TV. Tell us about your setup.
When I started my Instagram I knew that I didn't want it to just be another personal account where I shared photos from my iPhone 6. Newer iPhone cameras can actually produce amazing quality photos and video, but I happened to have a Canon Rebel T6 on hand that I used up until very recently when I switched to a Canon M50 with a Sigma 16mm lens.
What goes into making your videos?
My videos start with a topic idea and a brainstorm on paper. For example, if my video is about holster wedges, my brainstorm will consist of everything I know about holster wedges, and how to use them. Once I've brain dumped I will then turn that into a more neat looking outline with specific topics and subtopics to touch on. Once I have the outline put together I will set up my lights, and camera in my living room and start filming!
Filming usually takes me an hour to two hours depending on the video, and editing can take me anywhere from two to four hours depending on the video. I'm currently using a Canon M50 with a Sigma 16mm lens, Rode [VideoMicro] microphone, the light from my window and a Neewer LED panel for my second light source.
What kind of training have you received?
My husband introduced me to shooting when we first started dating, and took me through all of the basics. I attended my first formal class with John Johnston of Citizens Defense Research back in December of 2020, and my second was just this July at the Armed Parent/Contextual Handgun with Melody Lauer and John Johnston. I have also been invited to attend John Murphy's Street Encounters Skills and Tactics course this September. Outside of firearms training I have also been practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since February of 2021.
Do you have a preferred carry setup?
My preferred carry setup has changed drastically since my first day of carrying. I have a video on my [YouTube] channel that outlines all of the different preferences I've had over the last year and a half. I am currently carrying in a Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker holster with the DSG fixed retention kit. I use the Enigma, from PHLster, to take advantage of the concealment features from the Dark Wing, while also being able to carry entirely independent from my waistband, which allows me to carry in almost anything.
When it comes to my clothing, I very much prefer to wear natural fibers, particularly when it comes to my tops. In the summertime I live in linen tops, both to keep me cool, but also to take advantage of the concealment features that particular fabric has to offer. Linen holds it's shape better than any other fabric I've worn, which helps to prevent printing even on particularly windy days. I've noticed that even though I can carry independently from my waistband, I still prefer to wear a medium rise pants. I've found that medium rise is the most comfortable, and can even play a role in concealment especially when compared to low rise pants.
For folks interested in personal protection, but not yet ready to make the leap into firearms, what are some alternatives you'd recommend?
Alternative self defense tools can be a tough topic to dive into, there are a lot of misconceptions on what is safe, what actually works and what can ultimately introduce further personal risk in a self defense encounter. I believe that a good OC spray is a great tool to have, even for those who are already carrying guns, but more importantly professionals like Chuck Haggard, Annette Evans, John Correia, John Murphy, Cecil Burch and many others encourage the use of OC spray as well. In addition to a quality OC spray, a bright handheld light can be a very useful tool.
What have been some challenges you've faced to make your style and carrying compatible?
Carrying in dresses has been one of the most challenging parts about female clothing and carrying a gun. I personally have not found carrying on my thigh in any orientation to be comfortable or concealable. The Enigma has been the solution to carrying in a dress, especially in more flowy dresses.
What are some of your best resources that've helped you along the way?
There weren't many resources that I could find at the beginning of my concealed carry journey. There was a lot of trial and error at first, and then I started learning more about the purpose of holster concealment features such as wings, wedges, holster length and overall holster design that collectively made concealment and customization a lot more simple. Knowledge is power, and that principle is no different when it comes to concealed carry. Until we understand HOW concealment works we are much more susceptible to poor gear choices, and endless useless holster purchases.
How would you modify your style to corporate America?
Dressing in corporate America, in my mind, isn't all that different from casual dress. The clothing items are essentially the same, they're just more polished and put together. In the casual world I might wear jeans instead of slacks. My holster set up would largely remain the same, although, depending on the tightness of my top or slacks I might consider either making small adjustments to my enigma or even sizing down from my Glock 48 to a Glock 42. Whether dressing for the corporate or casual world, having options can be very beneficial.
Have you found specific cuts, materials, colors, and more that help better than others?
Tops that have a bit more drape to them, especially when they are made up of a natural fiber, are much more forgiving when it comes to slide and grip printing. I have several tops in my closet that fit that description, and they are very handy to have around, especially if I'm needing to run out the door without messing with minor concealment adjustments.
Below the belt printing is something that ladies tend to run into a lot more than men, and no, that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with anatomy, but rather the general fit and design of [men's] vs. [women's] pants. [Men's] pants tend to have a looser fit around the crotch, whereas [women's] pants tend to be more fitted in that area, which can allow for more below the belt printing. For both men and women, I have noticed that low rise pants tend to accentuate this problem whereas mid rise pants tend to interact with the natural waist as well as the holster body in a more favorable manner.
What are your short and long term goals with your YouTube and Instagram?
My short and long term goals for my YouTube channel aren't very different from each other. Since day one the goal has been to provide information that I wish I had access to when I was just getting started. My followers and subscribers are essentially learning alongside me!
What made you decide to start Armed & Styled?
I didn't really "decide" to start Armed and Styled, at least not with the intention of it turning into anything other than a creative outlet. I had shared little bits and pieces of concealed carry content on my personal Instagram, but I quickly learned that wasn't a topic I wanted my friends and acquaintances knowing about. So I decided to make a different account for that purpose. "Armed and Styled" started out as a creative outlet for me in the middle of COVID quarantine, and has grown into something I never would have imagined.
Who is on your shortlist for training?
There are so many classes I would like to take right now, but cost, travel and availability are all things I have to consider. After I take John Murphy's "Street Encounter Skills and Tactics" class in September I would like to prioritize taking Mag-20 with Massad Ayoob, and ECQC with Craig Douglas. Not only are those classes at the top of my priority list, but they also happen to be the most difficult to get to, and will require travel. Beyond those two courses I am also looking to take classes with Cecil Burch of Immediate Action Combatives, M.A.P.P.S. with Chris Cypert of Citizens Defense Research, and Practical Performance with Tim Herron. This list only continues to grow by the day.
Any products you're looking forward to trying?
Yes, PHLster recently revamped their Skeleton holster design. So far they have released models for the Sig P365 and the Glock 43/43x models. They plan to release Skeletons for a much larger gun selection in the upcoming months and I am so excited to pick one up for my Glock 48. The low profile and simplistic design of the Skeleton paired with the Enigma is a combination I can hardly wait to get my hands on.
Where can people find you online?
I am very active on my Instagram and YouTube. I am also very responsive to Instagram messages and post at least once a week, and I share two videos a week on my YouTube Channel. My [Instagram] handle is @armed_and_styled and my YouTube Channel is "Armed and Styled". I also have a website where I keep an archive of my past Instagram posts so that people can easily use the search bar to find specific post topics.