This is my first attempt at a product review, and wow, is it going to be a personal one!
I’m not overly interested in doing bra reviews (at this time) because to be honest, I have a fairly large stash of bras that it’s not all that often that I’m buying new ones. There’s also another issue of putting my body out there on the internet, that I’m not totally thrilled about, and I don’t often have anyone available to photograph me.
With that said - I’ve been wanting to get myself a pair of leak-proof panties for nearly five years now, and I finally decided to order a pair on the internet and I just had to tell you all about it.
I did a little research project in university that looked at some of the leak-proof panty products on the market, because I do feel that the current sanitary protection items available to women are seriously lacking and need a revamp. I looked at some of the alternatives on the market, and attempted my own design. It didn’t go anywhere, but one day, I’m sure I’ll resurrect it. Meanwhile, there are a number of brands that offer leak-proof panties, that provide a solution to a variety of issues like bladder leakage, or sanitary protection back up.
The first brand I had ever heard of was Dear Kate - back when it was Sexy Period. Aren’t we all glad that name changed? While I was conducting my research, I found many others like Knix, Knockout and Stride (which no longer seems to have a website). Since that time Thinx and DiaryDoll have hit the market. All of these brands are for women who experience light bladder leakage or want extra protection while they’re menstruating.
I finally committed to purchase a pair after what I decided was going to be the LAST failure of my current sanitary product choice. It went exactly like this…in a Milton Keynes shopping mall, two days before Christmas, with a broken iPhone I needed to full-out replace, gum stuck to the back of my trouser leg, so I decide to buy new jeans, but I need a larger size than last time AND MY SANITARY PAD FAILS? DEFCON 1 is all I could explain to the BF about my state of mind and behaviour. Maximum readiness, prepare for my meltdown.
So, why does someone WANT a pair of leak-proof knickers?!
For me personally, I’m so tired of these embarrassing fails and the way they make me feel! As a woman, it feels like there is no worse horror than being in public or at work and your sanitary protection has failed, and there is a stain on your bottom. The constant checking in the bathroom, or the mirror, making sure you have a long enough shirt or cardigan, or are wearing really dark, or black jeans or trousers to camouflage any leaks is exhausting and nerve-wracking! What makes it worse is that I feel like I’m doing everything I can to prevent the leaks from happening. And I’m sure I’m not the only one!
I also don’t want my period to limit my options for clothing either! I can remember getting out a calendar and plotting out the months before choosing my wedding date based on this annoying bodily function. (Personal aside: no longer married, and this womb is NOT for rent!)
This past year, I also chose a stunning little yellow dress from Pepperberry for my university graduation. I wasn’t paying attention to the calendar and my handy little period tracker app (which I love, btw!) and all of a sudden this dress was no longer going to be an option. Argh, so frustrated! I just wasn’t going to chance it. I can’t trust Always. I’m always skeptical.
I apologize to any of my friends, family and coworkers who may read my blog and don’t want to know…but apparently 2015 was the year of the period and it’s time we stopped the hiding and shame we feel about this completely natural process our body goes through, in order to create life!
Here we go!
I purchase both LONG pantyliners and sanitary pads. On the days I menstruate, I double up. No, not with a tampon and a liner or pad - but BOTH my liner and pad. A liner more towards the front, and a pad more towards the back. I don’t know if I’m menstruating wrong (bad joke, sorry) or if I’m just too large in size for these already ‘long’ pads (like what do women that are size 20+ do?!) or what the issue is…but they’re just way too short!! I seem to experience a lot of failures if I just have the pad. If the pad is too far back, or my knickers move in the day, then there’s issues at the front. I move the pad more forward the next time…and then there’s issues at the back. BEYOND ANNOYING.
So, with the two, I find that I have a lot more surface area covered and the risk is reduced, but argh, screaming from the rooftops, why can’t it be eradicated?!
As it is, I feel like I’m wearing a stupid diaper. One that chafes, rubs and bunches, absorbs all other moisture that that skin down there feels dry and sensitive, sticky stuff attacking your hair and freaking plastic crunchy sounds when you’re walking. It’s bad enough I feel crampy, or have a backache or tender breasts, and then this?! WHY CAN’T THERE BE ANOTHER WAY!
Ok, ok. I’ve seen the menstrual cups — I did research alternatives as part of my university project. If it took me nearly 5 years to buy a special pair of period knickers, imagine how long it might take me to try one of these cup things…
I guess it was time to try out these period panties.
Stay tuned for ‘next week’ when I share with you which ones I chose and how they feel, fit and function!
Do you struggle with your sanitary products? Have you tried these 'period panties'? Would love to know your thoughts...like how many pairs should I really invest in?!
Shapes?! Lengths?! MM?! Style?! How do I actually choose my underwire??
Are you a home sewist? An indie designer? A new brand? How do you choose your wire? First things first, you might want to find out what shape you need. Doing a breast root trace will give you a clearer idea of your shape/client’s shape/fit model’s shape.
From the breast root trace, you can lay various underwires overtop to see if once sprung open (stretch the underarm part of the wire outwards) they match the shape of the trace. Wires are usually around 15mm in core sizes, upwards of 50mm in large cup sizes.
As for determining style of underwire, there are plunge wires, balcony wires, half cup/strapless wires…these all have a different wire profile suited for the bra that you will design. Shapes of wires are not interchangeable. Just because you want a shorter wire for your bra, does not mean that it may be the right shape. If you imagine an X-Y axis (a grid of sorts) the lowest point of the wire, we call it the balance point (BP), should be resting on X, and the centre front (CF) tip resting on Y. This shape then needs to be sympathetic to the shape of your cradle for a good and comfortable fit. You don't want to drastically 'rotate' the wire in order to fit it into your bra.
Wires come in a variety of lengths! Every size is different, every shape is different…but there is a theme to them. Wires grade up in size, just like our bra patterns. The ‘rules’ are different for each brand, and some ‘rules’ seem more common by region. I can only comment on what happens in the UK as that is where my training is from.
One thing that IS important to remember if you are building a brand for yourself - once you’ve chosen a ‘root shape’ for your wire, it’s probably a good idea to stick with it. Wires are designed as ‘families’ with shapes that are similar to each other, just different lengths and styles, like higher/lower centre fronts and underarms. As customers come back to purchase again from you, if you’ve switched to a wider or narrower underwire profile, they’re going to know, and your brand might not work for them anymore. Anyone that did try your brand, and the wires didn’t work for them, probably won’t be back to see what’s new.
In an earlier blog post I covered Core & Plus Size Grading, and just lightly touched on wire grading. In the UK, core size bras (usually A - D/DD cups) will grade their wires by 21mm. This means that each wire size is 21mm different from each other, so little bit longer and a little bit wider. I've included a photo in Underwires 102 of a graded nest of wires.
In what the UK calls plus size bras (DD+ cups) wires traditionally grade by 16mm. So not quite as much as core sizes, but from a 32F to a 38F, that wire is 48mm (4.8cm!) longer.
The above information is what is commonly found in the UK. Please note that the styles you buy, or the ‘rules’ in your region or company may use different or proprietary grading increments.
Lastly, when you’re selecting your underwires, it’s important to make sure that the wire is going to fit into your bra! You want to make sure that the wire fits, and that you have room for wire play, anywhere from 11 to 16mm is industry standard. This is room for the wire to move within the channeling. Too much or too little wire play may result in the wire popping out.
Looking for more information about underwires?
There was a blog post I came across yesterday that stirred-up quite a debate. A young Hollywood actress, who recently had a breast reduction, was criticised in the media for her choice.
When I first saw the headline, and then the post, I was upset. I had felt that people who didn’t know this woman were judging her and shaming her for her choice. Many others felt the same way, commenting their concerns towards the author. The article did share some of the same concerns that I have about poor education surrounding bra fit, as well as sizing information shared from surgeons.
The author of the blog had advocated for properly fitted bras, and I am too a huge advocate for wearing properly fitted bras, so much so that it’s become a part of my life, as I’ve focused my education and career around it. A good fitting bra literally changed my life.
But I can relate to this young actress, at the age of 17, I considered a breast reduction, and had a consultation with a surgeon. Only out of sheer fear did I not proceed. I am completely terrified of needles and the idea of willingly allowing surgery on my body was just too much for me to handle at that time. The whole process also seemed too quick, or easy, and I was scared to make such a lasting decision at 17. There were real risks, scarring and weeks of healing. All I had to do was say "yes" and I'd have been on the 1-year plus wait for the surgery. That's a lot for a 17-year old girl to take in.
I was active during high school, a member of the track & field club and even competed (only once!) at the provincial level as a sprinter. My breasts were out of control. I was buying both 38DD and 40DD from Wonderbra, and it was miles too loose around the back. I reckon I was likely a 34/36FF. It was because of some of these issues that I had investigated this option.
My relationship towards my breasts changed when I finally was properly fitted, and began to buy bras that were imported from Europe. As a young woman in Canada, there were no other options to find a 36G or H in traditional retail stores. These bras cost a small fortune to a student, that in the end I had to get a job at the shop so that I could get a small discount on these necessities. The change in size and structure of the bra was incredibly painful for the first week to ten days. I had felt bruised and raw from the pressure of the bra on my frame, but looking in the mirror, and knowing how a good bra fit, I knew that I had to push through. If I hadn’t, I’d likely still be in that horrible Wonderbra, in another life, doing a job that I didn’t love.
That properly fitting bra did change my life though. I slowly became more comfortable and confident with my body. I felt supported physically and was not fighting with my bra so much throughout the day. The straps were not slipping, the band was not riding up, my breasts were not trying to escape from the bottom. My clothes fit better, as did my seatbelt! My wires were also not breaking, so I was no longer replacing my bras, but building a collection. I finally felt sexy, being able to get the colours I wanted with bottoms to match in beautiful and luxurious fabrics. Something that was never available to me, even in a 40DD.
These days, I still have a love-hate relationship with my breasts. I’m more confident in my figure now than I ever was in my youth, but most days, my breasts hurt. I now regularly sleep in a Bravissimo sleep top in order to contain them. I find without a sleep bra, my tender or swollen breasts (more so during certain times of the month) get in the way, or my skin is pinched, or my long hair gets trapped or wrapped around them.
I’m a lingerie designer, and I’ve spent the last year and a half working with some of the largest lingerie retailers for big cups in Europe. I still struggle to find bras that are comfortable for my squishy frame and fussy brain. Wires that poke and dig, or flimsy laces that don’t support, bands that cut or dig, as well as shoulder straps that are too short, or even fold in half and bunch up, are just some of my fit issues.
I’m not certain that I’d have a breast reduction at this stage in my life. I know I’m not at my healthy body weight. There was a period in my life where I had nearly reached my goal weight, and I was able to fit into a 32F in a brand that had a smaller fit. I can only imagine how someone may feel if they were happy with the rest of their body and their weight if their breasts were causing them a lot of physical, mental or emotional grief. I would also encourage anyone considering surgery to try to find the best fitting bra that they can, and attempt to reach their goal weight, if they are drastically far from it. Surgery isn’t the only choice, but for some it’s necessary for their body or mind, and shouldn’t be criticised by others.
The article also criticises the sizing of the young woman, before and after her surgery. They go as far to suggest that she wasn’t wearing a properly fitted bra. We all know that brands fit differently - and we all know that not everyone, including surgeons, are up to speed on bra fit education. It is frustrating, because as a bra fitter, I have seen the disappointment so many times on women’s faces when they realise that their after-surgery size is still a large cup.
It’s been in my experience, a great number of times, that women post-surgery are usually not too far off from their pre-surgery size. A great deal of breast tissue can be removed, but I have found that the width of the breast root, has stayed relatively similar for a large number of these women, instead the depth of the breast has been reduced. If I had infinite resources, this would actually be a strong lead for my next round of studies, like pursuing my Masters degree.
I’ve had women in tears where they were a 36H prior to surgery, and still require a 36FF post-surgery, when their doctor had told them they’d now be a C cup. It’s disheartening because these women have very much tied their bra size to something emotional, and a surgeon, has led them astray. The opposite can also be true. Many women with smaller busts having enhancement surgery, believing they’re a 36A or B, and then get fitted post-surgery in 30G, where the style options are radically different from what they were expecting.
But with that said, I can't think of a single woman that told me she had regretted her decision. Of course, post-surgery, these women will still struggle with finding well-fitting bras, but many have been released from they physical, emotional and mental issues surrounding their breasts.
In general, so much more needs to be done to educate women about bra fitting. There also needs to be increased access to more sizes in retail stores around the world (I’m looking at you North America) and they have to be available at all price points.
I believe so passionately in that last statement, that it’s my life’s mission. That is the goal I am working towards, and I hope to be able to make a difference in the lives of women, so that they too can experience a good fitting bra. I really do believe a good fitting bra can change your life, I feel that I’m living proof!
Share - have you had a breast surgery, or ever considered it?
Educating women on the benefits of proper fitting bras is important to Kim. Designing lingerie that complements the fuller figure, and is comfortable, on-trend and beautifully constructed is her mission.
We are in charge of our bodies, and we make the decisions that are right for us, with no judgement. Kimtimates supports those who make their own choices about their own bodies. #yourbodyyourchoice #mybodymychoice