With the summer season approaching, and me living a five minute walk from the Baltic Sea in Northern Germany, my friends persuaded me to buy a swimsuit so we could either a) go swimming at the beautiful indoor/outdoor pool near the German/Danish border or b) go to the beach when it finally gets warm.
I don’t currently have a swimsuit in Germany, and I don’t think anything in my stash back in the UK would fit, so it was time to bunker down and see what was out in the market. That sounds a bit strange, but I was looking for something very particular when it comes to my swimsuit - I prefer a bikini.
It doesn’t matter what shape or size you are anymore, you can wear whatever you damn want to. I started wearing bikinis ten years ago when I bought one for a trip to Greece. I was super scared as I had only ever worn one-pieces and tankinis up to that stage. I had lost some weight and this was supposed to be my ‘honeymoon’ and hell - I was going to a different continent, so why not rock out in a bikini?
I love bikinis because being a large busted lady, I can get the fit to be spot on for the top, and buy bottoms that do what I need to do for the lower half. Cover a tummy, not crawl up my bum, and be the size that feels comfy.
Fast forward to today - I now work at a lovely place where I design swimwear for larger busts, and have access to a GIANT warehouse filled with things that work for those with a fuller chest, but finding a bikini was still a struggle! I want a top with normal shoulder straps. These things are much too heavy for anything to be worn without straps or tied around my neck. The other important bit is that it have really nice full, high waisted bottoms. Looking through the website at work, there were 35 potential top options in my size, woo hoo! Looking at the bottoms that I wanted, only two, and they were the same, just in different colours/prints. The bigger downside, the tops to match the bottoms didn’t come in my size.
So, trawling through the internet, like I do every day, I notice a photo of a really, really nice looking bikini - worn by THE Ewa Michalak. I don’t think too much of it until an outing with my friends saying “you have to get a swimsuit!”, and the next morning I’m doing some online shopping…from Ewa Michalak in Poland.
Ewa Michalak - The Narrow Wire & Projection Goddess
Now, I’ve ordered from Ewa once before, although the bra was for study, and not for me to wear. I’m familiar with the Ewa philosophy/phenomenon, whatever you wish to call it. This woman (the company is named after her) has quite the online following in the bra community.
The bras aren’t stocked in many retail locations, only a handful around the world, so you pretty much order online, direct from the company. From what I gather, not a lot of stock is held either, and pieces are made to order. My bikini set was made to order and took weeks to arrive. Thankfully Poland is right next door, and when I missed one small detail on my address, the package was sent back to Poland, and I had to wait for it again.
The Technical Bits
Anyways, Ewa bras are known for a few things - first of all, the size range. This particular item, the S Kostium Saint-Tropez, is available from a DD cup to a K cup, and special order as small as a C cup, up to a M cup. Band sizes range from 65 to 105, which is 30 to 46 when working with inches. That’s an impressive size range!
Secondly, she’s known for a very tailored cup shape - which is due to the use of a very narrow underwire. If you look at an Ewa bra wire, it’s a very different shape. Instead of having a very round, “O” shape, it has a very strong and pronounced “U” shape where it is more straight at the side underneath the arm. This wire shape is good for women with narrow breast roots, as well as women with small band sizes and large cup sizes.
I talked about Ewa wires once before in a blog post, so you can learn a bit more here.
With the wire being such a different shape from most brands, the cups are also different too. They have a lot more projection! In this ’S’ style bikini top, it is a five piece cup. There are 4 lower cup pieces that run vertically, and one cup piece along the top of the breast running horizontally. Having more bottom cup pieces allow us to add more volume into the bottom of the cup, which helps direct the shape forward.
You have to remember that these garments are made from flat patterns and flat pieces of fabric. The more seams you have built into the cup, the better we can manipulate the shape of the breast.
One final interesting thing is that Ewa makes a lot of bras out of foam. In this style, it is not overly stiff, but is lightweight. I’ve not worn it in water yet, so I’m not sure just how much water it may retain when wet. It does have small removable pads that can add more ‘push up effect’ which I definitely don’t need, but a lot of women use the pads to correct for asymmetry, which everybody has.
Now I don’t know enough of the history of Ewa Michalak, but this may be one of the first swimsuits (bikinis) that she’s produced. There are certainly a some criticisms online, but as a designer, and someone who works constantly with small minimums, I can understand the decisions made in the design.
It really does look like a bra.
The biggest noticeable bra-like thing is the fact that it has hooks and eyes (3 x 3) in the back for a closure. There is no clasp. The design has two little ‘flouncy’ bits of fabric that you can tie together over the back to cover the hooks. I’ll survive. As a designer, I know that a clasp in Zamac (a metal alloy that doesn't conduct heat) is a lot more expensive - in this case compared to hooks & eyes, more than 5x the cost, and there are minimums. Seeing how Ewa already uses hooks and eyes for bras, and if she’s not producing many swimwear pieces yet, investing in 500+ clasps may not be realistic. Ewa, if you somehow happen to read this, give me a shout and I'll tell you about my lovely clasp supplier!
The straps are wide at 22mm, but in my size, that is needed. They have nylon-coated sliders to adjust in the back, and for me, the straps are lengthened the entire way, I’m only 5’ 3.5” if that’s of any help.
The inside of the cup and cradle has been lined with a rigid stabilizer, and the wings lined in a heavy powernet. The inside of the bottom is also lined with this same heavy powernet.
The pink swimwear fabric has a nice handle to it. It feels medium in its weight and is not shiny, but matte. It is soft and feels strong. I have high hopes that it will hold up to substantial wear - the 'proper' beach is a short journey on the bus for me! I hope to spend a few days there this summer.
The removable pads are incredibly lightweight foam. I’ve just popped one under the water in the sink and it does retain a fair bit of water. Note to self, give the breasts a little squeeze with arms/elbows when getting out of the water, otherwise I’ll drip for days.
There are two small straps included as an accessory. To go with the ‘strappy/bondage’ trend that has been around for a few years now, these small 6mm adjustable straps decorate the neckline. I’m certain it won’t take me long to lose one of them, but the top is perfectly functional without them.
Construction & Quality
The construction of both pieces looks rather solid. A very wide and long 3 step zig zag has been used to turn up the bottom edge of the band on the top and the waist and leg openings on the brief. The black contrast tape, secured with a slightly less-wide 3 step zig zag, hides the seams on the bikini top well. Due to the construction of the bra, there are raw, exposed seams where the foam cup pieces are butted-up to each other, the black taping hides these.
There is one spot on the underarm where the elastic has been stitched down where the stitch isn’t evenly spaced. On a large commercial production run, this would likely be rejected by quality control. Knowing my bikini top was made to order, next door in Poland, it’s not something that I’ll bat an eyelash at.
I do wish that the wire casing was of higher quality. I won't be wearing this top for extended periods of time, nor for every day, but if the regular bra uses this same casing, I'm curious how it holds up to daily wear in the larger cup sizes.
Sizing & Fit
I struggled that Sunday morning to decide just what size I was going to order. I know from reading online that Ewa bras fit snug and small in the cup. I *usually* wear a 34GG but have gained some weight recently, so let’s say I’m probably more of a 36GG right now.
I settled on a 85GG/38GG hoping that it would fit a bit looser and I could take it in on the back if needed. Swimwear usually fits a bit tighter as most pieces are lined. This top fits snug, just comfortably for me, and I prefer my bands firm. If you’re interested in actual measurements, I have listed the measurements for this top on Bratabase. The cup size fits remarkably well. I’m not sure if a 85H would have been too big, I may have needed the pads. The wires do fit quite narrow and feel a bit strange. I have some swooping to bring everything forward, but think that my shape can handle the narrow underwires.
The top has a significant amount of lift and projection. I feel incredibly boobilicious in it. It’s supporting, and I don’t think I’ll have any accidents, but I’m certain that it emphasises the size of my bust.
The bottoms fit really well. They cover my bum and the tummy spots that I’m trying to hide. They are a size 46, and I think a 44 would have been much too tight, and a 48 may still work, but I think the leg/bum area might be too large.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the fit and styling of the set and hope that I can get lots of wear out of it on the beach this summer! Solitude, here I come!
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