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!
I chose the DiaryDoll knicker because it seemed to be the only European/UK based brand. For quick shipping and no chances of duties or customs charges being applied to my order, I selected their knicker, panty, brief, bottom...whatever you wish to call it. Now, from looking at their website, they only have one style, in four sizes, and in four colours, black being my obvious choice. It’s a relatively limited size range, with me requiring the largest - the UK 18/20, which they call Size 4, which seems appropriate for fit, my most recent purchases of jeans were a UK18 from Next and a size 16 in Canada from Marks Work Warehouse.
I wasn’t able to get the knickers direct from DiaryDoll as they were out of stock in my size in black. Searching online, I also found them on Debenhams (which aren't on there anymore!), but wasn’t able to complete the purchase online using PayPal or my Canadian credit card. I then discovered them at Boots! Since I live in Germany, and I didn’t want to ship them here and pay any extra postage, I had them shipped to my UK address and my partner brought them to me on his most recent visit. They were quickly delivered and I was excited to see them to give them a try!
They came in a cute little blue box and were folded nicely inside. I opened it up, took them out…AND LAUGHED HYSTERICALLY. And then I just got angry, and concerned.
The knickers are not quite what I anticipated. As a lingerie designer, specialising in grading, I know a thing or two about how knickers should look. The gusset on these was incredibly wide! Nearly double the width of knickers that I usually wear on any given day. I was so shocked I messaged some blog-lady friends on Facebook who are cross-posting some leak-proof panty reviews, and they confirmed that theirs were not nearly as wide.
The comparison! My size 4 (18-20) DiaryDoll knicker has a gusset width just shy of 11cm. My Bravissimo knickers in a size XL (UK16) are about half that at 5.5cm, which admittedly are a bit narrow, but I've honestly no complaints about these knickers (besides the fact they are a bit high at the waist in the back for me.)
I reached out to DiaryDoll on Facebook, and they assured me that the width of the gusset was intentional to be able to fit a nighttime-style pad and still help prevent leaks. Oh-kaaay…
First Wear: The knickers fit well around the waist and hip and leg openings. I put these knickers through their paces first wear with a road trip. After walking about 7.5km and sitting on a combination of busses and trains for 5+ hours here are some of my fit, feel and function thoughts.
Based on the price, these knickers are about 3x the cost of my normal, everyday cotton knickers that I buy in a 3-pack. Since they’re “special” I really don’t think the cost is that much of an issue. The knickers are made in China, which is a tad disappointing, as I kinda wish I would have spent 2x as much as I did, and rather have got the Dear Kates, which come in way more styles and colours, have lace details, were one of the first doing this (if not the first) AND they are made in New York City, so more likely to be ethically made.
Second & Third Wear: Ok, I’ll admit. I like the idea of these, so I’ve been hand washing them at night and laying them on the radiator to dry. I’ve only got one pair…and they’re for a certain few days in my calendar each month. The bunching is less noticeable, but I know I don’t need these knickers so wide in the gusset. I won’t pick up a second pair, as I’d prefer to give another brand a shot.
Overall opinion: They’ll do, but I will seek out other leak-proof panties for alternative and interesting designs, as these aren’t any more interesting than the black cotton Jockey bikinis I wear most days. As a lingerie designer, the incredibly wide gusset on these knickers still bothers me. I wonder how wide it is in the smaller sizes? Has anyone tried them, or other leak proof knickers?
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?!
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