Dear Kate has been on my radar for a while. The brand offers pretty, classic underwear in a range of styles from simple lace to athletic stripes, all featuring absorbent, moisture-wicking, stain-resistant linings, designed to offer extra protection when a woman might need it, say, during menstruation, exercise, pregnancy, or post-baby.
Right off the bat, before we talk about the undies themselves, I need to give a huge round of applause to whoever writes Dear Kate’s website and marketing copy. I know this is a weird thing to start a review off with, but the fact is that whenever we start to talk about bodily fluids, particularly women’s, there’s a tendency to get very coy and twee and “tee-hee, our little secret wink-wink, let’s giggle about it over some low-calorie yogurt” about it. Or worse to say “gasp, how embarrassing! Avoid this hugely shaming thing by using our product!” Or even more bizarrely, to dance around the actual event (say, menstruation or incontinence) by running an ad full of now-cliched Women’s Happy Things, you know, like white pants and yoga and fields of flowers and oh-so-euphemistic “freshness”. And more fucking yogurt. When you pitch a product as a solution to something but you can’t even mention what the something is, it tells everyone that that something is shameful and embarrassing, and therefore that there might be something “wrong” with you if you experience it.
Dear Kate, on the other hand, is charmingly upfront (without being crude) about when a woman might want to wear a pair of their underwear. Different landing screens pitch the undies as being good solutions for the gym, for backup during your period, for pregnancy and maternity, and for occasional mild incontinence. The undies are designed made in New York, cut down on waste (you can skip daily disposable panty liners), and all styles offer two lining options: mini vs. full. A mini lining will hold up to one teaspoon of liquid, and a full lining will hold up to three teaspoons, with no bulky pads. The website is warm, judgment-free, and inviting. I was delighted when Dear Kate reached out to offer me a pair of my choice to review.
[NOTE: While Dear Kate provided this sample for review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
While I saw several styles that appealed to me, I decided to try the “Ella” style, which was introduced in 2013.
My personal style skews much more towards girly than towards athletic, and I was curious to see how this performance underwear would blend in with my drawers full of mesh and lace and frills and polka dots. The answer: really well.
The Ella briefs feature subtly detailed black mesh paired with light teal panels trimmed in dark teal ribbon.
Though the seat of the briefs is the same light teal, the linings are all black, to minimize stains (this goes for every pair of undies, even the beige ones, which are mercifully called beige, not nude. Good job, Dear Kate!)
I requested what I think of as my “regular” size (in some brands, like Freya, I find the briefs consistently run large and I size down, but I stuck to my regular size with Dear Kate), and the fit is spot on (the website’s size chart is very accurate). The briefs fit well with no digging or bagging.
While the rise is higher than a bikini brief, it’s a bit lower than I like, as I find it has a tendency to roll down to accommodate my belly. Nevertheless, the fit through the rear and hips is very nice. My hips aren’t as curvy as my bust, and so sometimes I find that once I get a size that fits my waist, I have a little extra room in the seat, but it’s not the case here– everything feels nice and smooth.
I requested to try the full lining, because I was curious to see what it looked like! While the fabric feels substantially thicker than a pair of basic cotton undies, it’s still remarkably thin, soft, and smooth, especially considering it’s performance underwear. It feels just like you’re wearing, you know, underwear: no bunching, no wrinkling, no bulky pads, and no discomfort.
I tend to use and abuse the briefs I buy to match my bras– I wear them to the gym and to dance classes, and they’re just not built for it. Dear Kates are, and I love having an option in my drawer I can throw on with my workout gear when I know I have an intense gym session ahead of me. In the future I’ll probably stick to the mini linings, as I don’t really need the full one– I’m not and have never been pregnant, and my menstrual cycles aren’t severe, but it’s nice to know I have backup in case something changes.
Overall I’m really impressed, both with the company and with the product. The undies are cute, comfortable, and super functional– just all-around fantastic underwear. I love all of the lookbook images (there’s a ballet dancer and an aerialist!), and I love that they’re beginning to introduce plus sizes into their lineup. There are several other styles I’m considering trying, including the Margot and the Rosa, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next!
[UPDATE: Dear Kate has generously offered a discount code to readers of Sweet Nothings! Through January 31, using the code “sweetnothings” gets you 25% off your order on Dear Kate’s official site!]
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