Dear Kate Wicking Underwear–For Those Not-So-Planned Panty Problems

Clothing and Cosplay GeekMom
Image by Dear Kate

Let’s talk delicately. About your delicates.

There comes a time in a lady’s life when everything she understood about the land between her legs ceases to be true. It’s a special time called “motherhood.” For years you probably had a relatively predictable monthly cycle. You knew about when it was going to happen and what it was going to be like. (Of course, that’s not entirely true for all of us, but for the general population, even if it’s horrible, at least you know to expect horrible.) Then bam. One day you gave birth. You bled for six weeks, give or take, then your monthlies returned… eventually… in a less-than-monthly fashion. And maybe not even the way they were before. On top of that, perhaps you found that when you laughed too hard or sneezed, other bits started leaking. Then you try to get some of the baby fat off by going to the gym, look in the mirror, and discover you’ve made the least attractive sweat stain ever. And thus your bundle of joy has quickly turned you into a plumbing disaster and a laundry problem.

Dear Kate is underwear designed with all that in mind, whether it’s leakage from sanitary supplies that just can’t hold up their end of their bargain, the result of “oh, psh, Kegels, whatev,” or just when Aunt Flo shows up with her baggage unannounced. You say, “Dear Kate, not again,” and they hop up and say, “yup, that’s what we’re made for.” And not only that, but they’re pretty to boot, and they come packaged in a sweet little box with a label styled after 1950s underwear packaging.

Image by Ruth Suehle

This is one of those products that was born out of a need. Julie Sygiel was a student at Brown University with the assignment to create a product “a solution to an everyday problem.” And now you know what everyday problems Julie’s friends were facing! After graduation, she took the concept to production, along with research and focus groups that told her 60% of women had problems with period overflow and 1 in 4 women were experiencing incontinence problems–particularly new and soon-to-be moms.

So after all that research, what are they like? I have to admit, when Dear Kate offered to send me a sample of their product line to try out, I was a bit stymied about addressing their private purpose in this oh-so-public forum. The only answer is to do it the geek way: with science. Dear Kate advertises that their lovely lingerie can hold up to three teaspoons of liquid, so I put it to the test–with a measuring spoon and a dish of water.

Do you like my new Star Trek fabric? Does it distract you a bit from the fact that we’re talking about my underwear? Good. I feel better. Onward, for science! Image: Ruth Suehle

I actually made it to just over four teaspoons before the water stopped absorbing and started pooling on the surface of the fabric. Of course, as one friend put it, there’s a difference between how much they hold and how much you want them to hold while wearing them. Three teaspoons is probably an entirely valid line in the sand for the latter, but three teaspoons is quite a bit of liquid.

The outside layer is breathable but waterproof, and the edges proved leakproof as well, containing our experiment where it belonged. I expected the outer layer to resemble PUL, the polyurethane fabric often used for cloth diaper liners. The outer layer is actually mostly nylon and Lycra with a micro-polyester inside. They also don’t resemble your baby’s cloth diapers’ stacks of fabric protecting the world from bodily fluids. Dear Kates definitely have a thick hand to them, more than your average pair of drawers. But it’s not in an uncomfortable way. Rather, it’s a sturdiness you’ll never find in those 6-pairs-for-$8 bags of cotton undies at Target, and that makes me feel like they’ll last a long time. You won’t feel diapered up at all–these are among the softest, most comfortable underwear I’ve ever worn. And I put the comfort to the test with an international flight and subsequent walk across Paris to my hotel with frame pack on my back. If there is opportunity for slipping, sliding, wedgies, or literal panties-in-a-bunch, that’s it. And there was none of it.

This is what happens when you pour water on the outside. No absorbency here, which means it’s all going to stay on the inside! That’s about three teaspoons of water lounging around there. Image: Ruth Suehle

The down sides? First, they’re not yet available in plus sizes, so you need a hip measurement between 32″ and 46″. And they’re not cheap, particularly if you’re accustomed to that 6-for-$8 bag. They range from $30-$36 per pair for the underwear or $85-$135 for sets of three or five pairs. Dear Kate also makes a body suit and a bralet to match. But you don’t have to replace your entire lingerie drawer–if it’s a monthly leakage problem, you only need them sometimes–and can consider it a one-time insurance payment against worrying about who’s standing behind you and whether that wet feeling means your delicates are making you look less than delicate.

I was sent a pair of Dear Kate briefs for review.

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