Full review of the Clare top & Melanie bottoms
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Sensi Graves is a professional kiteboarder. She started making bikinis because she couldn’t find any that lived up to expectations (sound familiar?). When it comes to bikinis for active women, it takes one to know one, so her brand of bikinis ‘for girls that rip’, was top of my review list.
Sensi Grave Bikinis offer a great range of crop-top style, cross back and adjustable strap bikinis.They have played with many different cross back options and designs in their range. While there aren’t too many colour-ways available, what styles they do offer, are made really well. Unlike other bikini brands, Sensi Graves backs a number of women athletes from rock climbers, kiteboarders, wakeboarders to surfers. Constant feedback from their athletes is continuously improving the product and each athlete has their own model bikini within the range.
Testing the 2016 Claire Top $52 & Melanie Bottom $45 – Island Palm print (US$)
Why I chose this style?
My contact at Sensi Graves suggested I try the Claire Top for surfing. In hindsight, the sexy hole in the middle of the bikini was not the best style for a fuller chested surfer like myself. Heavy wipeouts or deep and committed duck dives, resulted in my boob sucker-punching an escape through that hole! It was manageable but not ideal for bigger surf. The Claire Top would be great for a smaller chested girl in the surf, or for small wave days… it did look great though!
What I loved
Thick band over the rib cage:
The cross back straps of the bikini top, loop through two sections of the back part of the bikini, towards the back of your ribs. This really holds tight around your rib cage and dissipates the tension across the wider surface area of your back. Having the extra fabric go round towards the back of my ribs rather then end just under my arm meant I had zero rubbing from the bikini when paddling.
High cross back helped relieve pressure off the shoulders:
Having two cross sections rather than one, pushes the cross back higher up your back. This lessened the stress and weight of the straps on my shoulders. The cross back was really comfortable to surf in and the bikini never once rose up as I could comfortably tie it tight around by ribs.
Thick, quality fabric:
The fabric is great quality and the liner used in the bottoms held them solidly in place. All products are made in the USA to limited the environmental impact from worldwide shipping. They also incorporate recycled fabrics into their suits.
The cut is really flattering in both the top and the bottoms. I loved how the bottoms had a subtle ‘scrunch butt’ detail and a thick band of fabric across the hip. It didn’t ‘roll’ down when I duck-dived (I am wearing a size small that would ordinarily be too small for me but for surfing, it needed to be super tight to stay put).
The Melanie Bottoms are a slightly cheekier model brief then some of the others in the range like the ‘Melissa’ or ‘Emma’ model. This style is my personal preference. It was not too high cut though.
The Island Palm Print looked great. I felt like a babe in this bikini and got so many compliments.
What they could do better
Thicker straps for increased comfort:
I felt the straps should be a little thicker. If you are REALLY going to surf in a bikini, you need to tie it tight and thin straps became painful after a long session across both my shoulders and my rib cage.
A tie in the bikini bottoms would be ideal:
Without the tie, I had to order the bottoms a size too small which was a little tight and uncomfortable. After a week of surfing, the stitching started to break on the hip band, due to the tension/tightness in teh fabric.
The website was hard to view the colour-way options:
Online, you can not view every colour-way for the style bikini you were interested which was a shame. Luckily the palm print ended up looking great.
Overall impression of Sensi Grave Bikinis
I loved surfing in this bikini despite the pee-a-boo by boob played through the hole (just a style issue for a large chested surfer, potentially the Jenna or Oceanea top would have been a better choice).
Sensi Graves and her team of water-based athletes have built a great brand that is truly supporting women in the water and implementing their feedback into the bikinis (just take a look at the variety of sports represented in their team). It is really great how they support women of so many sports.
Other surf bikini reviews to check out:
I would definitely recommend a Sensi Graves Bikini for surfing and I look forward to trying other cross back options as they have really nailed the cut and comfort. The bikini comes in at just under $100 US which is average for a high performance bikini. They accept returns within 30 days if unwashed and unworn.