Once you’ve found a bra you love, it’s hard not to wear it all the time, and ultimately, to replace it when the time comes. But especially for your go-to everyday styles, the bra lifecycle may not be as long as some women think.
Let’s break down this lifecycle, look at the warning signs and tips for extending how long before you have to replace your favorites.
Why do Bras Have a Lifetime?
Typically made of fabrics that stretch, including elastic, bras simply get over stretched with daily wear as they work to support your chest. If you have just a few bras in your mainstay rotation, the math works out that you’d wear each over 100 times per year, far more than you’d likely wear most other clothing items, even your favorite pair of jeans (which we all know have the same issue).
What are the warning signs for when it’s time to get rid of a bra?
Most of the heavy (or even not so heavy) lifting in ensuring proper support of breasts goes to the bra band, which is typically the first place you’ll notice begins to lose tightness. Bras can stretch up to 3 inches during their lifetime, hence the rows of hook and eye closures, made to offset this necessary adjustment. The band can also start riding up your back, which causes gaping in the front between your body and the bra cups.
Straps may start slipping off of your shoulders, even when tightened (buckles should never be all the way at the top of your shoulder), and padding can develop creases, crinkles or just generally wear out.
How long should a bra last?
Bra lifecycle depends on a few factors, first and foremost, amount of wear. It may go without saying that the bras you wear the most will wear out quicker, typically between 6-9 months, while styles you reserve for special occasions can likely stay in your closet much longer. A few other factors come into play however, including bra construction/quality, storage and washing, and cup size, even when fluctuating such as during nursing.
Tips for extending the lifetime of a bra
Often an unseen workhorse of one's wardrobe, a properly fitting bra offers both comfort and support. Finding your perfect fit often takes time, and you’ll likely want to maximize the longevity of your favorites.
Wash them Properly
Even t-shirt bras are delicate, and should be treated as such when washing. Though your best option is hand washing, the gentle cycle on your washing machine also works, as long as you put bras in a mesh lingerie bag and don’t load up the machine with anything else. In either case, use cold water to help elastic bounce back, opt for lingerie soap and always hang dry. Even if you’re rotating bras for daily wear, ensure you wash each after no more than three wears as body oils, deodorant and lotion can build up.
Have More to Rotate - Don’t Wear the Same Bra Two Times in a Row
Rather than pulling the same bra out of your drawer (or if we’re being really honest, off the back of that chair you threw it on last night) and putting it back on today, start a rotation system. Whether you buy multiples of your favorite bra in go-to neutrals or a variety of colors, or find a few bra styles that work, aim for at least 3 to get you through a week. Allowing each to rest at least a day between wears helps ensure the elastic has time to tighten back up.
Make Sure your Bra is Properly Sized
Each time you shop for bras, it’s worth taking an extra few minutes to update your measurements as they truly can be affected by a wide range of factors (promise it’s quick and easy, details here - link to article). Start with your band size and be flexible in finding your perfect fit by understanding bra sister sizing (link to article). Cup size varies based on band size so you may find that a smaller band and larger cup fits better than the size you assumed you were. The band is also key as it is the primary part of the bra responsible for support, if yours is riding up or higher on your back than the front underwire, it’s not a good fit.
Invest in Quality Bras
Bras range wildly in materials, construction and price but that’s not to say you need to max out your budget to find a well made option. To ensure a bra doesn’t wear out after just a few washes, focus on the stitching and elastic, both aspects True&Co focuses on in designing bras that maximize longevity. Spending a little more upfront will not only deliver the support you need while wearing the bra but can help to make sure you aren’t back on the hunt for a new option anytime too soon, actually saving you money in the long run.