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April 5, 2019
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The Art and Science of

When to Replace Your Bras

Old friends should be cherished. Old bras should be replaced.

Even if you have a drawer full of bras, there's a temptation to choose the same favorite bra day after day (or month after month).

It's your favorite because when you first bought it, it fit great, felt great and looked great. But next time it comes out of the wash, take a good look at your bra, both before and after you put it on. Chances are, you won’t like what you see.

Let's examine how to know that it's time to replace your bra and what you can do to make your favorite bras last longer.

Make good choices when you purchase bras

Make Good Choices When You Purchase Bras

It's ironic. Your bras that definitely don't need replacing because they aren't worn out are the ones you never wear. They may be pretty. They may have been expensive. Or you may just have been in a hurry and made a bad choice.

If you aren't choosing to wear a specific bra, it's probably because it doesn't fit well or it’s uncomfortable. So if a bra's been in your drawer for a year or more and still looks brand new, you should probably throw it out just to make more room for bras you do like.

There are lots of tips on how to select a bra you'll love – choose a trustworthy brand, be sure you buy your current size and more – check out our bra guide for fit tips and more.

Rotate your bras

Rotate Your Bras

The most important thing you can do to prolong the life of your favorite bra is rotate it.

If you love a bra and find yourself reaching for it day after day, buy at least two more of the same bra (maybe in multiple colors) while you're still sure of what style you bought and in what size. That's a great reason to buy online. You can probably access your buying history and determine exactly what style and size you bought and when.

When those 3 bras wear out, measure yourself to be sure you are still the same size and then buy 3 more. You'll be amazed at how much longer your bras last when you rotate them. (for one thing, you aren't laundering the same bra as often).

Another form of rotation is choosing different bras for different parts of your life. The bra that's perfect for everyday/all day wear is almost surely not the best choice for the yoga studio or the gym. Buy a sports bra.

Your best-loved bra is also probably not the one you want to sleep in – check out a leisure bra

Your everyday favorite isn't likely to be a strapless bra, but a strapless and convertible bras can be an important part of your wardrobe, especially in spring and summer and for formal dressing. Your favorite may not convert to hide its straps under all the diverse styles of tops in your wardrobe (racerbacks, one shoulder tops, etc.), so get a multiway convertible bra.

You'll also want at least one date night bra in your "rotation."

Signs that your bra needs replacing

Signs That Your Bra Needs Replacing

You should put on a bra, especially your favorite everyday bra, and not touch it or adjust it all day. In fact, you should barely notice you have it on.

It stops feeling good

The back is riding up. Even worse, the front is riding up. You're bouncing more. The straps are sliding down. It's rubbing or chafing or pinching. If you experience even one of these symptoms in a bra you used to love, it's time to lovingly bury it in a nearby trash can.

It stops looking good

What color did that bra used to be? This is particularly yucky with a white bra, but all bras fade over time and washings. Sometimes lace unravels or strings come loose. If you’d be embarrassed for a friend to see it, toss it.

It has obvious structural issues

Please don't keep wearing a bra if the underwire has broken through the fabric. It could break the skin. Our grandmothers might have gotten out their mending kits and repaired a bra themselves, but that's just not in most people's lifestyle today. For any kind of rip or hole, even if it's tiny, throw the bra out.

If one of the clasps on the straps no longer holds, the bra is toast (you'll look uneven under almost any top and that's not a good look). Or toss it if one or more of the hooks and eyes has come loose, flattened out or fallen off (yes, the missing hook will be the row you always use).

It has less obvious structural issues

This has to do with what we usually call elastic but is called spandex or elastine in bras (if you ever see a bra without spandex, don’t buy it – it's a costume not a bra). It's spandex that gives you a comfortable fit, because spandex stretches and contracts every time you move.

When a bra is new, the spandex stretches and contracts really, really well, but as the bra ages and the spandex has stretched and contracted thousands of times, that elasticity runs out and it no longer stretches.

That's when the band of your bra especially (but sometimes the straps or even the cups) stops fitting correctly. Often it also looks bad, wrinkled or unraveling. When the elastic wears out, the bra is past its useful life. Do not continue to wear it.

It stops fitting because your size has changed

Weight gain or loss, pregnancy, exercise and aging can all affect your bra size. We recommend you measure yourself at least annually. For easy directions on measuring yourself at home, see our Bra Fit Guide .

Bra Care

Calculating How Long Your Bra Will Last

That bra you never wear could last 10 years, LOL.

That cheap, no-brand poor-quality bra you bought on a whim may only last a couple weeks before you start having problems. Not all fabrics and elastics are equal in quality, so buy a trusted brand.

If you wear the same bra 5 to 7 days a week, it might only last 3 months, depending on how often you wash it.

How you launder your delicates does makes a difference (see the tips below).

If you love on your favorite bra by rotating it with other bras (wearing it no more than 2 or 3 days a week) and by following most of the steps below, a good quality bra shouldn’t show significant signs of wear for at least 6 months and may still look and feel great after a year or even longer.

Top 10 tips for making bras last longer

Top 10 Tips for Making Your Bras Last Longer

1)Buy a respected, quality bra brand.
2)Buy the size that fits you at the time of purchase (not 5 years earlier).
3)Rotate your bras.
4)Wear bras appropriate for your activities (i.e., don't run marathons in a t-shirt bra).
5) Read the garment label (while the bra is still new enough that you can read them) and follow the washing instructions.
6)Most bras are machine wash and dry, but to prolong the life of your bra, you may want to hand wash it and hang it to dry.
7)If the care instructions say no bleach, don’t use bleach (bleach keeps things bright but can be hard on fabrics, especially spandex.)
8) Consider using a bra saver wash bag. Not only does this protect your bra, it protects the other items in your wash from being snagged by the hooks or tangled in the straps. (Fasten the bra before you wash it to prevent snagging and to help the bra keep its shape).
9)Wash your bra with like colors (this will help with the fading issue).
10)Wash sets together. If you want a pink bra and panty set to keep looking like a set, they need to be laundered at the same frequency.
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