I just bought a bra for the first time in six years (yikes, I know). Now that I have the comparison of a new bra I can see (and feel) the abysmal state that my old bras are in. This got me thinking, how long does a bra last, for real?
Whether you stick to the traditional underwire or swear by your favorite triangle bralette or other bra alternatives, all boobie holders have an expiration date. Even the most durable bras from sustainable underwear brands eventually hit the undergarment graveyard. But what’s the exact timeline?
Well, there isn’t a definitive one. The lifespan of your bra depends on a lot of factors, all of which we will get to in just a second. Read on for all the tips you need to be able to identify when it’s time to say bye-bye bra.
HOW LONG DO BRAS LAST?
How long does a bra last, really? Well, a general consensus is 6-9 months. Wild, I know. I bet there are very few of us here who switch out our bras every six months. Bras are expensive and annoying to shop for so the 6-9 month time frame seems a bit ridiculous.
The truth is that most bras will continue to function after the suggested time, they just might not be in peak condition. A bra’s ability to support your breasts weakens over time and you may start to feel that through pain or discomfort after a whole day of wearing it.
Since not all bras are made the same and a general lifespan is hard to determine, here are the major factors that affect how long a bra will remain functional:
HOW OFTEN DO YOU WEAR YOUR BRA?
If you wear the same bra every day or several times a week, it’s more likely to deteriorate quickly. If you only own 2-3 bras and wear them on constant rotation then each of those bras is getting a significant amount of wear per year.
Have you ever stopped to think, how many bras should I own? The general answer is 7. This number allows for enough variety that you only have to wear each of your bras once a week therefore lessening the strain you put on them.
WHAT MATERIAL IS THE BRA MADE OF?
Bras are expensive, I know. But think about this. When you buy a cheap bra, you get what you pay for—weak, synthetic materials just don’t last as long. A bra made of natural fabric, like hemp, will set you back a few more bucks but it makes more sense in the long run. The longer your bra lasts, the less often you have to buy new ones. Cha-ching!
HOW ACTIVE ARE YOU?
I’m sure we’ve all experienced boob sweat on occasion. Humid days and boobs are a combination from actual hell. Your bra should be able to withstand the occasional moist day, but if you are constantly using a bra for physical activities, the build-up of sweat will start to deteriorate your bra.
HOW BIG ARE YOUR BREASTS?
Wait, that matters? Unfortunately, the answer to “how long do bras last?” will change if you’ve got large breasts. Extra mass means more strain on the boulder holder which causes the material of the bra to wear out and stretch more quickly. Add that to the endless list of big titty struggles!
HOW DO YOU WASH YOUR BRA?
I’m all about low effort and efficiency so, of course, I used to toss my bras in with the rest of my laundry. Bad move. A delicate bra is no match for a hot spin cycle and harsh detergents so the lazy laundry method is sure to kill your bras much quicker than if you wash them separately.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU REPLACE YOUR BRA?
Now that we know the factors that contribute to a bra’s slow demise, let’s discuss the act of replacing our old bras. How often should you replace your bra? That really depends on when you need to.
That’s a lazy answer, I know, but look at it this way. The best time to buy a new bra is when you’re getting rid of an old one so that you can maintain a well rounded number of bras. So in order to determine when to replace a bra, you first need to know when to get rid of one.
WHEN TO SAY "BYE, BRA!"
Here’s a list of questions to ask when trying to determine if your bra is ready for the textile afterlife:
Does it have holes, stains, etc? Yeah, we’re all guilty of keeping undergarments that should have hit a textile recycling center a few moons ago. No shame, but it is time to get rid of them. Not only is a deteriorating bra uncomfortable, but spots and stains can also cause a build-up of bacteria, especially if the fabric of your bra is not antibacterial.
Has the elastic weakened? A loose bra is a useless bra. If the band of your bra is saggy or the fit of the cups has gotten weird, it’s time for that bra to go. Your breasts should rest comfortably in one position, so if you feel a lot of wiggle action occurring, that’s a huge sign that your bra is ready to go.
Has your body changed? Body changes are totally natural and occur to all of us, even without any intentional lifestyle changes. Breasts are all susceptible to any hormonal shifts or disruptions so they can change according to those. If you notice that your bras are fitting a little funny (but they still have life left in them), it might be time to look for a new size that fits your body better.
Have your tastes changed? Just as your body can change, so can your mind. I still have a couple of balconette bras left from a time in my life when that was my ideal shape. Now, every time I try to wear one of those (when everything else is dirty) I feel like a glass of water dangerously close to overflowing. Needless to say, that’s no longer a mood. If you have bras that are still in good condition, but you simply no longer like them, there are many places you can donate them to! Then you can swap out your old bras for some bralettes because (hint hint) those last longer than underwire bras.
HOW LONG DO BRALETTES LAST?
First of all, what is a bralette? For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, a bralette is simply an unlined, wireless bra with minimal support. They can come in a variety of styles, from a practical racerback bralette to options with more lace and frill.
Many women prefer bralettes over traditional underwire bras because they’re less restrictive while still offering some support. Yes, bralettes are perfect for those of us with smaller titties but rest assured my big chested girlies, there are plenty bralette for large bust options out there as well.
Besides the obvious comfort factor, bralettes will last you a tad bit longer than a traditional bra. This is because they’ve got no shape to lose! Of course, the band and straps of a bralette will still loosen and stretch over time so even this style of bra won’t last forever. However, since a bralette has low support to begin with, a little bit of stretch won’t make a huge difference!
The general guideline for “how long does a bra last” still applies to bralettes. But 6-9 months is a pretty extreme judgment for a bralette. So long as you’re not wearing the same bralette more than twice a week, it should last you a couple of years, at least.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR BRA LAST LONGER?
The condition and lifespan of an item of clothing largely depends on how you care for said item. The same goes for bras. Bras get a lot of regular use so figuring out ways of using them less often and cleaning/storing them properly will result in your bras lasting longer. Follow these tips:
OPT FOR NATURAL FABRICS
Natural fabric, like hemp, is always the best choice for undergarments. It’s breathable, antibacterial, and great for the planet. The magic plant also has properties that (in an altered state) make hemp stronger than steel. Sticking with the most durable natural fabric is an easy way to set yourself up with a bra that will last you well beyond 9 months!
ROTATE YOUR BRAS
Owning one good bra and a few meh ones is pretty much the way I roll. Let me tell you now, that’s quite inefficient and if you are the same, we both need to stop! Owning at least 7 good, supportive bras is the way to do it. You can wear each of your bras on rotation without being tempted to wear one several times a week simply because it offers more support. Not wearing a single bra more than twice a week is an easy way to ensure it will serve you longer.
LET YOUR BRA REST
This goes hand in hand with the previous one. But, hey, bras are quite a hard-working article of clothing. Without them, many of us would be quite vulnerable and in constant discomfort or pain. Be kind to your bras. Don’t be the girl who wears the same bra every day. Give each of your bras at least four or five days to rest between wears.
DON'T MACHINE WASH YOUR BRA
Machine washing your bras is an unnecessary evil. Bras are more delicate than your other clothes so they deserve a bit of special treatment. Learning how to hand wash bras is a quick skill to gain and a great one to have. Treating your bras gently by hand washing and line drying is an easy way to prevent their fabric from weakening or fraying.
STORE YOUR BRAS PROPERLY
Underwire bras require extra care when it comes to storing them because they can easily lose their shape when thrown haphazardly into your underwear drawer. Don’t fold your bras by tucking one cup into the other. Instead, clear up space in your drawer so that you can lay your bras out flat and stack them gently.
A different solution to the previous struggle is wearing something that is shapeless in the first place. Bralettes are not structured like underwire bras so they are much easier to store and travel with. They also last a bit longer because they don’t have the shape to lose in the first place.
FIND BRAS THAT FIT
A good fit not only ensures that your bra is comfortable enough for you to wear for long periods of time, but also prolongs the bra’s lifespan. How should a bra fit? Well, the general rules are that it should be snug but not too tight when closed on the loosest clasp so that you can adjust it as it stretches. Starting out with the right fit gives you the optimal amount of support and puts less strain on the bra.
BENEFITS OF A GOOD FITTING BRA
There’s a myth floating around the internet about the danger of bras and that they can contribute to causing breast cancer. This is totally not true. In fact, a bra that fits your body well can only be beneficial to you.
Wearing a bra with any kind of fit issues (the band is too tight, the cups are too small,etc) can cause back pain and even breast pain. A good bra helps prevent those issues and provides these benefits:
- Back Support: If you’ve got bigger breasts, you know that as much of a joy as going braless is, it can be a real pain after a while (literally). A good bra holds the weight of your breasts in a way that takes the weight off your back. A supportive bra is especially important for any physical activity.
- Boob Health: Breasts are fragile. Breast tissue can stretch over time from weight and gravitational pull. Keeping your breasts in a supportive bra for (at least) some of the day will help protect your mammary glands.
- Shaping: Related to the previous benefit, wearing a bra will keep your breast shape from becoming saggy over time. It also has the immediate effect of shaping. There are many different bra styles out there that will give you the desired shape that will make your boobies pop in any outfit.
CONCLUSION: HOW LONG SHOULD A BRA LAST
So, how long does a bra last? That mostly depends on you and how you treat it! And now you should have all the guidance you need to ensure you are prolonging the lives of your bras instead of running through them.
How often do you personally replace your bras? And who else is part of the ancient bra gang? Come on, admit it, because we all have that one bra we’ve been holding on to a smidge too long. Share your thoughts in the comments!