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When Is It Time For a New Bra?

You finally found the bra that fits just right and looks great and you wish it would last forever. It won't. Although caring for it properly may prolong the life of a bra, at some point it's time to toss it. You may be in denial, but if your bra has any of these "symptoms," it has to go.

  1. The band is loose. A new bra fits snugly on the first hooks. As the elastic wears, you'll be moving to the tightest set of hooks. When your bra doesn't stay put comfortably on the tightest hooks, it's time for a new bra.

  2. The underwires are poking through. You know that can't be right. Toss the bra.

  3. Molded cups have lost their shape. Over time or when stored improperly, those molded cups may start to look floppy, dented or misshapen. They won't improve with age, so it's time for a new bra.

  4. Your breasts are sagging and the bra isn't giving you support. The elastic and fabrics that go into making a bra wear out over time. If your breasts are noticeably drooping more, the bras isn't doing its job any longer.

  5. The bra doesn't lay flat and the elastic is curling. Elastic is meant to regain its shape. If it's no longer doing that, the bra has to go.

  6. The bra looks dinghy, stained or frayed.

These are obvious signs it's time to replace a bra. There's also the hard truth that some bras are just made better than others, using higher-quality materials. For example, bra bands made with Powernet, a firm material that offers support and fabric strength, tend to hold up better. These bras may be more expensive, but they're worth it because they provide a more custom fit and last longer.

Panache Clara bra with multi-part cups and Powernet sides.

Your $30 bra might seem like a bargain, but it may last half as long as a more expensive $60 bra. A bra that has wider elastic may also be more expensive than bras with a narrow band. The elastic is what give the bra support and stability and it's worth investing in a high-quality bra that uses Powernet. It will serve you better and for longer.

Well-constructed bras, with high-quality molding, hardware and better elastic tend to last longer. And, as much as we all love delicate styles with narrow straps and lacy or tulle fabrics, they're best saved for special occasions and not as part of your everyday bra rotation to make them last longer. Speaking of rotation, there are a few things you can do to prolong the life of your bra.

  1. Rotate your bras so that you don't wear the same one two days in a row. Elastic needs a chance to rest to regain its shape and strength.

  2. Launder with care. If you're washing by hand (which is always preferable), use a lingerie wash and cold water, then hang or lay flat to dry. If you're washing in the machine, use a lingerie bag to protect the fabrics and to keep the bra hooks from snagging on other items. Again, lay flat or hang to dry.

  3. Don't wear your regular bra for working out or sports; that's what sports bras are for. Sweat and wear-and-tear on delicate fabrics will shorten the bra's life. Sports bras are made specifically to support you under the most rigorous conditions. A lace little demi bra is not.

In general, the better made and longer lasting the bra, the more expensive it is. Materials like Powernet are costlier than other elastics, and intricately constructed bras, often with 50 separate pieces or more, are more expensive to make. But this is a classic case of "you get what you pay for," so when you're ready to retire those stretched out, worn bras, look for the type of quality that will last. And if you'd like to understand how bras are constructed and why they can be so expensive, watch my video, Why Bras Cost So Much.

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