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how long do bras last

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — bras are an investment. So naturally, you’re eager to get as much wear as possible out of your favorite undergarments. Still, at some point, you’ve likely donned a bra and wondered whether it’s past its prime. And unfortunately, there’s no distinct expiration date on the tag that tells you when it’s time to toss it.

So, how long should your bras last? In this guide, we’ll cover all the facts you need to know to answer this all-too-common question.

General guidelines

The lifespan of a bra depends (you don’t think the answer would be simple, did you?) on multiple factors. Still, as a general rule, a bra should last you somewhere between six and 12 months. Your everyday styles, like that go-to T-shirt bra, will likely be worse for wear after six to seven months, while that special occasion plunge bra could very well last you a full year or longer. Note that sports bras tend to have a shorter lifespan. This is because you’re washing them more often since you’re sweating more while wearing them, and moreover, consistently vigorous physical activity can impact the level of support it offers much faster.

On the fence about whether a bra has expired? Some tell-tale signs to look for include: a band that’s too loose on the tightest hook; missing hooks; stretched out straps; underwire that pokes out; misshapen cups; and frayed, torn, pilled, or stained fabric.

Related: 6 Laundry Tips That Will Make Your Bras Last Longer

Key considerations

There are a number of factors that can affect the lifespan of your bra:

1.  Rotate your bras

For one, your bra will obviously last longer if it’s worn less often. That’s why we strongly advise having a solid collection of bras with enough styles to rotate throughout the week.

Wearing a bra two days in a row is particularly problematic, as you aren’t allowing the elastic in the band, straps, etc. to snap back to its original form, so it may start to stretch out instead.

Your level of activity will also impact how long your bra lasts — if you’re on your feet all day for work or engaging in a high intensity workout, it’s likely to wear out more quickly than if you’re seated at an office desk or taking a low-intensity yoga class.

2.  Buy the best quality you can afford

Quality also comes into play. High-quality bras that are made with sturdy fabrics and other materials, as well as more careful consideration in regards to construction and design, are made to last.

3.  Take good care of your bras

And last but certainly not least, care is a critical factor in terms of the longevity of your bras.

Washing your bras in a machine with no lingerie bag, tossing them into a dryer or using harsh detergent can wreak havoc on your beloved underthings. As such, we recommend hand washing your bras with specialized lingerie soap, and laying them flat or hanging them by the center gore to dry. (If you’re machine washing them, be sure to fasten all the hooks, put them in a lingerie bag, and wash them on a delicate cycle with cool or cold water). Even wringing out your bras or hanging them by the straps (which can stretch out the straps) may shorten their lifespan. Whatever you do, don’t use bleach — which is far too harsh on delicate bra fabrics and can be ultra-damaging to elastic.

Speaking of washing — while it’s crucial to remove the sweat and dirt that builds up with wear, you don’t want to overwash them. Every 3-5 wears should be sufficient for most bras (with sports bras being an obvious exception) unless you’re wearing them on a particularly sweltering summer day or wearing the same bra everyday (which we don’t recommend).

4.  Re-assess your lingerie wardrobe every six months

There comes a point in every bra’s life at which you have to say goodbye and armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to much better gauge on when that’s necessary. Consider doing a check on your collection every few months to assess whether any of them need to be replaced. And if they’re still in good condition (or your bra size changed and you never wore them) consider donating them to one of the organizations here.

Remember: You deserve to wear well-fitting bras that lend maximum comfort, support, lift, and definition — so don’t settle for anything less!

Related: Bra Care 101: How To Wash Bras

how to take care of your bras

Parfait Matilda Contour Plunge Bra P5311 in Bisque | Parfait Charlotte Bikini 6905 in Bronze

We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

Featured image lingerie:
 Parfait Enora Minimizer Bra P5272 in European Nude
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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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