Is it time to say goodbye to your bra?

25 Aug 2020 1:50 PM
Annica Svensson

How can you tell if a bra is past it, and does it matter if you’re wearing a bra that’s ‘too old’? Here are 9 signs that you should throw out your bra and why.

How long a bra lasts is an often-asked question. The answer varies. It depends on the quality, how well you look after it, how often you wear it, how big your bust is and how often you change size. Generally, you can expect 1-2 years, although it can last a longer or significantly shorter time. But how do you know when it’s time to say goodbye? Here are 9 signs that it’s time.

It doesn’t fit tightly despite being in the innermost position on the back fastening

Wearing a bra with too big a circumference is more or less the same as not wearing one at all. How a bra fits around your body accounts for 80% of the support it provides. When you buy a bra, it should be fastened in the outermost position of the hook and eye; over time you can then fasten it more tightly as the bra stretches.

The length of the shoulder straps changes automatically

Do you find yourself needing to shorten the shoulder straps several times a day because they persistently lengthen by themselves? If you’re not handy with a needle and thread and able to change the ring and buckle yourself, it’s time to get rid of the garment. The shoulder straps are there for a reason: to help provide your bust with support. The shoulder straps account for about 20% of the bra’s total support.

The bra is discoloured and stained and the elastic is worn out

A bra that was once white but is now discoloured and a dirty beige no longer looks fresh, just as if it has stains that don’t go away in the wash. You wouldn’t go around in a stained or discoloured dress, so why don’t you give the same thought to your underwear? If you feel fresh underneath it shows on the outside. Read our care advice on how to extend the life of your bra here.

The underwire has broken or is coming out of the band

We don’t recommend you remove a broken underwire and wear the bra as a non-wired one. Underwired and non-wired bras are constructed differently, and if you remove the underwire from a bra it won’t give you the same support or lift. One of the most common reasons for an underwire to break is that you wear a size that is too small. If you wash your bra incorrectly the underwire can come out of the end of the wire band. You can read about why underwires break here.

“One of the sure-fire ways of ruining the elastic is tumble-drying your bra.”

The bra band has lost its elasticity

The back of the bra should always maintain its elasticity. If it has become so stretched that the bra fits loosely around your body it will no longer be able to offer enough support to the bust. It’s also a problem if the band has completely lost its elasticity but still fits tightly around the body (for example if you’ve increased in weight). This can cause chafing and leave marks. The bra band must be elastic to be comfortable. One of the sure-fire ways of ruining the elastane fibres that provide the elasticity is to tumble-dry your bra. Always follow the washing advice. If a bra loses its elasticity there’s nothing you can do but throw it away.

The bra leaves marks on the skin

If your bra leaves marks on your skin, you should swap it for another one straight away. A bra shouldn’t be a torture device! You change size and shape more often than you think during your life, even if the dial on the scale still points to the same number. The band around the body should fit firmly, but not so tightly that it cuts in. If the bra is otherwise still fine you can save it in case your weight changes in the future, or use it with a bra extender.

The bra gives you double breasts

There’s a big difference between the wear and tear on a bra if you have an A cup or an H cup. The larger the bust, the more stress is placed on the cups. Women with large busts also have the hardest time finding the right size. The most common is wearing a cup size that is too small so the bust swells out, forming so-called double breasts. Just because a bra fitted well when you bought it, doesn’t mean it does now. We all change size. You don’t always think about whether double breasts are formed when you put on your bra, but if you put on a tight white T-shirt over it, any bunching up between the breasts or over the edges of the bra becomes more clearly visible. If it’s not smooth then it’s time to invest in a bra with a larger cup size. It’s not simply an aesthetic question: the bust needs to have the right support. If your bust swells over the edges of the bra then there’s also a good chance that the sensitive breast tissue is being pinched by the sides of the cups. Here’s how to tell if you’re wearing the wrong size.

It’s the only bra you own and you’ve had it for several years.

This is one of the quickest ways of wearing out your bra. The more bras you own and can switch between, the less wear and tear your garments will experience. You should have 4-5 different bras that you can switch between. If you only own 2 bras that you wear equally often, within one year you’ll have used the same bra 182 times! It’s not surprising that it wears out. You don’t necessarily need to get rid of the bra but make sure that you have several others to switch between. If you’ve only found one model that fits you, buy several of it. Preferably don’t wear the same bra two days in a row as the textile fibres need a chance to recover between uses.

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