How Often Should You Buy New Bras? Everything You Need to Know About Replacing Your Top Drawer

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When is the last time you bought a new bra? Or, better yet, when is the last time you replaced an old bra? A year ago? Two years ago? Literally never? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. A quick poll of friends and PureWow editors found most replace their bras only once they’ve started developing visible signs of wear and tear. We’ll readily admit that we should probably be refreshing that top drawer before we find ourselves being stabbed by an underwire, but realistically how often should you buy new bras? This is the exact question we posed to four lingerie experts. Read on for their advice, plus tips on how to extend the life of your favorites bras.

Meet the Experts

  • Miryha Fantegrossi is the Head of Design at Wacoal. She has more than 20 years of experience designing lingerie and undergarments, and is always looking for innovations to improve fit and function for all sizes.
  • Yesenia Torres is the VP of Design and Creative Director at CUUP. With a background in both lingerie and plus-size ready-to-wear, she is keenly aware of the importance of finding an impeccable fit.
  • Andrea Jagaric is the Chief Design Officer for Aerie, OFFLINE and Unsubscribed. She’s worked on Aerie’s design team for nearly 12 years, establishing the brand as the go-to for shoppers of all ages.
  • Nicole Cuervo is the founder and CEO of Springrose, the adaptive bra made for those with limited mobility. She founded the company in 2020, and was inspired by her grandmother Rose, who had chronic pain and arthritis.

The 19 Best Bras for Big Boobs, According to the Experts

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So, How Often Should We Be Replacing Our Everyday Bras?

Short answer: Roughly every six to eight months—however, there are a lot of factors to consider when determining if it’s time to give your old faithful brassiere the heave ho.

As Cuervo notes, “It will depend on a variety of factors including how frequently you use the same bra, whether it’s a good quality product, how you wash it, your chest size, the fabric, etc.” Fantegrossi likes to use the 100/100 rule to calculate when it’s time for a bra refresh. “Your bra should last for 100 wears and 100 washes,” she explains. “If you wear and wash the same bra every day, it will last you about three months.” But if you’re rotating between a few different bras, that lifetime can be extended up to a year, perhaps even a little longer.

Unfortunately, those with larger breasts may find they have to replace their bras at a faster rate—all that (literally) heavy lifting puts more of a strain on the materials and structure—but investing in a high-quality bra at the outset can ensure a longer lifespan. “If you have a favorite bra, consider getting one or two backups so you’re not consistently wearing the same one,” suggests Jagaric. Rotating through three identical bras will mean replacing them less often.

What Are Some Signs It’s Time to Replace/Retire Your Bra?

In general, our experts note, you’ll know it’s time to replace your bra once you stop feeling supported. But there are also a number of signs to look out for if you’re not quite sure.

  • The band and straps are too loose. When you buy a new bra, the band should feel snug when clipped on the loosest hook-and-eye row so that when the material begins to stretch, you can progressively tighten it by moving to the following row of hooks. “If your bra has a hook and eye in the back and you’re on the tightest hook, that signals that you may be getting close to the end of the line,” says Cuervo. “Once you’re there and the bra stretches out a bit more, your bra will no longer be supportive enough and it’s time to change.” The same applies for the shoulder straps and even the cups, notes Torres. “If the straps have loosened and are sliding off your shoulders, even when tightened, or the cups have become either too tight or too loose, it’s time to replace your bra.”
  • You no longer feel lifted or supported. “For optimal comfort, your bra should be supporting and lifting your breast tissue,” explains Fontegrossi. “You can tell if you are getting support by looking at your profile in the mirror, the fullest point of your breast should be at the midpoint between your elbow and shoulder.” If your bra is no longer supporting your breast tissue, you might as well not even be wearing one.
  • There are visible signs of wear. A prime example: the underwire of your bra is poking you or poking through the fabric. “This one may seem obvious,” says Cuervo, “but there are many women who put up with this discomfort because they’re used to wired bras being inherently uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable, it’s time to try a new product.” Other signs may be gapping or curling on the cups, fraying along the straps or band, loose threads or if the lining is wearing down.
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Do Some Materials Last Longer Than Others?

As with most things, the better-quality bra you invest in at the start, the longer it will last. All four experts agree that quality is perhaps more important than looking for specific fabrics, but there are some general notes when it comes to materials for you to keep in mind. “Synthetic fibers (e.g., nylon, polyester) are generally longer lasting than natural fibers (e.g., cotton, silk) because their care requirements are less intense,” Cuervo explains. Indeed, some synthetics have been specifically created to prioritize durability. However, Torres and Fantegrossi both point out that lighter-weight materials, by virtue of their structure, can break down faster. “Think soft, stretch mesh or microfibers,” says Fantegrossi.

What Are the Best Ways to Help Extend the Life of Our Bras?

Regardless of what material you choose, there are multiple ways in which you can help prolong the life of your favorite bra so you don’t find yourself in need of a top drawer refresh every three months.

  • Wash them with care. “The less you wash your bras, the longer they will keep their shape,” says Jagaric, who suggests rotating between a handful of bras to extend the time between laundry days. According to Fantegrossi, “The best way to wash your bra is to hand wash it and lay it flat to dry. If you choose to use a washing machine, place your bras in a lingerie wash bag to protect them. Select cool or warm water and mild soap. Do not wring or twist bras to remove excess water.
  • Avoid the dryer. All four of our experts wholeheartedly agreed that tossing your bras in the dryer should be avoided at all costs. “Lay your bras flat or hang them on a line to dry,” advises Fantegrossi. And if you do hang your bras, hang them by the shoulder straps—the straps can be more easily adjusted as they stretch out, whereas the bottom band likely only has three or four hooks. “Bras should never be put in a dryer because the heat will be harmful to the fabric and trims,” Cuervo explains. (This is the same reason fabric experts recommend keeping your leggings and wool sweaters out of the dry too.)
  • Store them properly. Jagaric advises storing your bras standing up in a drawer with the cups stacked inside one another to help your bras hold their shape. “Never fold them or ball them up,” she advises.
  • Cycle through two to four bras at once. “Bras stretch out when you wear them, so cycling between a few will allow the fabric to return to its original shape before being stretched again,” explains Cuervo. Buy your favorite bra in multiples so you can rotate through them without sacrificing comfort.

Feeling like it might be time for a refresh? Here are a few of our favorite new bras to shop to get the support your gals deserve.

How to Determine Your Bra Size: A 4-Step Guide to Finding Your Perfect Fit

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Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...

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