Monday, January 14, 2013

How do you know when your bra is dead?

If you have shortened your straps to gain support your bra is probably dead.
Today's blog post was suggested by one of my lovely customers who struggles to know when it's time to say goodbye to a bra. Because there are no hard and fast rules about how long a bra lasts it's important to know how to tell when your bra is dead because wearing it for a long time after it has lost its effectiveness can do you more harm than good.

The hook and eye fastening on the back of your bra is the easiest place to start. When you buy a new bra it must fit you comfortably on the first row of hooks. This is because your bra will stretch and over time you need to be able to fasten your bra on the tighter rows to compensate for the elastic losing its tension. If you buy a bra that fits you on the second or third row of hooks then it won't fit for you for as long which means you're throwing away money.

Your bra should fit snugly on the first row of hooks so that you get the most life out of your bra
The first time you fasten your bra on the tightest set of hooks you know you have between 4 and 6 weeks left of regular wear (this depends on how often you wear it and how you wash it). If your bra doesn't show other signs of significant wear and tear (we'll cover those next) then you may be able to have the band shortened by a tailor (or do it yourself if you're good with a needle). When shortening a band it's important to shorten each side equally i.e. if you take an inch out of one side you must take an inch out of the other side. This ensures that your strap tension stays equal on each side.

Depending on how well this job is done (and the integrity of the rest of the bra) you can get a further 2 to 4 months of wear out of the bra. It won't last as long as a new bra with the same band length as the elastic has aged.

This is the lifeblood of your bra. It's the elastic that keeps your band snug against your body (which is the part of your bra supporting most of your bust's weight) and it contributes to the shape of your cups and the support of your straps. Besides giving you support the elastic also makes your bra flexible so that it moves with you as your breathe and bend. As I've talked about before, elastic needs time to shrink back into place after it has been heated up by your body heat. This is the reason you should only wear a bra once every 3 days.

If you see white hairs appearing on the wing and band of your bra if means the elastic in the fabric has broken
No matter how well you take care of your bra the elastic will deteriorate over time and the bra will lose its support. It's worth noting that cheap bras are made with cheap elastics that stretch out quickly. More expensive bras use better grade elastics which are more resistant to heat and moisture so your investment lasts proportionally longer.

As the elastic in your bra stretches it begins to break and you will see this breakage in the fabric of your bra. Little white fronds will appear on the band, wings and straps. This is a sure fire sign that your bra is dead. No repairs or alterations will resuscitate this bra. The elastic that allows for breathing and movement is now dead so it's time to say goodbye.

The Fit
If a bra that once fit you well now seems to dig into your breastbone or poke you under the arms then you should check your fit signs (for example, is the band level at the front and back). The change in fit could be due to a change in your figure, however, it may also be an indication that the bra has died. If after checking the five fit signs you realize the bra is not giving you correct support then it's time for a new bra. If the bra still has the elastic in tact and the fabric isn't too worn then you should consider recycling it by donating to a thrift store.

Clear Damage
If there are holes in your cup or band, if there are hooks missing, wires poking through the material or any tearing on the material then your bra needs to be replaced. 

I hope this helps you figure out which of your bras need to be disposed of or recycled so that you aren't compromising your support and health on a dead bra xx


  1. This is really handy, thanks! I've just been wondering that, since some of my new bras are approaching their one year anniversary. I realised the other day that I actually still wear most of them on the loosest set of hooks!

    1. Glad you found it handy :) You are obviously looking after your bras really well! xx

  2. Thanks for the wonderful article and the helpful advices.

  3. Thank you so much for this... although it does mean that I am going to have to replace seven of my eight bras!

    1. Sorry Michelle! At least you can replace them with bras that work for you :) xx

  4. I was wondering, do different types of bras wear out at different rates? I seem to remember a Bravissimo fitter telling me a few years ago that moulded bras wore out quicker - do you find that? I think it was in reference to a freya deco.

    1. Hi Clare - A 3 part bra won't necessarily last longer than a moulded bra simply because it's a 3 part. However, it's harder to store moulded bras so they can be damaged more easily. Some brands definitely last longer than others. Aside from the quality of the materials in the bra the biggest factor for wear and tear is the way you put on your bra and the way you wash it. Hope that helps xx

  5. I feel so stupid... Every lingerie fitting or shop I have been to has told me that I should have the best fit on the middle hooks.... It all makes sense now.
    What a useful article, thankyou :)

    1. No need to feel stupid Boo! Your bra will spend the majority of its life on the middle hooks but you need to start on the first hooks so that you get your money's worth! xx