Personal Style

How Long Do Old Bras Last Before They Kick the Bucket? We Asked an Expert

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Like a gallon of milk, bras expire after awhile. Most give up the ghost around the two-year mark; your everyday go-tos might meet the end of the bra life cycle in just six months! Devastating but true, particularly after you find one you love like whoa. So how do you know when it’s finally time to put a beloved brassiere out to pasture? Our senior buyer, Heather Garcia, has some ideas for how to tell if a bra fits and whether or not it’s time for an upgrade.

Toss that bra if: Your body has been through the wringer.

She’s talking weight loss or gain of more than five pounds, the physical rollercoaster that is pregnancy/childbirth/nursing and, of course, breast surgery. Regardless, brush up on how to measure bra size at least twice a year to make sure you’re getting the right fit. That’s also the perfect time to take a ruthless look at the state of your lingerie drawer.

Toss that bra if: The band is too loose.

A brand-new bra should fit snugly on the very first set of hooks. The longer you own it, the tighter you’ll be fastening it. When you’re at the last, innermost set of hooks and wishing you could go just a liiiiittle tighter, the jig is up. If you’d affectionately call your bra “broken-in,” or “exceedingly comfortable,” it’s probably (forgive the pun) busted.

Toss that bra if: Straps won’t stay put.

Constantly digging around to hike up rogue straps? Then they’re stretched out beyond repair (or the bra’s band was too big to begin with). Shopping tip: Look for convertible bras with straps that don’t have those little O-rings you can’t adjust beyond.

Toss that bra if: It’s visibly falling apart.

Frayed, pilled and stretched-out fabric is an in-your-face sign it’s seen better days and has gotta go. Ditto underwires that are starting to bend, pop out or jab you. (Not cool, underwires, not cool!)

Of course, no one wants to see a world of landfills overflowing with gently-used lingerie. Give old bras a shot at reincarnation—good karma!—by donating them to the Salvation Army or the charity of your choice, or check out The Bra Recyclers (brarecycling.com).

And psst, just between us, you can squeeze some extra life out of your favorites by:

  • rotating them with a bunch of other bras
  • choosing sturdy materials like lace
  • laundering with love (try lingerie wash and a lingerie bag for the washing machine, or wash by hand—really quite quick and painless), and always hanging to dry
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Brooke Glassberg
Brooke is the editor of this here blog. In a previous life, she was an editor at Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. Brooke has written for Glamour, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and more. She’s into concerts, calligraphy, travel and her exceptionally adorable daughter and husband.
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4 Comments

  • Reply Bidhan August 19, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    Hi thereI just wanted to say thank you for denngiisg such a perfect fit (for me anyway!!) bra in the Melody Balconette. I have gone up and down so much after 2 children and losing weight i dont think my body knows what has happened .as well as costing me a fortune along the way! I know have my essential go to’ underwear please keep new colours coming.Thank you

  • Reply Bare it All August 20, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to write! We’re so happy to be able to carry the bra you love best and that makes you feel great!

  • Reply JOAN PYLATE October 25, 2018 at 8:51 am

    I am looking for an older style Vanity Fair Bra. Style Number 76005 in 40c . None of my local stores are stocking this style and *I hope you have access to discontinued styles. I would buy any color white -pink-nude-black whatever in lots of 6. Thanking you in advance
    Joan Pylate

    • Reply Bare it All October 25, 2018 at 11:52 am

      Hi, Joan, thanks for reading! This is a long defunct Vanity Fair style that doesn’t appear to be offered anywhere anymore. We’d recommend two alternate styles: Glamorise style #9075 (Embroidered Wonderwire Bra) or Bali style #180 (Flower Bali Bra). They would be the closest we’ve got. Hopefully you can give one or both a whirl and find something you like just as much! Give us a call if you need more support at 877-728-9272 x4.

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