When you truly love a clothing item, spent serious time finding it and dropped hard-earned cash to make it yours, accepting when it’s time to part ways can be tough. This is especially true for bra owners, because finally discovering a bra you truly love is a magical experience.
Women cling onto old bras for years, long after whatever it was that made them special is gone. We know, because we are 100% guilty of the exact same thing. In fact, each woman on our team admits she used to own bras way past their expiration dates and has since learned the comfort and satisfaction of letting go of those I-Bought-These-In-College bras in exchange for bras that are actually lifting her ladies.
We are here to tell you to stop hoarding your misshapen bras from 2010. They don’t serve you anymore, and after six to nine months of regular wear have earned the right to retire.
It’s not all bad news. On the bright side, you’re not alone. We surveyed women and learned that most women have similar habits when it comes to bras:
How many bras do you regularly wear each week?
82% of women regularly wear only 1-2 bras per week
What is your oldest bra in rotation right now?
70% of women said their oldest bra is 2-5 years old
Founder Jane nearly fainted when she heard you’re wearing your bras for 5 years. After we picked her jaw up off the floor, we decided it was time to help you move on to live in lifted, comfortable bliss like us.
Even with the best care, bras lose their shape over time. If you’ve lost track of exactly how long you’ve had a bra, these indicators should help you figure out if it’s time to upgrade to a new one.
The straps are too loose.
Bra straps are made of elastic, in part because our breasts naturally change size and shape over time. The stretchy material helps keep our ta-tas supported and allows the straps to adjust to the changes in our body without digging into our shoulders some days and falling off them on others.
The elastic in our bra straps has been designed to stretch and return to its original size. But elastic can lose its shape after extended use, and it stops being an effective and comfortable way to hold your breasts. This can be especially true if the straps have been subjected to other elements like water or heat, which is why your bras should stay away from the dryer as much as possible.
You’re on the tightest hook and the band is still loose.
The straps aren’t the only part of your bra subject to losing its stretch. We chatted with Kim Caldwell of Hurray Kimmay, an expert bra fitter who has shared her bra expertise with the likes of Tim Gunn, Rachel Rae and Oprah.
“The biggest factor in a poorly fitting bra is the band stretching out and no longer being able to do its job,” Kim says. “The band of your bra is responsible for a lot of the support – almost 90% or so! So if that is stretched out it will ride up, causing the straps to slip and fall, and cups to fall forward, and underwires to fall in and dig.”
Since elastic in both the straps and band seems to account for most of the reasons bras should be replaced, we wondered – what is elastic anyway, and why does it get worn out?
Given founder Jenna’s background in neurobiology, we decided to put our scientist hats on. We learned that elasticity refers to a material’s ability to return the energy applied to it. Basically, is the material able to go back to its starting point once it’s been stretched? Over time, the energy applied – either by the stretching itself or by exposure to other elements like heat – causes the individual polymer chains in the material to break down. So while you can take steps to make your bra last longer, inevitably the elastic will stretch out due to wear and you will need to replace it.
The bra just doesn’t look the same as when you bought it.
Although the bra’s elasticity is usually the first thing to go, you may have been wearing a stretched-out bra so long you don’t even remember what it felt like to begin with. In this case, a good test is simply how the bra looks. Is the fabric pilling? Are the cups misshapen? Is it actually falling apart?
Some of you told us that you have reattached straps with safety pins, or taken in your band yourself once it got too loose. While we’re impressed with your skill, it’s time to let it go. Seriously.
Does your cup runneth over? Or is your cup half-full?
Along with bras losing their shape with time, your breasts also change in shape and size. Weight fluctuations, hormones and having children can affect the size and shape of your breasts, which can also make an older bra suddenly feel uncomfortable and unsupportive. It’s not a bad idea to try different sizes once a year to ensure you’re still buying the right one.
When a bra can no longer fulfill your needs, it’s time to upgrade to one that fits your current shape better. Your size can change based on the brand and style, so don’t be alarmed if the size you thought you were turns out to be a little different. The number doesn’t matter – the way it gives lift, comfort and support does.
It’s possible to make your bras last longer by having more and wearing each less often (duh), but after nine months it’s definitely time to say adios to even your MVP bras.
Out with the old, in with the nude.