When You Should Retire A Bra According To Bra Fitters

Buh-bye worn out bras

Bra Fitters Reveal When To Retire A Bra

by Lucy Morris |
Updated on

Bras, like some knickers and more socks than we’d like to admit, have this mysterious ability to lurk in your life long after there sell-by date. These misshapen garments make themselves known the minute you put them on by their greying, sagging sadness. They’ve been through the wash one too many times and like a bad boyfriend they don’t support you, instead, they insist on lolling. They feel like holding hands with someone who doesn’t have the strength or willpower to really clasp you. Yes, it’s still comforting but no it’s not the same.

I, for one have bras that no longer fit me, that are no longer the colour I bought them and are certainly not fit for purpose. Figleaves Garment technologist Victoria Shelton explains: ‘Most bras contain elastane that stretches over time, this is why it is recommended to have a few bras on the go rather than wearing one bra for three days in a row. Giving the bra a rest over time will give the elastane and stretch fabrics a chance to revert back to their natural shape.’

We hold onto our old lingerie for several reasons, but fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen believes we do this because of nostalgia. 'I have a theory that that I have coined called focal accessories, which [refers to] an item that holds psychological value of the past, present and future', she explains, 'it reminds of us of a date in the past, of a feeling'. Mind Fashion's Caroline Zaidan adds that it can be as simple as, 'due to a lack of caring about its appearance as it's under our clothes'. And, it's that which we struggle to throw-away, not the item itself.

‘Washing helps to revert the fabrics back to their natural shape', says Shelton, 'but over washing can cause the opposite effect,’ reveals Shelton. There’s no winning here. However, when it comes to cleaning your brassier, Julia Mercer, Marks & Spencer’s Bra Fit Expert and Technical Manager, said you should, ‘always fasten your bras before washing as it helps avoid any pulling and snagging on the hooks and eyes…The best temperature for washing is 40 degrees in order for this to be hygienically clean.’ Shelton adds that delicates require milder detergents, so be aware what you’re washing your undies in may be prematurely ageing them.

Rather than dumping it straight in the tumble dryer, which can give the cups that dreaded cracked appearance, ‘reshape padded bras in your hands when damp will help to keep its shape.’

So your bra’s dry you just plonk it in a drawer, right? Wrong. ‘When caring and storing for moulded or padded bras, it is best to store them stacked behind each other rather than folding and damaging the cups’, says Shelton. M&S’ Mercer agrees, ‘this stops them from getting squashed in your drawer and helps then retain their shape for longer.’

But say you’ve cleaned it, dried it and stored it right, sadly that’s not enough to ensure the longevity of an item that’s so sole purpose on earth is to keep a body part suspended higher than gravity intends it to be. ‘For regular wear and washing a bra can last six months or more depending on great wash care and storage,’ confides Shelton. There you have it, you’ve got a mere half a year if you’re lucky.

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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