Is Your Bra "Dead?" Here's How to Tell for Sure

Ladies, I stand with you, not against you, when I say our bra drawers can be a frightening place. What we would hope to see inside this negligée compartment would be bras perfectly aligned in pristine condition, organized by style, shade, and purpose. What we really see is random removable straps all over the place, bras we've had since college, and other scary sights whose details should probably spare you. Cleaning out this drawer that we use nearly every day should be something we do on a regular basis, but for whatever reason, we hardly do at all. Why is that? Is it because we have a strange attachment to our undergarments? Probably not. Is it because we love clutter and being self-destructive? Maybe. Or is it because we simply don't really know when the appropriate time to toss a bra is? Yeah, I think it's the latter.

If there were ever a time to reach out to an expert on a subject, it's now, which is why we tapped Ra'el Cohen, vice president of design and creative of ThirdLove, for her insight on how exactly to tell when it's time to throw your bras away. Because when a bra is dead, it's serving zero purpose, and the last time I checked, bras served a pretty important purpose, no?

To get us started on the quest for a better bra drawer, Ra'el told us this: "To extend the lifetime of every bra that you buy, I suggest rotating between at least three bras in your wardrobe to give each bra a break every so often. I recommend buying new bras every six to nine months, depending on how many bras you’re rotating between." But even when you religiously take that advice, your bras will naturally experience a wear and tear, and below, Ra'el gives us the five clear signs that your bra has passed on. Ready to find out which of your bras are dead and gone according to this ThirdLove expert's test? 

1. Your cup and band edges are frayed and torn.

"The first thing I look for in a worn-out bra is fraying, either on the bra cups or band. When fabric begins to fray around the edges, it means your bra has done its job. Give it a rest and replace it before your wires begin popping out—or before your bra falls apart even more."

2. Wires are popping out.

"Speaking of wires popping out, if this is happening to you, you need to toss that bra and do a little wardrobe refresh. Not only is it incredibly uncomfortable to have wires popping out, but it's also a sign that the fabric is too worn to support you anymore. If the fabric and wires can't do their job, your bra won't keep you comfortable and supported, and it's time to let go."

3. Your straps are falling.

"While straps falling down when you try on a bra for the first time could be a sign of an ill-fitting bra, if it's happening after months or years of use, it means your bra straps have lost their elasticity. Elastic is a great material that's meant to bounce back, but it can only do its job for so long before it can't take it any longer."

4. You’re wearing your band on the tightest hook.

"Bras should be worn on the loosest hook so that over time, as your band loses its elasticity, you can tighten it by choosing a tighter hook. However, if you've been wearing your band on the tightest hook for a while now, it means all of the elasticity is gone and your band is no longer supporting you as it should."

5. Your hooks have been ripped out.

"If your hooks have been torn out through trips through the washer or dryer (or just from general wear and tear), it's time to say goodbye. If you can't properly strap your bra on the hooks it was designed with, your band won't sit as tightly as it should or provide balanced support."

Shop bras we love:

You know what this means? When it comes to navigating the scary waters of your bra drawer, there are no more excuses. If one of your bras shows one of the five signs above, it's time to put it to rest and invest in a new one. Happy cleaning! 

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