Women tend to feel strongly about underwires in a bra – either they love them, or they hate them. Broken underwires are all too common, and if you’re a woman whose underwire bras keep breaking over and over – you’re probably ready to be done with them! Fortunately, though, if you understand why underwires break, you can take steps to prevent it from occurring – and have a long and happy life with your underwire bras!
Why Does My Underwire Break?
When it comes down to it, underwires break for a few common reasons:
- Too much stress on the underwire
- Improper care of the underwire bra
- Use of less durable materials
Check Sizing and Fit
Too much stress on the underwire, or bending the underwire in ways it wasn’t intended to be bent, is one of the most common causes for underwires to break. In most cases, this comes down to incorrect sizing and fit. Many women simply don’t know how a bra is supposed to fit; we get sized once in a retail store, and then go with it forever. Unfortunately, over 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size – and this can have drastic consequences on the longevity of your bra, particularly an underwire bra!
When you’re wearing a bra, most of the support should actually come from the band of the bra – not the cup or the underwire. Many women who wear improperly fitted bras on a daily basis are wearing bras that are too big in the band, and they’re trying to compensate by using an underwire bra or tweaking the fit in other areas. Take a look at our Bra Fit Guide to see whether your bra is fitted properly, and learn how to measure yourself to determine your correct bra size.
In particular, a properly-fitted bra should have a band that is snug, the center gore should lie flat between your breasts, and the underwire should lie directly against your chest. The underwire should curve around your breasts from the center gore to where your breast tissue meets your chest, just under and forward from your armpit. The underwire shouldn’t be resting on the breast tissue directly – it should cup your breast to provide maximum shaping and support. If your underwires don’t fit like that, this is probably why your underwires keep breaking!
You’ve probably heard before (and read on the tags) not to wash your bras in a washer and dryer. This isn’t just to protect the lace or the fabric of the bra – laundering a bra can cause the underwire to weaken and snap prematurely, even if it’s in good shape otherwise. This is particularly true of putting an underwire bra in the dryer, as the heat in the dryer causes a reaction that makes metal brittle and more prone to breaking instead of bending.
If you must put your bras in the washer, use a lingerie bag – it will help prevent the bra from getting twisted or abused. Always use a gentle cycle, and don’t use “hot” water – use a max of warm water, although cold is better.
And never, ever put your underwire bras in the dryer!
The Price of Quality – and the Cost of Affordability
This is a slightly more controversial point, but it warrants mention because sometimes the underwire breaks no matter how well fitted the bra is, and no matter how careful you are when you wash it. Some more affordable underwire bra brands use less expensive materials that simply don’t have the durability and longevity of more expensive, high-quality brands.
For example, all of my bras are properly sized, and I care for them all in the same way – but my department store brand bras always seem to have broken underwires within six months to a year. One bra I bought this spring had a broken underwire in under two weeks! In contrast, though, I’ve got a Conturelle brand bra that I’ve been wearing since 2011 (and I love it!) and the underwires are still going strong. The Conturelle bra was twice as expensive as the store brand bras, but it has lasted a minimum of three times longer – due to the more expensive, more durable materials used in constructing the bra.
Quality does matter when it comes to longevity and durability. If you’d prefer spending $40 every 6 to 12 months on a bra versus $80 or more on a bra that will last a few years, you might not care when the underwire breaks. Maybe it’s harder to justify spending more when you can get two bras for the price of one, or maybe you just don’t like to spend that much in one go on bras, or don’t have the money to spend all at once. Either way, when you choose a more affordable bra, recognize that it might not last as long as something more expensive.