There’s nothing worse than your favourite bra breaking or wearing out to the point where you can no longer wear it. Well… okay, there are a few things but that is definitely up there! The average life span of a well-fitted bra when looked after properly (hand wash only, air dry, worn in rotation with a selection of other bras so they have time to ‘rest’ between each wear) is really around 6 months. Let’s be real, we don’t all have time to hand wash every bra, and we sometimes do fall back on our old faithful for day to day wear without rotating. And inevitably, there will be a bra that you just cannot bare to part with! We’ve done a bit of digging and found some great hacks and tips to help you fix common bra problems and breakages. Take a look at the list below:
1 - Underwire popped out
The most tragic of bra woes. Your beloved bra has finally had it, the wire’s popped out! Not to worry, it’s actually a fairly easy fix for this one. If the end of the wire is sharp, try wrapping a small piece of duct tape around the top of it. Push the wire gently back into place, and then cover the hole with superglue. Make sure the edges of the fabric are as close together as possible so they bond firmly! Give the superglue a quick file down to smooth it out (a nail file will do the trick) and then you can sew a small strip of fabric over it. Something like felt, velvet or moleskin works a treat and will help keep it comfortable and adds that extra bit of reinforcement over the weak spot. If you’re out and about and feel the dreaded wire poke into you, nip into a shop and pick up a packet of plasters – they’ll keep the wire covered until you get home!
2 – Stretched out straps
Over time, the elastics in a bra will wear out and lose their stretch – especially if you’re machine washing and tumble drying your bras! The high temperatures involved in these processes cause the fibres to break down and basically render the elastic useless after a certain point. If the straps of your bra are fairly simple, you can do a quick adjustment (or take it to a tailor if you’re not confident at sewing). All you need to do is mark where you want the strap to be adjusted to, and then find a point where the strap is sewn onto itself – usually right by one of the rings that attaches it to the bra or just underneath the slider. Unpick the stitching, pull the strap through to the new desired length, trim the excess and stitch it back down – voila! You can use a sewing machine if you have one, or sew it by hand but be sure to stitch enough to keep it secure and stable. If you don’t want to start cutting and sewing, you can try a racer back clip – they won’t permanently alter the length of the bra straps, but it will bring them in to the centre of your back for a more secure fit.
3 – Rips and tears
Just like all other pieces of clothing, bras can develop rips and tears in the fabrics. If the hole is too big or has ruined the structure of the bra, it may well be time to say goodbye… But depending where the tear is and how big it is, you may be able to stitch it back up – especially if it’s along a seam or edge. If you’re not too confident with your darning skills, why not try putting a pretty applique made of lace or a patch over it? You can always match it on the other side so that it looks intentional – and you’ll be the only one with a bra like it!
4 – Bent hooks
If you notice that the hook fastening on your bra clasp has bent out of shape – either too far in that you can’t hook it over the eye, or too far outwards that it just doesn’t hold securely – there’s a super easy fix! Just grab a pair of pliers (needle nosed ones would be best as they’re slim and tapered, making them easy to get into those fiddly bits) and carefully bend the hook back into place. You can also use the same method to re-shape any of the eyes that may have become distorted over time. It may sound like something that doesn’t happen often but really, it does! Every time you put a bra on and take it off, it’s putting pressure on those tiny little hooks. If a hook has completely fallen off then it may well be time to consider replacing old faithful, or looking into fitting new hooks and eyes if you’re not ready to say goodbye just yet.
5 – Stretched out band
Just like with your bra’s straps, excessive heat from machine washing and tumble drying can damage the elastics in the band of your bra too – as well as the fact that regular wear will simply stretch the elastics out over time. This is why we always recommend fitting a bra on the loosest hook to begin with, so that you can tighten it as it stretches out. Sometimes though, your bra still has plenty of life left in it even if the band has stretched out, or maybe you’ve lost some weight recently and don’t want to throw out a bra that still fits well in the cup – so maybe you should take the band in a little bit. It sounds daunting, but if you have a sewing machine it really isn’t that scary. Gently unpick the hook and eye components from either end of the band, and snip off the excess bra band. Sew the hook and eye fastenings back on, and there you go - a simple way to shorten the band of your bra!
6 – Discolouration
Sometimes a bra will become discoloured overtime. This could be due to sweat, deodorant, body lotion, colour transfer from your clothes – anything! Most of the time, all it needs is a good clean. If you’re being good and handwashing your bras, you can deep clean your bras by making up a simple baking soda and water paste to spread over the discoloured area. Leave it to set in and then rinse and wash as usual to reveal your sparkling clean bra!
7 – Folded padding or moulding
Uh oh, the padding in your super smooth finish moulded or foam-lined bra has folded in on itself or fallen out of place. This usually happens when you run a padded or moulded bra through the washing machine a few times (there’s that handwashing thing again…) or don’t let it dry flat. The fix for this may sound a bit drastic, but bear with us. With most bras, you can snip a little slit in the lining on the inside of the cup – not too long, but just enough to wiggle your finger and thumb in there. You should be able to reach in and grab the lining and pull it back into place to smooth it out. Try the bra on to check that it looks okay, and use a simple hand stitch to sew the hole up. Good as new!
8 – Backless and strapless support
What about if the band is stretched out and the straps have lost their elasticity, but the cups are still a perfect fit and in good shape? You can re-purpose the cups and sew them into a dress or top to add some support! This does work better with seamed, foam lined cups as they offer a bit more structure than a non-padded cup would on its own, but it’s a relatively simple thing to do. Pop your bra on, and put on your backless or strapless dress or top. Use some pins to hold the cups in place, and then carefully take the ensemble off together and use a simple hand stitch to secure the cups of the bra to the garment, taking care not to poke through to the front of the item otherwise the stitches will be seen! Once the cups are securely attached, you can chop off the straps and the band and now you can wear that outfit with pride and comfort in knowing that you’re secure and supported!
9 – Snapped straps
If one of the straps on your bra has snapped clean in two, you may not need to think about throwing it away just yet! A quick fix can be a safety pin or tying the loose ends together – not ideal, but they’ll do in a pinch if you’re out and about. The first thing to do would be to try sewing the two ends back together. If there’s any fraying, trim off the excess so you’ve got a clean line on either side and stitch the two ends flush back together. If you have a sewing machine try using a close together zig zag stitch, but you could also do this by hand with a little patience. Just be sure to keep the stitches the same length and go over it a few times to make sure it’s as sturdy as possible!
10 – Loose cups
This is somewhat of a technical one and works best on your non-padded bras, but we thought it was quite handy to include in this list for those who are a dab hand at sewing. If you’ve noticed the cups on your favourite bra have become looser over time, the first step is to try adjusting the straps to see if this helps. If not, then maybe the cup fabric has stretched out a little with wear and washing, or maybe your cups size has just decreased slightly, but either way you need those cups to be smaller! Put the bra on, and make sure everything is sitting as it should – i.e. straps are correct, with the band snug and straight across your back. Pinch along the cup and add pins to hold it in place until you get it sitting as you wish. Once you’ve got the shape right, take the bra off and sew the folded fabric in place and you’re done! Try to work from the outer edge of each cup if you can, in order to hide the new seams. You can always pop along to a seamstress if you’re not confident in doing this yourself.
The best thing though is prevention! Keep your bras in tip top shape by following our Bra Care and Storage guides.
And there we have it, our top 10 fixes for a bra that may otherwise have received a death sentence! Of course sometimes you will just have to say goodbye, and like we already said, the best way to keep your bras looking their best for longer is to give them the proper TLC they deserve. But I hope these tips and tricks have given you a bit of an insight into giving your bras that little bit of extra life! Have you done any of these before, or have you got any other bra fixes that we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.