At Who What Wear UK, we firmly believe that good underwear is the crux of every great outfit, and no lingerie piece is more important to get right than bras. I myself have a 32G bust, and from personal experience, I know that if I don't feel confident and supported by my bra, I won't feel confident in whatever I layer over it.
However, I have endless questions. When should I replace my bras? How should I wash them? And how do I stop them from losing their shape? In an attempt to maximise the life span of my bras, I turned to my friends at Marks & Spencer HQ for advice. Buying M&S underwear is practically a Brit-girl rite of passage, so if anyone knows what they're talking about, it's them.
"A bra is at its best in its first year of being worn, and if taken care of properly, should be supportive until the last wear," reveals Julia Mercer, Marks & Spencer's bra-fit expert and technical manager. So that clears up the ambiguity of when you should replace them. But how do you keep your bras in peak condition? Turns out that it's really quite simple…
Check the care label: "You might not think it, but many bras are dry-clean only, which means they'll likely spend more time in your laundry basket being bent out of shape than actually being worn," Mercer explains. "All of Marks & Spencer's bras are machine washable (even silky styles), so you're more likely to wash them regularly which, in turn, keeps them fresh."
Get the temperature right: "While we're all trying to be more cautious when it comes to the temperature we wash our clothes in, you really ought to be washing your bras at 40 degrees. This is essential for ensuring they're hygienically clean," says Mercer.
Be sure to fasten: "I always recommend fastening your bras before washing," reveals Mercer. "It helps avoid any pulling and snagging on the hooks and eyes or any damage to the product or fabric."
Take time to reshape: "Once washed, instead of throwing them in the tumble drier, allow them to air-dry. Also, if they're padded, take a moment to reshape the bra with your hands while damp to help maintain its desired silhouette," says Mercer.
Storage is key: "Store your bras carefully in your lingerie drawer to avoid any underwire damage. I always advise sitting the cups inside one another, and lining them up," suggests Mercer. "This stops them from getting squashed in your drawer and helps them retain their shape for longer. It also makes it much easier to find the specific bra you want to wear each morning!"
Anything that grants us extra seconds in bed is okay by us, that's for sure. So now that you know exactly how to care for and when to replace your bras, let's take a moment to appreciate just how pretty these bras are…