That’s an interesting question – and one that will have very different answers. Lets play for a moment, and talk about some bra wardrobe options.
Let’s say you subscribe to the “capsule wardrobe” mentality. Fewer – better. A uniform of sorts. Having bras that work with the majority of your outfits is key – so if white t-shirts or blouses are a big part of that, consider spending more of your bra-budget on nude-for-you bras (bearing in mind of course, that beige is not the only answer here). Blue-reds, and some pinks (including those in the mauve range) work well on women who find “beige” doesn’t really describe them. Also: variety is nice. Black turtlenecks or shells more your style – more of your bra budget should go towards items geared towards dark colors. Not necessarily black – but darker would probably get you more milage.
A good goal would be to have 2-3 of your staple, plus one each of the extras (sport, strapless, date night). Let’s say that makes about 6 total.
Like shoes – it’s ideal to give your bras a day off between wears, so having multiple options for your standard uniform look will make dressing easier in the morning. The extra options allow you to be prepared for other situations as they arise – but, if you don’t see yourself baring your shoulders ever, then a strapless isn’t a great investment for you. Similarly – not feeling the whole workout thing? Skip the sports options. This could get you down to 3-4 bras as a minimum – but bear in mind, the ones you wear and wash most often will wear out the fastest.
Let’s say you’re like me – no uniform look. Need to feel prepared for anything. Don’t like beige. Think about what you do wear. For me – it’s almost always a few layers – and I like lace – so that’s what I gravitate towards most. Give me a seamed 3-part cup any day – I’ll be a happy gal – and I find that style suits my body better. Lazy days at home chasing a toddler? I’ve got enough Curvy Sweetie Bralettes from Cosabella to keep me comfortable and happy on non-work days (though, to be honest, sometimes I wear them to work too).
In this case – if I had to whittle down my collection to essentials for a person who doesn’t have a specific clothing esthetic – one nude-for-you, and one dark t-shirt option, and then 2-3 of what makes you the happiest (in this case, lace) and still works within your wardrobe. You could swap that out for a few sport options if your work is really active or if you are an athlete. But the goal should still be to have a minimum of 4 bras to work with.
What this all boils down to is: if you only have one bra, and wear it every day, that comes to 365 wears per year – which is a lot. Let’s assume you have to wash it once/week – so we’ll subtract 52 wears for laundry day. You’re still wearing it more than 300 times – and that’s asking a lot of one bra.
So let’s talk bra math: by having 3 bras, you get down to a little over 100 wears each (assuming there is some laundry in there somewhere – and you’ve got a few lazy days with no bra, or whatever. This will help extend the life of your bras, especially if you hand-wash them. Some experts quote the useful life of stretch fibers (Lycra, Spandex, etc) as roughly nine months – but we feel this is somewhat misleading, because it assumes perfect care and gentle use. Speaking from personal experience – at a time when I had only one good bra, I went from loosest hooks to tightest hooks in less than 6 months – and I exclusively hand-washed it and wore it 4-5 days a week.
Now: there are of course exceptions to all of this. Higher quality bras, when cared for well, often last a bit longer – but it’s important to recognize that elastic only has so much stretch to it, and will eventually just give up. There are certainly times in your life when running super-minimal on the bra wardrobe is warranted: during puberty, pregnancy, weight-loss journeys – we get it. Bras are an expense – and it can add up. During these times, we recommend being fitted more frequently, but perhaps mixing in one item at a time. This way, you can maximize the use out of each item before it no longer serves your body best. Once you’ve moved through that temporary time in life, we can talk about building out the bra wardrobe that will serve you better, for longer.
All of these reasons are why we ask so many questions during your fitting: we want to make sure you get the most bang for your bra bucks. If you have questions for us – feel free to ask! We’re here to be your bra resource.