How Much Should You Spend On A Bra?

by Teresa Newsome

I'll admit it. Before writing this article, I had no idea how much a good bra should cost. For much of my adult life, I was a connoisseur of the $15-or-less clearance bras or those $6 thin cotton sports bras with the elastic on the bottom. You know — the ones that create the flattering, sweaty unibreast. As a person on a tight budget, if I had an extra $100 to spend on clothes, I certainly wasn't going to blow it on a $50 to $75 bra. Hellz naw. But as I (very) slowly slip into a more comfortable adulthood and start to experience the effects of a changing budget and a changing body (read: gravity), I find myself contemplating how much is too much to spend on the girls.

The Internet is of little help. Bra shopping to get a ballpark figure for what bras cost resulted in anything from $20 to $300 bras. There are even gems like Brittney’s $20k sports bra or the million dollar Victoria’s Secret diamond bra. Interesting. But not illuminating.

So what are you willing to pay for an average bra? What about a really good bra? If you don’t really know what a bra should cost, you’re not alone. Let my research guide you and the girls into your budget sweet spot, if, for no other reason, to help you justify a little self-care bra shopping spree this weekend.

1. Use the Shoe Analogy

Jezebel® Women‘s Intrigue Seamless Double Push-Up Bra, $29 - $34, Target

In an interview with Ellen Lewis, founder of Lingerie Briefs, Elisabeth Dale got some sage bra-buying advice: Shop for bras as you would for shoes. Shoes and bras are similar in that you have different items for different occasions, purposes and outfits. That means just like it's okay to round out your shoe collection with those really expensive boots you love and plan to die in, it's also okay to have a couple really well made, really comfortable, really sexy, really perfect bras. Since you'll probably wear those less often, they'll likely last for years and prove to be a better investment than cheap throw-away bras that last a few months. A well-made bra should net you at least 100 wears, according to Carrie Hauser, professional bra fitter for Nordstrom. Cheap bras likely won't last as long. And while we're on the subject of cheap bras, it's okay to have some of those, too. Just like your shoe collection, it takes all kinds to round out a wardrobe.

2. Consider The Bra Type

Nike Pro Rival, $65, Nike

You also need to consider what type of bra you're buying. Sports bras need to do more work than day-to-day bras, and you'll likely need fewer of them (unless you're a athlete), so you can justify the extra investment in a really good, supportive, well-made sports bra. In this case, get what you can afford. If that means a $30 bra, you'll get more wear and support than those $6 sports bras.This Nike sports bra rated as "high support" run about $65.

High Impact - Colorblocked-Hem Sports Bra, $13, Forever 21

This sports bra from Forever 21 is also rated for high impact and is made from nylon and spandex like the Nike bra. It costs around $13. If this bra works for you and offers you the support you need, then there's no reason why you couldn't make it your go-to workout piece. There are no reviews on the site, so it's a matter of trial and error and finding out what type of support and coverage you need to feel comfortable.

Perfect Shape Bra, $39 - $42, Victorias Secret

That's not to say that you should cheap out on your everyday bras. These are the workhorses of your wardrobe and need to be supportive and comfortable. Victoria's Secret has a bra they refer to as a day-to-day go-to bra for around $40. According to Hauser, you should have at least seven, or one go-to bra for each day of the week. You don't need to wash your bra after each wear, but Hauser says you should never wear the same bra two days in a row so the material can relax and retain its shape.

True Embrace T-Shirt Bra, $42 - $56, Lane Bryant

Lane Bryant's workhorse bra for plus sized women runs slightly higher in price for a similar product.

3. Do The Math

Lucy Bra Black 5851 by Cleo, $57, Butterfly Collection

According to The Butterfly Collection, "You NEED 3-4 everyday bras to get you through a year plus 1-2 sports bras if you are active. That's a basic wardrobe which costs between $200 and $300 per year (around $20-25 a month.)" This is different from Hauser's advice of 7 everyday bras, which goes to show there's no one-size-fits-all advice for bra buying. Still, if you were previously buying a $15 discount store bra each month, that's 12 bras for just shy of $200, depending on your tax rate. For that same money, you could have fewer bras of higher quality and still have the number of bras that the bra experts recommend. It seems like the math favors the switch to better bras.

4. Go With What Works For You

Bra-llelujah! Soft Touch Underwire Contour, $68, Spanx

Lindsay Ferrier of The Stir splurged on a $65 Spanx Bra-llelujah bra and it changed her life. According on her article entitled "How Much Would You Pay For A Really Good Bra" she has tried many, many bras before and never had a clear favorite. She's now a convert to pricier bras. You may find this becomes your mantra after a a splurge. You may also find that the cheap bras fit well and give you all you need. If that's what works for you, then, by all means, do you. The bottom line is that while many women are now paying anywhere from $30 to $300 per bra (usually around $50) the bra you purchase is the one that makes you and your budget happy.

Images: Courtesy Brands