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What to Look for in a Quality Bra, and What to Avoid

  |   By Estelle Puleston

Most of us want to buy the best quality bra that we can afford. We want ones that are comfortable, supportive, and beautiful to look at, too. We think that if we spend a little more, we’ll get a better product. But is that the best way to know if you're purchasing a quality bra?

Price isn’t always indicative of quality. Yes, if the deal seems too good to be true, then it often is. But at the other end of the scale, sometimes you’re just paying a premium for the brand name.

So how do you tell if a bra is worth the price? If possible, head in store so you can see and touch the bra. Cheap products can often be made to look much better online. Then inspect the following features:

quality bra

See how the lace has areas with different stitch patterns? A cheap lace won’t look like this

Savoir Faire Sheer Bra by Dita Von Teese
Available in sizes 32C-36C
via Bare Necessities

The Materials

The material is the first thing you’ll see. If you know what to look for,  it can be an instant giveaway. Bras should always feel soft, not scratchy. If there’s mesh, the stretchier it is, the less supportive it’s going to be. If there’s satin, it should feel smooth to the touch. And be fluid, not stiff or plastic-y.

Lace quality varies wildly. Look out for any fluffiness around the edges, which is a sign of a cheap one as is a pattern with lots of large holes. A good lace will be more densely knit. Embroideries should appear tightly stitched, not like they’d snag if you ran a nail over them.

quality bra

The seams up the front of this bra are perfectly flat, with no wrinkling and no visible stitching.

Luxe Silk Triangle Bra
Available in size XS-L
via Fleur du Mal

The Stitching

Even a bra made from great-quality fabric can fall apart if not well sewn together. Look carefully at the bra, inside as well, for skipped stitches, loose threads, and raw fabric edges. The odd tiny flaw is not a cause for concern. But if there are lots of them, alarm bells should start ringing.

Stitches should be straight and small. Pay attention to the type of stitching used. Overlocked seams and edges are often, though not always, a sign of a cheaper made product. If there is overlocking, the stitches should look tight and neat.

quality bra

Only high-end brands can afford to use custom hardware, like the C charm on this Chantelle bra.

Wagram Lace Unlined Plunge Bra
Available in sizes 32C-40DD
via Chantelle

The Hardware

Bra hardware is usually metal. On very cheap bras, however, the strap rings and sliders are sometimes plastic. That will break easily, so it’s something to avoid.

Feel the hardware and check it feels smooth, not rough. Sliders should grip the straps securely. Otherwise, they’ll continuously be loosening themselves. If the hardware is unusually decorative or stamped with the brand name, that’s an indicator of a premium product.

quality bra

This strap elastic is thick. I don’t mean in width, although that too, but depth.

Satin Seamless Non-Padded Bra by Prima Donna
Available in sizes 30F-42G
via Figleaves

The Straps

Modern bra straps are always made of elastic, at least partially. But as with anything, it’s possible to buy both excellent and poor quality elastic. If the elastic is too weak, it will end up permanently deforming (i.e., stretching out). That affects the support and can lead to them slipping off your shoulders.

Tug at the elastic. Good quality straps will feel slightly firm, not ultra-flimsy. If the elastic gets visibly less opaque when you pull it, it’s too thin and flexible.

quality bra

The brand label inside this Naran bra is woven, not printed.

The Labels

Labels inside the bra can be printed, woven or embroidered. Printing is by far the cheapest option. However, with repeated washing, the text tends to fade away.

Of course, the durability of the label doesn’t affect the quality of the bra itself. But if a brand is skimping on this detail, what other shortcuts are they taking to cut costs? I wouldn’t let a printed label alone put you off buying a bra. It’s just one more thing you can check to make up your mind.

Anything Else?

If you’re buying a full-bust bra, look for wide bands, wider straps, extra cup seams, and side slings inside the cup. Not all full-bust bras have all these features. But they are signs the design has heavy-duty support in mind.

Of course, a good bra will also offer adequate support and comfort. However, even a luxury quality bra can give neither in the wrong size. Get a bra fitting if you’re struggling to find a decent bra, even with cash to splash.

Swimwear Collection

What else do you use to gauge whether a bra is well-made? What’s the biggest giveaway of a quality bra, in your opinion?

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Estelle is a twenty-something mum who recently emigrated from the UK to sunny Spain. She launched her online boutique, Esty Lingerie, in 2009 while at university, and after adding a blog to the site realized that writing is really where her passion lies. She now spends her days waxing lyrical about bras and knickers for a living, as a full-time blogger and a freelance copywriter and digital marketer for the lingerie industry.
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