Originally Posted by StarryEyedTiGeR
How often do you buy/replace your bras?
Ok, if I answered about how often I replace them, it probably wouldn't help you, but here are some guidelines:
If you hand wash and dry your bras (tip: even if you cheat and put them in the washer, never ever put them in the dryer - the heat does terrible things to most of them), and if you only ever wash them in mild soap (such as hand wash for delicates or shampoo) you should get at least six months out of the bra - more is likely, unless your size changes.
Many women have two or even three "sizes" depending on manufacturer and/or time of the month, and swap between them as needed.
A new, correctly fitting bra fits on the first hook/s - the second and further hooks are only for use as the bra ages and loosens. If you're buying bras that "fit" on the second or tighter settings, you will get less use out of the bra.
I've never bought cheap bras (not for any reason except availablality - they don't make deptarment store brands in my size, at least here), so I don't know if they tend to be false economy or not. At a GUESS, especially at DD and larger sizes, it is a "get what you pay for" thing.
Now, for the fun part: Shopping advice! (Warning, your mileage may vary!)
1. Ok, first, know your own boobs. If there is a style (full, balconette, whatever) that has always suited you before, stick with it. For example, I always wear a full bra. This is not always fun as balconettes allow for more cleveage showing off, but I've never found a balconette that didn't make me look like the four-boobed woman. Some women look amazing in them - just know your boobs. Remember: it's a disappointment not to buy a bra you love, but it's a bigger disappointment to buy a bra that doesn't love you
2. If money is an issue, make sure that you buy at least 1 perfectly fitting, preferably seamless (IF you can wear them - remember to try on with a tight-fitting shirt to see if your bust is flattered or destroyed by this bra) - in a neutral colour - goldy/beige if you're white/light, mocha-esque if you're darker skinned. The point is this is the one that will be invisible (or as close to) under anything - dark top, light top, whatever. This is the case even if you ONLY EVER wear one colour top.
3. If money is an issue, and you need two different sizes for different times of the month, make sure you buy two bras in your "skin" colour.
4. If you have money to spare, don't just be swayed by pretty materials - some of them won't suit. Make sure to play around with different styles to see how they change your bust line. Don't forget to get a neutral bra, preferably a few in a few different shapes (as many as you can get, really).
5. If your bust isn't on the too large for it size, and there is money left over, don't forget to pick up a strapless and a backless bra.
6. Have fun!