Where and How to Shop for Cheap Bras (That Are Still Decent Quality)
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Where and How to Shop for Cheap Bras (That Are Still Decent Quality)

Editor's Note: This article has been split into two parts since publication. You can find the original first half here.

Aerie

Aerie



Let's talk about cheap bras.

Bra pricing is a sensitive subject - on both sides. Brands, factories, and designers (the production end) as well as customers, buyers, and retailers (the consumer end) all have strong feelings. Many of those feelings are valid.

It doesn't help that there's so much feeling attached to bra pricing that conversations about the subject are often read as classist or a moral judgment on who "deserves" bras.

At the same time, the average person's idea of what it takes to design and manufacture a bra is often misguided. There's so little real and accessible information about the lingerie industry, that it's easy for misinformation to take hold and become passed down as fact.

No matter your ethical stance, the truth is we don't live in a world where everyone is paid fairly enough or highly enough to purchase garments that are fairly made and higher-priced. But we do live in a world where folks with boobs have to wear bras or face negative consequences, and where spending an entire day's wage (or more!) on a bra simply isn't feasible. And so, this article.

Before We Get Started...

The shopping section of this article is split into two parts: where to shop for bras that are always inexpensive and where to shop for pricier bras that can be found on sale.

But first, let's do a bit of framing. Choose 2 of the following: a low price, good fit (inclusive of an extended size range), or beautiful design.

Low prices combined with a huge size range? That means the focus isn't on pretty. Lots of sizes paired with gorgeous design? That doesn't come cheap. Low prices and beautiful, unique design? Well, the price perhaps wouldn't be as low if the company extended their sizing. It's all a balancing act.

Addition Elle

Addition Elle

The below brands are stocked at many department stores, brick and mortar boutiques (including boutiques the brand owns), and online retailers so you should have an easy time buying from this list when you're ready.

Inexpensive Bra Brands: Things to Know
  • Cheap bras can be okay or even decent quality, but a bra will not last forever at this price range. Even though labor is the most expensive part of a bra, components do affect cost. Less expensive components (plastic fasteners, overly stretchy fabrics) aren't as durable. You may, for example, find the lace or seams to be a bit more irritating or less delicate than you'd prefer. You may even find missed details like loose threads or skipped stitches. While that's not the ideal, of course, it is something you may encounter more often at this price point.
Inexpensive Bra Brands List

I'm using $40-ish as the arbitrary cutoff for "inexpensive" here (which means these bras on sale will be in the $20-$25 range or less). An asterisk* means plus size (40+ bands). A carat^ means full bust (DD+ cups). Both symbols mean plus size and full bust.

Cacique by Lane Bryant

Cacique by Lane Bryant

Tips when Shopping for Cheap Bras That've Been Marked Down from a Higher Original Price
  • The big lingerie sales happen twice a year, usually around January and July, or thereabouts. That's when stores clear through their old stock to make room for new stuff.
  • Brick and mortar lingerie boutiques likely won't carry the cheaper brands listed above. While a physical store may carry items like Leg Avenue (which they significantly mark up to help cover overheads), when it comes to bras, these prices need to fall certain margin to be able to pay their overhead and staff...especially when your shop is focused on fit!. A higher-priced garment makes that easier (especially since bras are difficult to fit and frequently have a high return rate). Instead, help your local brick and mortar boutique clear out their old stock!
  • Popular styles, like bestselling basics in beige and black, will rarely be on sale. Instead, you'll usually see what are called "fashion colors" or "fashion styles" in markdowns. Think colors, prints, patterns, and embroidery - basically anything that isn't black, beige, or blush. That also means it's limited edition. Once it's gone, it's gone.
  • Similarly, bestselling or popular sizes may already be sold out. The tradeoff for waiting until an item goes on sale is that you may have a more limited selection. Please don't rant at the store about your size being sold out during a sale. That's the point. They're trying to sell out.
  • Finally, sometimes a bra is on sale because the fit isn't quite right or because it fits differently from other versions of the bra. For example, you may get a pointier bust instead of a rounder bust. That doesn't mean it's a bad bra, just that it may not be an ideal bra.
Fave Brands to Buy On Sale (sale prices bring these under $40)

*The brands here are originally priced at what I think of as the bra shopping "sweet spot" - high enough that there's a noticeable difference in quality, fit and longevity, but low enough that they become very affordable on sale. For example, bras in this price range will include higher quality fabrics and uniquely designed laces, embroideries and trims. They're also brands that may focus more on fit, especially for that fuller bust or plus size customer. 

Places to Shop Online for Cheap Bras (Multi-Brand Retailers)

Finally bra forums and online lingerie groups often sell or give away bras. My own group, Lingerie Addicts, has several bras for sale right now, and bras come up for sale regularly on sites like Bratabase.

Where are your favorite places to buy cheap bras? Any tips or tricks for getting the very best bra deals?


Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

19 Comments on this post

  1. Cora, I’ve just re-read this article and it is sooo good! It sums up a bunch of issues around the central theme very neatly and very correctly.

    Generally-speaking, I think people *do* tend to have at least a feel for what sensible and fair pricing looks like when it comes to clothing. Of course, that doesn’t mean that ‘sensible’ and ‘fair’ are always at the forefront of people’s minds when they pass a stunning storefront, with the word SALE up in bright lights above! We’ve all been guilty of it, for one reason or another.

    On bras specifically, in terms of margins, there is of course the differentiation between the underwired bra and the bralette/wire-free bra market, and again, agreeing with your point on materials vs. labour costs, the bralette revolution(!) has helped a lot of small start-ups get a foothold and indies keep themselves in the game in a market that incredibly heavily favours the multinational players.

  2. Gillian Kirby says:

    Hello! On the full bust front, you missed Debenhams’ range Gorgeous – a bra runs about £22, and some plainer styles come in two packs for about £25.

  3. Jayne Diver says:

    Fabulous article! I work in the industry and some ladies don’t understand why the cost of a bra can be so high! Thankyou for breaking it down and explaining some of the factors x

  4. Redheadfae says:

    I’m sorry, but I will staunchly disagree that Victoria’s Secret sells full cup bras. DD or DDD is as high as they go, and is where they’ll try to fit any large cup into, even if it means a terrible fit. Other than that, they do have lovely styles if you’re in core range.

    • Cora says:

      I think that’s fair. In industry terms, DD is the start of full bust sizing, which is why they’ve been listed here as a brand offering that range, but I’m going to go in soon and add another key that directs people to G+ cups, as you’re right that simply DD+ isn’t enough.

  5. Rita says:

    Thanks so much for this post……you included most of my go to places for my 38-40 HH girls…can’t believe you forgot about Zulily….I have been able to fill my drawer with bras from this shopping site…prices are so reasonable!! Keep up The great work!

  6. Hope says:

    I’m small, 34C or 36B, and for me Costco has the best solution. A t-shirt bra from Maidenform for $7.95, made of 79% Nylon/21% Elastane and so far they are holding up very well.

  7. Serena says:

    I’d also like to add one little thing in here: If you have a TJ MAXX or Ross or anywhere like that that buys and resells overstock or out-of-state items from larger stores, you will find absolutely steals! Lacy panties from department stores? $4. Bras in lovely colours? $10. Sometimes more, but *always* less than in a standard store.

  8. Jodi says:

    Marks & Spencer (they have an online store, so you can order from outside the UK. There’s a US dedicated shop (confusingly called Marks & Spencer London) which takes care of all the customs details and ships pretty quickly. My last order was 10 pair of knickers (panties) and 3 bras for around $55.

    Also, if you’re in the New York City area, Century 21 Department Stores has great deals, as long as you have the time and patience to sort through everything (a bit like Target). They do have an online store, but that also requires time and a bit of luck (lots of broken sizes, or one size).

  9. Marti says:

    Once when I was first married, I told my husband that since I was a teen (I was on my own at a very early age) I have based my financial security-or insecurity-on my lingerie drawer. Being a teen and homeless meant mostly I had NO undies.
    Thankfully, all turned out well and I have had a well stocked drawer for many decades now. ?. We laugh now when he spots a new bra or panty and says something like, “The stock market must be up”!
    Thanks for this article.

  10. Kim says:

    Very insightful article! Many of these themes are relevant to other parts of the fashion industry too. I used to buy aerie for the prices but they wear out too fast for it to be worth it. I’ve found that Nordstrom Rack and TJMaxx have good options in store as long as you have a little patience to look!

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