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.
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.
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.
- b. tempt'd by Wacoal^
- Creme Bralee*^
- Frederick's of Hollywood*^
- Just My Size*
- La Leche League (maternity)*^
- Leading Lady*^
- Pour Moi?*^
- QT Intimates*^
- Rougette by Tutti Rouge*^
- Self Expressions
- Sloggi (wirefree)
- Smart & Sexy
- Timpa (small bust)
- Vanity Fair*^
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.
- Addition Elle*^
- Calvin Klein
- Cleo by Panache^
- Curvy Couture*^
- Curvy Kate/Scantilly*^
- Heidi Klum Intimates^
- Cacique/Lane Bryant*^
- On Gossamer
- Parfait (formerly Parfait by Affinitas)*^
- Sculptresse (formerly Sculptresse by Panache)*^
- Victoria's Secret^
Places to Shop Online for Cheap Bras (Multi-Brand Retailers)
- Bare Necessities
- eBay (if you already know your fave style or brand, search for it on ebay!)
- Nordstrom Rack (Keep an eye out for the Clear the Racks Sale, the best deal of the year)
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?