Vintage Levi’s are all the rage right now, but if you aren’t in the mood to spend $200+ on a pair from Re/done or a similar vintage reseller, finding a pair in a vintage shop or an online vintage store is your best option. Levi’s were founded in 1853 as a clothing repair company, but the brand manufactured its first iconic 501 style in the 1890s.
Since then, Levi’s became a staple for the working people in the western U.S. in the early 1900s. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, blue jeans became a more mainstream style and the brand grew even larger. Today, the brand is known worldwide for its signature rigid denim and brown leather tag.
Choosing the Right Style
While the 501’s might be what you know and love, there are tons more styles that might be easier (and cheaper!) to get your hands on.
501: These jeans have a straight leg and a mid-rise fit, which is very similar to how modern jeans would fit. However, the 501’s have a different cut than modern jeans: the back panel of fabric is cut wider than the front panel. This means the jeans hug your booty and give it a good lift (we love that).
517: These jeans have a subtle flare, unline 501’s. If you get your 517’s from the ‘70s, they’ll likely have a higher rise than the ‘90s style. Additionally, all 517’s have a zipper fly, while 501’s have a button fly. 517’s would pair perfectly with a heel to complement the slight flare.
505: This no-nonsense jean is a straight leg cut with a zipper fly. The hips on these jeans are more narrow and don’t have the extra room in the back like 501’s. However, the tailored fit on these jeans gives a crisper look.
Oh, vanity sizing. Modern brands all have different sizing strategies, which means your 28” waist would be a size 26 or 27 in new clothing but a size 30 in vintage clothing. Knowing your measurements is a great way to shop for vintage jeans online, as you can ensure your numbers match up. However, you can also purchase a larger size and tailor them to fit you perfectly.
Vintage Levi's Styling Tips
There are many different ways to style vintage Levi’s (check out our vintage styling tips here), a lot of which depends on your personal style. However, here are some different ideas that might spark some inspiration from your own closet or on your next vintage shop.
This Vintage Blue Snowflake Sweater would look adorable tucked into some vintage 501s for winter. Pair it with a bright puffy coat and beanie to complete your warm look.
This Vintage 1960s Red Bandana Blouse is the epitome of summer and would be perfect for the Fourth of July tucked into some Levi’s. You could also crop the blouse or tie it in the front for a more modern look.
There’s no look more classic than a leather jacket and jeans. This Vintage 1970s Black Leather Biker Jacket has a shorter length, which would complement the high-rise of the jeans.