The Best Way to Buy Levi’s 501 Jeans Right Now

The Best Way to Buy Levi’s 501 Jeans Right Now

Y’all heard the new Post Malone and Beyoncé song? “Levii’s Jeans“? It stinks! It stinks like unwashed raw denim. We’re BeyHive here at Esquire. We’re Post Malone stans, too. Everything else on the album is phenomenal, but that song sounds like a bad TV commercial. But dammit, like every bad Super Bowl commercial out there, it makes us want to pull on some Levi’s 501s.

One thing we do love here at Esquire, though, is our jeans. And more specifically, some vintage Levi’s 501s. As menswear and denim nerds, we know which Levi’s styles are the best, so let us be your jeans consultants.

Personally, and speaking for the whole Esquire editorial team, I’ve got eBay alerts for “Levi’s 501 Made in U.S.A.,” with every possible version of U.S.A., U.S., America, etc., etc. Levi’s stopped making jeans in the U.S. in the early 2000s—2003, officially—and since then has made minor tweaks to the jeans that ultimately make them a lot worse, in my mind. These days, the best Levi’s are all vintage, and anything Made in U.S.A. tells you the jeans are at least old enough to have the old-school stylings that we menswear nerds love. The rise is a tad higher, the pockets frame your ass better, and the fit is a little bit more classic.

You can always find some great beat-up jeans, and sometimes you can find lightly used ones. But if you’re really lucky, you can find some never-before-shrunk vintage Levi’s 501s on eBay. They’ll cost you, and the odds might be stacked against you depending on your measurements. But if you do, that’s a real grail.

Levi’s Vintage 501s

Vintage 501s

Levi’s Vintage 501s

If you want to hop on this upcoming Levi’s trend and don’t want to shell out $100 for someone else’s old jeans, though, a brand-new pair of 501s isn’t a bad shout. You just need to know which models are worth your time and money.

For me, there are three main ones. There’s the ’93 straight fit, a modern re-creation of my favorite vintage Levi’s. They’re that ’90s heartthrob fit. The rise is slightly higher, and the fit is a tad wider. You get a classic stovepipe look. Another great pair is the Levi’s Premium Selvedge 501. Here you get the modern fit with a more classic, slightly higher-quality selvedge denim. Lastly, there’s the 501 Original Shrink-to-Fit, a classic 501 that hasn’t ever been soaked. That means they’re going to shrink the first time you wash them. The trick to making sure they don’t shrink too much is to wash them in your bathtub gently. Then put them on wet and wear them around. (I’m not fucking joking!) They’ll stretch just enough to mold to your hips and ass. Line-dry them from there on out.

501 '93

Levi’s 501 ’93

501 Selvedge

Levi’s Premium 501 Selvedge

501 Original Shrink-to-Fit

Levi’s 501 Original Shrink-to-Fit

If you really, really just want a mainline 2024 pair of Levi’s, I can respect that. We denim nerds would want you to buy one of the higher-end or vintage models. But if you’ve only got less than $100 to spend, we can make that work. Obviously, I’ll recommend the classic 501, but beware: The 2024 version isn’t as good as the old ones. The rise isn’t as high, so they’re more of a mid-low rise these days. Plus, the back pockets sit a little funny, and that has an unsexy effect on your ass. These are the reasons I buy Wrangler Cowboy Cuts when I buy new jeans. Personally, within the Levi’s lineup, I think the 505 is a better bet. Those jeans have a zip fly with a more relaxed, almost baggy fit. At that fit, the rise and the pocket placement don’t matter as much. The end result, no matter what, is a classic Seinfeld ’90s look.

But… trust me on this one. If you want to really jump on this 2024 western wear trend, buy a pair of Levi’s 517s. Bootcut? Are you crazy? Yes, I am! I already told y’all I love bootcut jeans. Buy a pair of cowboy boots—we prefer Tecovas or Lucchese—throw on some bootcut jeans, and get to the fucking honky-tonk.

501

Levi’s 501

505

Levi’s 505

517

Levi’s 517

All right, that’s a lot of information on jeans, but like I said, this is what we nerd out about. Plus, with the state of menswear in 2024, there are so few deals out there. Nothing is made as nice as it used to be. All anyone wants to sell you are joggers and stretchy pants. But if you ever need someone to review the Levi’s 501 or tell you what denim to buy, we will be here. Esquire will always be here.

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