You can't start a series about thrift classics without starting with the most popular second-hand denim: Levi's 501. A style staple in many thrifter's wardrobe and a true vintage classic! Featured on the memorable album cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. back in 1984, it’s safe to say these jeans are here to stay. My thrifted 501s make me feel like, in Bruce’s words, I’m On Fire.
What is the Levi's 501?
The 501 jeans is a Levi's classic, first made 145 years ago. It’s an American icon that perseveres as one of the most worn denim in the (fashion) world. The 501 is a simple jeans with a regular fit and straight legs. It's not exactly high-waisted but it sits comfortably just below the waist.
Why should I thrift 501s?
Take my word for it: nothing, and I mean nothing, beats an already lived-in 501 jeans. Vintage Levi’s are like a fine wine that gets better with time, a comfort you never knew you needed. Vintage 501s hug your body with its softened fabric and it’s bliss.
I feel like vintage jeans are also of much better quality. Levi’s are known for their legendary durability and speaking from my own experience, I can vouch for that. Even after a dozen washes, my 501s are still in the same condition I bought them.
How do I know if my find is a Levi’s 501?
Look at the leather patch on the back of the jeans. In the bottom left corner, there’s the model. It should say 501 over there. In the right bottom corner, you find the jeans’ size and length.
How do I know it’s an authentic Levi’s and not a fake?
Fashion staples get counterfeited all the time and the Levi’s 501 is no different. Luckily, it’s easy to see if your thrift find is authentic or not:
✰ The flies of 501s have buttons, not a
✰ The leather patch on the back of the
jeans is made of high-quality material.
It’s possible that the color is a bit faded
(that happens after a lot of washes) but
it shouldn’t crack or peel.
✰ There’s a red Levi’s tab on the left side
of the back right pocket.
✰ See if both back pockets have that famous V-shaped stitching.
✰ Feel the denim: even lived-in the Levi’s should feel a little stiff and resilient.