Surprise! They don’t exist! Well, they do, but you might have to search a little and be ready to have some alterations done to get to that perfect fit. All un-altered Levi 501s (which have become the most coveted vintage jeans) that I’ve come across are a true straight leg. They just needed to have the leg tapered and hemmed to achieve a more modern fit. My favorite place to find vintage Levi 501s is on Etsy. There’s a wide range of washes, sizes and prices, so you really have your pick. I’d also suggest already having a seamstress you trust in place so once your jeans arrive, you can go get them altered right away! A few other of my other guidelines below.
(image via ONAIR tumblr)
1 / Figure out your size. Levis are not sized like modern jeans, so you’ll want to check the measurements before purchasing a pair. You’ll want to take your regular waist size and add a few inches. The length of the jean shouldn’t matter too much because you’re probably going to get the length shortened, but just make sure that the jeans aren’t shorter than what you’re looking for! Levis are sized based on waist and length, that’s why you see two measurements when looking at these jeans. Like I said, I like to shop online on Etsy. If you’re at all unsure, message the shop owner and get their help. They’re seasoned pros!
2 / Decide on a wash. The shop owners are pretty much always willing to answer your fit/wash questions and help find the perfect pair. So what you have to decide is whether you want a light wash and some distressing? Or a true blue pair? Or a dark blue pair? There is no right answer, but deciding this will help narrow down your search (there’s a lot of jeans to choose from.) Right now, I’m loving a true blue pair of vintage jeans; not too light, not too dark.
3 / Consider the price. The reason I say this is because you’re probably going to have to get them altered, which will obviously increase the cost. A tapered leg is $20 at my seamstress and a hem is $15. Make sure you check with your seamstress so you know what you’re getting yourself into cost-wise! I like to spend around $40 on a pair of vintage jeans knowing that I’ll put $35 into them. That $75 price tag for a custom pair of perfectly fitted jeans is pretty great, especially in comparison to some brands that charge WAY more for a pair of altered vintage jeans (like RE/DONE).
4 / Think about the look you’re going for before going to the seamstress. Do you want a skinnier leg? A true straight leg? Or an overall baggy fit? Do you want the jean cropped to show a little ankle or with a little extra hem so that you can roll and cuff the jeans? Go into the seamstress with a game plan for what you’re looking for. Personally, I like a true-straight leg that borders on skinny cropped to hit the ankle. If you need inspiration, check out my Pinterest…lots of different jean styes to choose from!
Now all you have to do is wait impatiently for your jeans to be ready from the seamstress! Don’t fret if the look wasn’t perfectly achieved when you pick them up (always try them on once the alterations are done!) Most seamstresses are willing to adjust the jeans based on what you want for no extra charge. Let me know if you guys have any questions!