Something Old, Something New: Shopping Hacks for Vintage 501 Levi’s

Hey darlings!  It FINALLY happened…after a couple years of searching and trying on dozens & dozens of jeans, a pair of vintage 501 Levi’s have finally found me!!  This may sound like whatever, but for me this is EPIC!! Soooo I gotta share the “How To” on finding a pair of your own. My Levi journey has taught me a lot about this Americana Classic.  

This past Father’s Day I hung out with my dad at the Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance vintage car show, the perfect setting to take my new babies out for a spin.

Buying a pair of old used Levi 501’s sounds simple enough right?  Like no, it ain’t!! They are actually THE most elusive piece of clothing I’ve EVER wanted. That perfect faded, washed out, broken in denim, straight leg with just the right taper at the ankle, and a button fly is a must.  I see all the beautiful LA babes walking around in their vintage 501’s…is it asking too much for a pair of my own?!

My determination to find the perfect pair of 501’s stems from seeing my daughter May lookin’ super cute in her pairs. Do you know what it has been like shopping with May and she’s like, “Mom look at these Levi’s… you should try them on while I try on a pair too.”  Basically while May has amassed a nice little collection I have been pouting with my head hanging feeling freakin’ disappointed. It’s not anyone’s fault really, my figure is so much harder to shop for. But I have to say, buying her Levi’s has given me a benchmark of how I wanted mine to fit.

I’m not an expert, but since I’ve tried on so many pairs at so many places I can at least give my insight on snagging a perfect pair of your own.

Tips for Shopping Vintage 501 Levi's

How to Shop for Vintage 501 Levi's
Vintage 501 Levi’s via Rose Bowl Flea Market

Tips for finding the perfect pair of vintage 501 Levi’s:

  1. FACT: The size on the original label don’t mean a thing!!  You HAVE TO TRY THEM ON!! The original label is like a general guideline, it’ll get you in the ballpark but the try on will let you know for sure.  No matter what do not buy until you slip them on. FOR EXAMPLE the label on my pair reads 28×30
  2. Most of the really good spots will not have a fitting room.  So if you plan on shopping at a thrift store or flea market remember to dress accordingly to try on. I usually wear a skirt to easily slip clothes on underneath.
  3. Ok you’re at a flea market and you see vendors selling piles and piles of Levi’s…how do you sort through them? Label yes, but fold the pants in half pockets facing out. Look at the inseam…for the curvy booty babes like me you want the inseam to curve out a bit.
  4. Button flies are a must!!  For whatever reasons the button flies run bigger through the butt and hip area.
  5. Be ready to pay $$$$  The inflation on 501’s is IN-sane!!  You have no idea how much vendors or stores will charge for these elusive babies.  Depending on where you shop you will pay anywhere from 5 bucks to a remarkable $250. I will have none of that $250 for a pair of vintage jeans, that’s way too much!!  I’m not mad if you’re willing to spend that kind of money on 501’s, I’m just saying I would never. You can skip the leg work and shop with Redone. They are doing something quite special by reconstructing vintage Levi’s but again, you’ll pay top dollar for these high coveted one of a kind beauties.  They start at $200.
  6. PATIENCE:  Give it time.  Well to be fair it depends on your body type.  I would say the straighter you are through the hips and butt the better chance you’ll find a pair of 501’s that fit.  For me it took like a year+ of trying while May for example found several pairs during that time.

Shopping Hacks for Finding Vintage 501 Levi's

Where to shop vintage 501 Levi’s in Los Angeles:

  • Rose Bowl Flea Market and Vintage Resellers $25 and up
  • American Rag $60 and up
  • Urban Outfitters $80 and up
  • Thrift Store like Goodwill or Super Thrift $5 and up

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