16
Aug

Investment Pieces: Levi’s 501 jeans

Remember the pilot of “Put This On” and how it was kind of mindblowing that some people spend a couple hundred dollars on jeans? At the time, I thought, “Wow, that’s fucking expensive. I’ll never do that.” Fast forward two-and-a-half years later and I’m buying a pair of 3Sixteens at Self Edge in San Franscisco’s Mission District. 

But let’s rewind a bit to just over two years ago when I decided to buy a pair of Levi’s 501s that happened to be selvedge and their “rigid” dark denim fabric. I did the whole thing of sizing down 2” in the waist, knowing it would stretch and began to break them in for a week. Then two weeks. Then almost three. 

I never got them hemmed, even though my tailor gave me some shit about rolling the cuffs (“You look like a little boy!” he said, after only a few weeks earlier telling me I should start shaving regularly because I looked like an old man). I washed them the first time in a bathtub with Woolite Dark and let them hang dry after about six months.

It’s been about the same amount of time between washes since. It’s not that I can’t stand the smell, but every once in a while I’ll be at the grocery store or in a bar in Logan Square and some hipster just reeks really bad of body odor — like those kids in junior high gym class whose parents hadn’t had the deodorant talk yet with them — and I get a bit self conscious and smell my jeans to see if they are approaching ironic levels of freshness. I just hate the idea of smelling offensive to people when I actually have access to water and soap. 

Still, the jeans are great. No crotch blowouts, no rips or serious damage. The fading has started to show up a bit, especially when I compare them to my newer jeans. But the real awesome thing is just how comfortable they are to wear. I love wearing them around the house, because they’re never not soft and worn. It’s like comfort food, that you wear on your legs. 

Best of all, they weren’t that expensive. You can easily find pairs for under $100.

The cut isn’t the slimmest, but it’s not bordering on absurd, either. If you really want to slim them up, pay $15-30 to a tailor to have them tapered to your liking (something I did with a pair in white denim). Plus, I really like them for the fact they have a button fly and the rise on them is a little bit higher — something nice to have in the sea of low-rise denim out there (how people keep their shirts tucked in, I’ll never know). 

But get a cheap pair of jeans and then you won’t be afraid to screw them up by wiping your dirty hands on them all the time — like when you’re prepping ingredients to make tacos or spilled some of your drink on your hands. They’re jeans, not rare silks. Wear them paintballing or while digging your car out from the largest blizzard in decades. 

I’m not going to be that denimhead who tells you “My jeans, they tell a story,” because that’s not true and my life isn’t that interesting. But I have noticed that there’s a worn diagonal crease line along the left thigh to the knee where the fabric always bends from when I cross my leg while sitting. And there’s a white stain from my pet cockatiel who shit on them because I haven’t figured out how to housetrain her in the past dozen years I’ve had her — not that I’m angry or anything about that.

You’ll probably wear jeans a lot — even if you wear a suit all day, you’ll probably just want to come home and change into jeans at the end of it — and I can say for certain that a pair of Levi’s 501s should last you a good while. I feel like I got a lot of mileage out of mine and I still keep grabbing them off the door hook in the morning. 

(“Investment Pieces" is a series about the items in my wardrobe that have gotten the most usage and wear. It’s part review and part paean to the clothes I really would recommend to anybody. These aren’t luxury items or limited in availability — you can get them anywhere at anytime for a fairly reasonable price.) 

06
Jun
It’s on sale: Levi’s selvedge “matchstick” denim — Now only $99 (down from $148) during Levi’s clearance sale. 

It’s on sale: Levi’s selvedge “matchstick” denim — Now only $99 (down from $148) during Levi’s clearance sale. 

03
May

White Denim: a summer staple on sale

White denim is fantastic for summer — a favorite of mine last year. It pairs well with blues and tans, making it a great fit to either contrast with hopsack blazers or linen sport coats. For those looking to take a more colorful approach to summer in their tailored jackets — either preppy or Pitti inspired — the neutral tone of white works well to compliment them, too, be they a wild madras or vivid washed cotton. 

If you’re unsure of where white denim might fit into what you already wear, treat them like you would khaki chinos or grey trousers in your wardrobe. I find white denim works best as a casual alternative to trousers and a warmer substitute for fabrics like linen on sunny weekend days. 

Best of all, getting white denim isn’t that costly and fits right in for those of you on the ramen noodle budget. 

Levi’s 501s in white denim are on sale for $33.60 with promo code FF2012, which knocks 30% off during their Friends & Family sale. (Sale ends May 7th.)

As far as sizing goes, I went down 2” from my waist size, as the denim will stretch out over time. Also, I took mine to the tailor to have them altered to a 7-inch leg opening and hemmed to no break. They look great with a pair of suede tassel loafers or chukka boots. 

23
Nov
Levi’s on sale — All items 25% off with free shipping on orders over $50. Use promo code THANKS25. This puts the price of their selvedge denim at $111.

Levi’s on sale — All items 25% off with free shipping on orders over $50. Use promo code THANKS25. This puts the price of their selvedge denim at $111.

26
Oct

I just bought my first pair of selvage 501's which I love, but the leg opening is a bit too wide. Can you recommend what to say to my tailor about tapering width? I have zero experience with asking for a taper and I want slim, but not "full-Seinfeld".

- Asked by Anonymous

Depends on how slim you want it. For most trousers, I like about 7-7.5” leg openings, tapered through the entire leg. For my white 501s though, I asked for a 7” opening and had the tailor pin the legs the whole way up.

Basically, have a conversation with your tailor, try on the jeans and have him pin it up while you’re there. If you want something done a certain way, then you have to communicate it. They’re not mindreaders.

ADDING noahzagor said:

Tapering selvage denim will make the selvage on your cuff look wider. Not necessarily a bad thing, but a clear marker that they’ve been tapered. Just something to consider.

Good point. I think that’s just something you’re going to have to decide: Do I live with a wider selvedge line or a wider leg opening?

13
Sep

I suppose I could have made this into one ask, sorry about that. Anyway, I need belt advice! I got a pair of Rigid Levi 511's last week, and I'm having a hard time deciding what color belt to wear. They're a very dark/deep indigo color if that helps. Thanks!

- Asked by Anonymous

Generally speaking, your belt should match your shoes in color (and probably material).

You could probably go really wild picking a belt out and spend some serious cash on a jean belt (generally a wider width than a dress belt) from places like Tanner Goods, Hollows Leather, Narragansett Leathers, and lots of other leather makers.

Personally, I just use L.L.Bean’s chino belt or a military surplus canvas web belt. I’d rather spend my money on other things, given that I often wear a jacket that covers my belt anyway.

01
Sep
It’s on sale: Levi’s raw selvedge 501s — Made from White Oak Cone Mills denim in the U.S.A., these jeans will cost you $133.50 with coupon code LABORDAY, which takes 25% off of all Levi’s items online. Also available in 505 and 511.
If that’s still out of your price range but you still want selvedge jeans, then consider the non-U.S.A.-made jeans, the 501 Shrink-to-fit, 505s and the 514s for $73.50, and the 511s for $88.50.
I have a pair of the 501s and would recommend sizing down in your waist size by 2” (ie: I’m normally a 34” waist, so I got the 32”).
Deal ends September 6th.

It’s on sale: Levi’s raw selvedge 501s — Made from White Oak Cone Mills denim in the U.S.A., these jeans will cost you $133.50 with coupon code LABORDAY, which takes 25% off of all Levi’s items online. Also available in 505 and 511.

If that’s still out of your price range but you still want selvedge jeans, then consider the non-U.S.A.-made jeans, the 501 Shrink-to-fit, 505s and the 514s for $73.50, and the 511s for $88.50.

I have a pair of the 501s and would recommend sizing down in your waist size by 2” (ie: I’m normally a 34” waist, so I got the 32”).

Deal ends September 6th.

22
Aug
cubicleparty:

Washing my jeans for the very first time since I bought them … a year ago.

Before/after pictures coming soon!

cubicleparty:

Washing my jeans for the very first time since I bought them … a year ago.

Before/after pictures coming soon!

14
Jul
suitsandboots:

Levi’s SALE ALERT: Take another 50% off SALE merch with promo code JULY50 today only. A great option if you’re in the market for a nice ($50) trucker jacket for the fall. This “trucker-work” jacket looks like another interesting option. They run small FYI.
There’s also a smattering of jeans available, most around $20 with promo. Also, selvage 501 dad jeans for $45.
Jeans
Shirts/Jackets
Accessories

For those of you folks on the ramen-noodle budget — or are like me and just like the button-fly and higher rise of the 501s.

suitsandboots:

Levi’s SALE ALERT: Take another 50% off SALE merch with promo code JULY50 today only. A great option if you’re in the market for a nice ($50) trucker jacket for the fall. This “trucker-work” jacket looks like another interesting option. They run small FYI.

There’s also a smattering of jeans available, most around $20 with promo. Also, selvage 501 dad jeans for $45.

For those of you folks on the ramen-noodle budget — or are like me and just like the button-fly and higher rise of the 501s.

02
Jul

how would one wear a classic levi's jean trucker jacket?

- Asked by Anonymous

That’s a tough one and casual looks aren’t typically my style. If you’re going to wear it with denim, make sure the shades are different colors. I’d say go with lighter earthtones, like white, off-white and khaki denim jeans. You could also pair it with chinos. For a shirt, I’d go with a white or university-striped OCBD and a necktie in a casual fabric (cotton, madras, linen, chambray, wool) probably with some sort of pattern.

I seem to remember the guys at Street Etiquette incorporating jean jackets into their look and acollectedgentleman often wears a jean jacket, too.

21
May

The spring-summer uniform: white jeans

Now that the weather’s nicer and the sun is out, it’s time to bring back white denim. Sure, you can wear it year-round, however, rain, snow, mud, etc. will probably mess them up and it’s not worth the trouble for me. But temperatures in the high 70s and no rain? Shine on.

Before heading out today, I decided to shoot a few looks of how I’ll be incorporating white jeans into my basic uniform for summer. Nothing revolutionary here, but if you haven’t picked up a pair yet, perhaps this will tip you toward such a purchase.

For those that want to know, they are a pair of Levi’s 501s that I had tapered at the tailor to a 7” leg opening. The jeans plus alterations shouldn’t run you over $70 total, and while you certainly can buy higher-end white denim, just keep in mind that it’s only a matter of time before you dirty them up to the point of no return and you’ll have to buy a new pair if you want that super-bright look. Dark denim will hide stains, white denim will showcase them.

For going casually: just a lightweight wool sport coat, no tie and a red-checked square. This isn’t a typical look for me, but would work great on those unbearably hot days when a necktie is even too much.

For going to dinner: a blue linen jacket, navy with red dot square and a club-striped necktie. Linen keeps this a bit more sport-ish and casual, but the tie and semi-constructed jacket gives the look a slight bit of formality that looks appropriate for dinner (hopefully, it’s outdoor dining).

For going to work: Jeans to work? Sure, it’s summer. Navy wool blazer (partially lined), red square with white edges and necktie. Probably should wear socks, too — or not.

For going to Hell: Add your loudest jacket, put on your shades and enjoy a mojito.

07
Feb
10
Dec
suitsandboots:

The official TBTYH method to shrink-to-fit your Levi’s

Future Levi’s 501 STF owners, take note from a guy who’s probably gotten quite good at the process by now.

suitsandboots:

The official TBTYH method to shrink-to-fit your Levi’s

Future Levi’s 501 STF owners, take note from a guy who’s probably gotten quite good at the process by now.

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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