"That's why the modern ones are cut a little squarer and rectangular on top, and have a wider leg." : The 505s are probably the most flattering on you.Because the 505 has a zipper fly, versus a button fly on the 501s, it lies flat on your midsection."The buttons on the 501 push the front of the tummy out, creating a pouch," Cheung explains."The zipper fly makes that area flat and holds you in." If you're looking for a universally flattering cut: Then it's the 517s for you.
The three most popular vintage styles are the 501, 505, and 517, Hillman confirms."The leg, too, was relatively slim in the '60s." : Search for a pair that was made in the mid- to late-'90s."As men started started wearing their jeans toward their hips, due to rock 'n roll influences (Ramones, Iggy Pop, Kurt Cobain), the 501s evolved into a looser, more relaxed, more grunge-y shape," Cheung continues.It seems as though everyone I know is currently obsessed with vintage jeans. It's all I want to wear, and it's the only thing I want to buy—something easier said than done, which I didn't learn until I was in the fitting room at a vintage pop-up shop in So Ho trying on what seemed like my 50th pair.It was a disheartening process and the search seemed futile—so much so that at one point the shop's denim expert began to avoid eye contact and hint at what I suspected 25 pairs ago: "We might not have anything for you." Of course, it wasn't her fault."You definitely go on a journey with the previous owner." tricky."There's vanity sizing (an industry-wide practice of assigning smaller sizes to boost sales), which means the marked size of your jeans today is actually smaller than your true waist size," Cheung says of how things are sized today.In a last ditch effort, she asked me if I wanted to try the 505—a style that's very similar to the 501s in almost every aspect except that it has a zipper fly instead of buttons. I may have lucked out as Goldilocks with my "just right" jeans, but it struck me just how much of a challenge it is to shop for vintage denim. Adjust Your Expectations "Carve out some time, and know that it's going to take you awhile to find the perfect pair of vintage Levi's," Cheung says.All of them run small by several sizes, and if I had been left to my own devices, I would have been at a complete loss. "You might try on, say 20 pairs, but enjoy the experience, enjoy the journey."If I don't have a tape measure and I don't want to rely on the sizing, then I'll throw the jean around my neck—if it fits, then I know it'll fit over my hips and waist," Hillman reveals."I do this test a lot, especially if I can't be bothered to try on a style." RELATED: Where to Get Your Vintage Denim Fix Coast to Coast Make Sure It Fits from the Butt Up (You Can Tailor the Rest) "Everything from the waist to the top of your thighs is critical," says Cheung, who personally gets his Levi's altered at any one of Levi's Tailor Shop locations.