Goodness knows we’re all denim connoisseurs at heart. If you’re anything like us, then you’re constantly on the hunt for the perfect pair of Levi’s that evokes days spent on the boardwalk. With perfectly worn-in, high-waisted styles dominating the street-style scene, the time is now to get to the bottom of how to score the perfect vintage-style pair. Below, we’re dishing eight tips that will make your next denim thrifting experience as pain-free as possible.
1. Expect to try on plenty of pairs. Try, try, try, and try again. It may take 30 (or more) pairs before you find “the one.” Resist the urge to settle for a slew of meh jeans — it’s the one that fits in all the right places that makes the wild goose chase worth it in the end. Brit + Co Pick: Shop Future Levi’s Jean Shorts ($35)
2. Ignore the size label. Odds are, a majority of the vintage Levi’s you encounter will be men’s jeans — hence their irregular sizing (AKA, you can count on going up at least two sizes). Not to mention shrink-to-fit fabrics and tricky vanity sizing (an industry-wide practice of assigning smaller sizes to boost sales). When in doubt, wrap the waistband of the denim shorts around your neck; if the ends meet, then you should have a winner on your hands.
3. Know your denim styles. While fashion girls swear by Levi’s legendary 501s, the brand’s 505s and 551s are noteworthy in their own right. The 501s flaunt a roomy button-front fit, whereas the 505s have a zipper closure, meaning they tend to fit a bit more snugly. Petite gals will seek solace in Levi’s 551s — characterized by a high-rise, zip fly, for a true “mom jeans” fit. Brit + Co Pick: Vintage Levi’s Cutoff Shorts by What Goes Around Comes Around ($72)
4. When thrifting fails, try an online vintage clothing retailer specializing in denim. Meet the Denim Refinery, a one-stop shop for all your favorite vintage denim brands, including Levi Strauss. Special treatments — such as waxing, distressing, and softening — are utilized to preserve the fabric in its original state. Brit + Co Pick: Denim Refinery The Picnic Patchwork Distressed Back Levi’s Shorts ($89)
5. Be willing to spend an upwards of $100+ for a customized pair of Levi’s. If you’re looking for a bargain, then off to your local thrift store you go. For ALL the bells and whistles — namely, cool-girl flair — expect to fork over the moolah. Unemployed Denim’s online shop is a gold mine for a curated collection of vintage cutoffs that have been customized with paint splatters, frayed hems, and festival-ready patches. Brit + Co Pick: Unemployed Denim Lightning Shorts ($148)
6. Hit up Urban Outfitters for repurposed vintage Levis. Urban Outfitter’s in-house label, Urban Renewal, is known to churn out quite a few pairs of repurposed Levi’s. Whether upcycled from a pair of old vintage Levi’s jeans or spiffed up with a slew of playful patches (we see you, Mickey!) and one-of-a-kind distressing, no two pairs are alike. Brit + Co Pick: Urban Renewal Recycled Levi’s Cartoon Patch Denim Short ($59)
7. Reimagined Levi’s are all the rage. RE/DONE, your source for authentic vintage Levi’s, reimagines each handpicked pair according to contemporary fit guides and current market trends. By taking the vintage denim apart at the seams, they’re able to repurpose it into a new pair cutoffs while maintaining the heritage of your fave Levi’s. These overdyed shorts sporting a loose fit and tattered hem are as classic as they come. Brit + Co Pick: Re/Done Overdyed Short ($175)
8. Make your own denim cutoffs from scratch. Say you already have a beloved pair of Levi’s jeans in your possession that you’re willing to part with. Why not work some DIY magic by turning ‘em into some next-level cutoffs? You’ll have free rein to personalize them as you see fit — plus bragging rights when you get stopped on the streets for your mad seamstress skills. It’s a win-win.
Will you be investing in a pair of vintage denim cutoffs this summer? Follow us on Pinterest for more summer styling tips!
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