Which Levi’s jeans are best?
Few brands are more closely associated with the American lifestyle than Levi’s jeans. Levi Strauss, a German immigrant, first provided thick denim cloth to California gold miners in 1853 and it was later used to make durable overalls and patches for repairs. The first pair of copper-riveted pants was introduced in the 1890s and now Levi’s jeans are produced in a range of styles, colors and fabrics.
Levi Strauss & Co. is still based in California and its best and most famous style, Levi’s 501 Original Fit Jeans, has barely changed in well over a century.
What to know before you buy Levi’s jeans
Color and wear
Levi’s jeans were originally all dark blue, but now are produced in a wide range of colors. They are assigned a four-digit color code, placed on the inside label (although these are rarely used by the consumer). Some Levi’s are bleached or stone-washed to discolor the denim and give it a textured or faded look. This can be further embellished with intentional rips at strategic points to suggest that the jeans are vintage or worn-in.
Levi’s jeans measurements
Levi’s jeans are measured in four ways. The thigh width is determined by the distance from the crotch to the outer edge. The rise is the height from the crotch to the waistband. The leg is measured at the inseam from the ankle to the crotch and the waistband is measured around its circumference. Levi’s typically states measurements in inches, with waistbands ranging from 26 to 60 inches and inseams from 30 to 38 inches.
Choosing the correct fit
Several factors determine whether a pair of Levi’s jeans is a good fit, but personal preference and comfort are paramount. The waist and leg measurements can be found on the leather label at the back of the waistband. The break, where the leg of the jeans ends, should be level with the top of the foot and almost touch the floor at the heel.
What to look for in a quality pair of Levi’s jeans
As with any highly regarded brand, Levi’s jeans are often copied, and many brands create jeans similar in features and quality. However, they also are often counterfeited, which you should be wary of. Counterfeit jeans can be convincing but are usually substandard in their material, cut and build quality.
Check your jeans’ stitching as soon as you have them in your hands. Be sure to check both sides of the seam, from inside and out, to ensure the thread is not looped or broken. Seams should not be puckered or pulled apart; stitches should be uniform in both size and tension.
Choice of style
Levi’s jeans have come a long way since their days producing commercial workwear for miners. Their vast catalog of styles now includes straight cut, regular fit, skinny fit, bootcut, high-waisted, low rider, relaxed-fit and baggy-fit jeans. They are also available in shrink-to-fit options, for an especially tight cut, and with a slightly elasticated twill for extra give and comfort.
How much you can expect to spend on Levi’s jeans
The price varies greatly according to size and style. Small sizes in a popular cut can be bought for as little as $30, with a midrange size and style costing around $50. At the expensive end of the scale are some custom fits that retail for $100 or more.
Levi’s jeans FAQ
How can I tell if my Levi’s jeans are genuine?
A. There are a couple of tell-tales that will help you figure it out. First, check the red or orange tab on the right-hand back pocket to make sure that the “e” in Levi’s is lower-case. Fakes are often produced with a capital “E” but the genuine article never is. Next, check the copper buttons for the initials LS&CO-SF. These letters, which mean “Levi Strauss and Co., San Francisco” should be clearly engraved on each button.
Are Levi’s jeans available for big or tall people?
A. Levi’s makes clothing to suit all shapes and sizes, and some of their most popular cuts, such as their 501 and 514 styles, are available with plus-sized waistbands and inseams. You may need to pay a little extra, but the quality and styling are excellent.
What are the best Levi’s jeans to buy?
Top Levi’s jeans
What you need to know: Arguably the world’s most famous style of jeans, the straight-legged, Original Fit 501s were patented in 1873.
What you’ll love: You feel like you are wearing a piece of American history in a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans. Their straight cut looks good with boots, shoes and sneakers and they come in a range of sizes to suit most physiques.
What you should consider: Some people find a button fly overly fiddly as compared to a zipper.
Top Levi’s jeans for the money
What you need to know: These casual classics are always in style, with a straight leg that offers more room than the 501.
What you’ll love: The “relaxed” styling means that they sit low on the hip and are roomier around the thigh and the seat. This makes them less restrictive and ideal for workwear and casualwear alike. They fit well over thermal leggings.
What you should consider: While they are undoubtedly comfortable, this cut is not well-suited to smart dress.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This fashionable style is popular for smart-casual wear and makes a versatile alternative to skinny jeans.
What you’ll love: The slim-fitting 511 jeans have a 2% elastane construction that gives you plenty of room to move and makes them comfortable, despite their tighter cut. They are well-suited to those who lead active lifestyles or are frequently mobile at work.
What you should consider: They will shrink slightly after their first wash.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Luke Mitchell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.