An Ode to Levi's 501s, the Biggest Denims Of All Time


I feel everybody who cares about model has a holy grail—a bit they're drawn to above all others as a result of it makes them really feel like the good, sexiest, or strongest model of themselves.

Like something that guarantees transformation, discovering that grail can strategy obsession. I’ve associates who've crammed vanities with pink lipsticks and will ship a TED Speak on the deserves of MAC's shiny Ruby Woo versus NARS's velvety matte Purple Lizard. My former roommate used to deposit $50 from each paycheck into her Chanel Fund (solely 100 paychecks between her and that Medium Flap bag!). I too have a grail merchandise. Although mine is humble, ubiquitous, and doesn't typically require a financial savings plan.

Let me inform you about my timeless love for Levi's 501 jean.

PHOTO: Getty

As with many infatuations that gripped me in my youth, I’ve Morrissey responsible. The straight-cut medium-rise 501s had been universally worn by all of the adults I'd grown up round, together with my tomboy mother and all her coworkers on the machine store the place she labored—however it wasn't till I noticed my then-idol Moz warbling "Heaven Is aware of I'm Depressing Now" in his signature outfit (tortoiseshell glasses, thrifted ladies's shirt, 501s with a again pocket stuffed with gladioli) that I spotted these denims had relevance past the manufacturing facility flooring.

As a sheltered 14-year-old in western New York, I couldn't relate to Moz's tales of romantic angst in gloomy Manchester or "giddy London." However I might go straight to my nearest suburban mall and purchase these denims. And I did.

PHOTO: Getty

In my 501s, I out of the blue had the proper canvas on which to challenge the burgeoning components of my character, which I explored by means of model. After I was feeling beatnik-y, I wore them with slim black turtlenecks and glossy cordovan loafers, my pocket book stuffed with angsty Plath-ripoff poetry showily stuffed within the again pocket. After I found Prada, I paired them with a sequence of seventies-tastic thrifted males's shirts and loud silk ties. After I needed to really feel like a cool skater woman (uh, minus the skateboard), out got here my blue Previous-Skools and saggy tees.

They had been the proper anchor for any look: stable, flattering, complementary, comfy. The truth that they'd been embraced by each subculture, from bikers and Beats to punks and grunge youngsters, made them wealthy with that means in a means not like every other garments I had entry to in my smallish hometown—earlier than Web purchasing was a factor. Sporting my boyish, straight-cut 501s made me really feel thrillingly totally different in a sea of late-nineties wide-leg denim.

PHOTO: Getty

Over time, as I gained consolation with my grown-up form, I began carrying them minimize nearer to my physique—the Puerto Rican "bubble butt" and thighs my private-school classmates generally joked about. That felt like revolt, an embrace of who I used to be, from my genes to my working-class roots.

I feel that's a part of their attraction too. These are clothes not solely constructed to be labored onerous and final, however universally acknowledged to look higher with age: the wavy blue oceanic strains that type on the backs of the knees, the way in which the seat of a well-loved pair is sanded to velvet, the way in which the indigo dye mellows to cornflower blue. (Scripting this truly made my mouth water.)

PHOTO: Getty

Rips, stains, fading, bedraggled hems—the sorts of issues that will horrify folks in the event that they occurred to a costume or a prized purse—are universally acknowledged to make denims cooler. That was a distinction that mattered to me again when 501s had been the most costly merchandise in my closet. Even now, a brand-new pair of girls's 501s will value you about $90; a good more-prized classic pair may be had at nearly any Salvation Military or Beacon's Closet for below $20. When you personal them, it's 'til loss of life do you half. Levi's 501s don't simply appear and feel good—they act as an antidote to disposable style, a bit of style historical past that anybody can personal.

PHOTO: Getty

Even now, I put on my 501s extra days of the week than not. Most not too long ago I wore them to a pal's party. It was on a day I actually didn't need to go away the home, so I put collectively essentially the most presentably low-effort outfit I might consider: my 501s, an oversize thrifted Brooks Brothers striped shirt, leopard-print flats, a silk scarf tied in my hair, and a basket bag folks routinely mistake for Cult Gaia however is definitely five-year-old Goal. It was a super-basic outfit that nonetheless collected compliments of the "you're such a French woman!" selection. Belief me once I say I've worn a variation on the identical outfit a thousand instances, and nobody goes out of their technique to praise it once I put on plain outdated skinny denims.

PHOTO: Getty

A lot the way in which my beauty-obsessed associates can immediately spot a pink lipstick with a blue or orange undertone, I've developed an uncanny knack for ID'ing these denims. I generally joke that my superpower is scanning a thrift-store denim rack stuffed with mid-aughts monstrosities with bedazzled again pockets and plucking out real-deal, pre-1982 classic selvage 501s. What can I say, they name to me.

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