Collage of People Wearing Vintage Jeans

How to Shop For Vintage Jeans

July 10, 2019

There’s a specific kind of joy that comes from finding the perfect pair of vintage jeans (especially when they fit). That just-right faded blue denim tells a story, and it’s easy to daydream about whether your vintage Levi’s® jeans were once at Woodstock or riding horseback in the Wild West – it’s like wearing history. 

If you’re new to vintage clothing and intimidated by the thought of digging through thrift store racks, we’re here to help. Follow our tips below, and you’ll be on your way towards finding your new favorite pair of vintage jeans.

Back Shot of Woman Wearing Vintage Jeans
Vintage Jeans Thrown Over Chair
Black and White Portrait of Man Laughing

  1. Know what you’re looking for.

Before heading to your local vintage or thrift stores, have an idea of what you’re looking for. Whether it’s light or dark wash denim, straight or flared jeans. This way, you’ll spend less time scanning the racks.

  1. What’s my size? 

It’s all about trial-and-error. You might try on ten pairs before finding one that fits, but that’s part of the fun. Ignore modern sizing conventions. Vintage jeans tend to run smaller and sizes may vary depending on the decade they were made. It helps to know your measurements and have a tape measure on hand if there’s no fitting room.

You can also try the old neck trick: wrap the waistband of the jeans around your neck. If the ends meet, then the jeans will likely fit. And keep in mind that vintage denim doesn’t have much stretch, so if they’re too snug, move on to the next pair.

Woman Walking Away Wearing Vintage Jeans
Man Sitting on White Bench Wearing Denim Trucker Jacket
Close-Up of Someone Wearing Jeans and Vans

  1. Make them yours.

If you found a pair you can’t live without but the waist is a little too big or there’s an undesirable tear, don’t worry. Visit a Levi’s® Tailor Shop where our expert tailors can help you repair, alter or patch your vintage jeans. As a general rule of thumb, find a pair that fits the biggest part of your body (thighs and hips), since the waist can always be taken in. 

  1. The difference between thrift and vintage stores. 

Vintage stores are usually curated (and more expensive). Thrift stores generally have more to choose from and range in product quality (and are less expensive). If searching through racks for a hidden gem doesn’t sound fun, a vintage shop is probably your better bet since they’ve done the digging for you.  

If you want to find vintage Levi’s® without the hunt, check out Levi’s®Authorized Vintage, a collection of pre-worn Levi’s® denim found in select stores. You’ll find authentic pieces that are either 100% unaltered or carefully retooled with minimal adjustments by our tailors. 

Don’t forget to share your vintage finds by tagging us @levis and using #liveinlevis. Happy thrifting!

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