Anyone who has shopped a bigger-box brand knows it can be hard to figure out where to begin. There are dozens upon dozens of options that all seem as worthy as the next, but the reality is that products from any given brand are not all created equal. When you shop as regularly as we do, you learn that many brands just do some things better than they do other things. Levi’s, with more than 400 styles of jeans alone (in nearly as many washes), is one of those brands — its expansive inventory of denim, whether wide-leg, high-rise, or skinny-fit, must be carefully picked through to find the perfect pair. To make it a little easier, we’ve sifted through our archives to put together a list of the Levi’s garments that celebrity stylists, denim experts, podcasters, plus-size models, stylish teens, and other cool people (including our writers and editors) have recommended on the Strategist. Since these products come in various colors and washes, we’ve tried to include two retailers wherever possible to offer the maximum selection.
The Wedgie High-Rise Jeans are not only one of the most recommended pairs of Levi’s we’ve written about, but one of the most recommended pairs of women’s jeans in general. Their high waist and tapered legs are two universally flattering details that stand out to almost everyone who’s told us about the jeans, but those are not the only reasons women love them. “They make my butt look good and are comfortable and easy to throw on,” according to Strategist deputy editor Maxine Builder, who says the slightly cropped Wedgies are her “go-to, everyday jeans.” Le Whit co-founder Liza Curtiss loves them, too (particularly in black). “They hit well and always show off my favorite boots,” says Curtiss, who notes the jeans also have deep pockets. They’re also a favorite among teens. “I tend to go for the Wedgie,” says influencer Lola Keyser, who describes the jeans as “a mom-style pair.”
Just as beloved as the pair above, Levi’s Wedgie Straight Jeans have, well, a straighter leg than their tapered sister. “They’re popular because they fit you like you want old 501s to fit,” explains Bird clothing founder Jennifer Mankins: A “perfect straight leg, but with a bit more of a generous, modern cut.” She describes the rise as “high, but not too high,” and the jeans have a subtle stretch that Madewell designer Joyce Lee says makes them “super comfortable … without losing an authentic vintage look.” Dianna Cohen, the founder of hair-care line Crown Affair, calls the Wedgie Straight Jeans a daily staple, even for working from home. “It’s the only pair I’ve worn frequently at home during quarantine — they’re almost as comfy as sweatpants,” she promises. “They look as great on when they’re still tight and just out of the wash as they do once they’re more worn and loosen up through the week.” Celebrity stylist Ali Levine describes their relaxed fit as modern while “still hitting the right notes for a mom jean,” and Richer Poorer brand director Allie Greenberg adds that, with 26- and 28-inch inseam options, they’re “great for shorties like me.”
The Plus-Size Wedgie Jeans are a favorite of model Felicity Hayward, who told us that they are unbeatable when it comes to style and quality. She describes the sizing in one word — “perfect” — and adds that the jeans “can be paired with sneakers for a more casual look, or with some pointed stilettos to elongate those lovely legs.”
The 315 Shaping Boot Cut Jeans are another favorite among plus-size women, with model Yasmin Geurts calling the style her “everyday go-to for work.” She says that they “come in right at my belly button and suck in everything,” adding that the flared legs “actually balance all my curves.” Geurts also loves the jeans’ wider back pockets, telling us they make her butt “look great” because of the way the pockets “fan out to the side a little.”
“It took me 34 years, but I finally tracked down the perfect jean,” designer Susan Alexandra says of these oversize, relaxed-fit jeans that she notes “are often sold out” (a telling sign of their popularity). They’re a “wardrobe staple,” she adds, as well as a convincing dupe for vintage denim. “I had mine nipped in the waist to give them that perfect ‘I got these at a flea market in Berlin’ look.” College student Sylvie Nelson also swears by Levi’s Women’s Dad Jeans, calling them an essential part of her “comfortable stay-at-home uniform that still makes me feel cute.”
“They shape you out and hold you in place without creating rolls,” model Essie Golden says of the mid-rise 310 Shaping Super Skinny Jeans. “These also make my butt feel good and create tummy control, which I appreciate.” Golden has worn hers for two or three years, telling us they haven’t developed any holes in the thigh area (a common problem she has with other brands).
When it comes to skinny jeans, both our own Builder and Rachel Bullock, a co-founder of outdoor-furniture company Laun, opt for Levi’s 501 Stretch Skinny Jeans. “[They’re] the skinniest jeans I wear these days,” says Builder, who prefers them in black and “appreciates that they have a little bit of stretch.” Bullock, who also likes them in black, adds that the jeans are polished enough for an office but durable enough to wear in the field. “When I know I’m going to be on an especially dirty job site or welding, I’ll stick with these,” she says. “They just feel more indestructible.”
According to writer Diana McCorry, Levi’s 720 High Rise Super Skinny Jeans strike a very happy medium: They have enough stretch “to avoid that nasty tummy compression” but enough shape to “create a great silhouette when you stand up.” They’re also good for those who often have problems with waist gaps, as McCorry finds these jeans to be only “a little loose in the waist, but not quite enough to necessitate a belt.”
“The closest I’ll ever get to love at first sight” is how Strategist writer Jenna Milliner-Waddell describes Levi’s Mile High Super Skinny Jeans. Details she fell for include the fact that they don’t gap at the waist and how they stretch “just enough” to get them over the hips, but still have a vintage-y “rigid-denim feel.” While stretchy, Milliner-Waddell assures these won’t stretch out, telling us the waist remains “as tight as it was the day I bought them.” Artist Lucy Litman, who’s five-foot-eight, adds that these are a great pair of jeans for tall women. They have “the perfect amount of stretch and come with an option for an extended length,” she explains, noting that the higher rise is “perfect if you have a longer torso like me.”
While this classic style of Levi’s jeans is a bit more popular among men, it still has its female fans — one of whom is celebrity stylist Karla Welch (who has collaborated with Levi’s on capsule collections). “I’ve been wearing this style of Levi’s since I was 12 years old, when I stole a pair from my brother, which I still have,” Welch told us, adding that, like many pairs on this list, these relaxed-fit jeans only get better with wear and age. These are also a hit among teens, with one girl saying 501s would be the style she’d choose if she could only own a single pair of jeans. Another teen girl describes the fit as “perfect,” with a third adding that the style is also the “best fit” for plus-size girls, too.
Strategist senior editor Casey Lewis owns the shorts version of Levi’s 501 Women’s Jeans, saying they’re a great alternative to a full-length pair when working from home. “Although I was tempted by the Ribcage and Wedgie fits, I ultimately went with the classic (and less constricting) 501s,” says Lewis, who got hers in a size up so that they’d be “extra comfy.” (She also bought the longer knee-length version so she could further cut them herself.) Strategist contributor Maria Dueñas-Jacobs, the founder of kids’ jewelry brand Super Smalls, has also recommended 501 shorts (though she prefers buying them vintage than new): “Like jeans, I can never get enough.”
Levi’s Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans — the “Goldilocks of jeans,” as we like to call them — are beloved by Strategist editor Alexis Swerdloff as well as by Builder, who describes the rise as “deliriously high, easily clearing my belly button,” but promises that they don’t “feel uncomfortable when I sit.” Swerdloff agrees, describing them as “stiff without being too constricting” and having “just the right amount of flare.” The wash, adds Swerdloff, is “worn-in without trying too hard.” This pair has younger fans, too: Teen Claudia Perez calls them her “soul-mate jeans” because they’re “comfortable and fashionable and perfect to lounge in.”
As we noted above, guys really love Levi’s 501s. Garnering praise from denim experts, writers, podcasters, and Chris Black, they are without a doubt the most recommended pair of men’s jeans we’ve written about to date. “If we’re going to talk about jeans that every man should have in their closet, a pair of good-old Levi’s” is a must, according to denim expert and writer Amy Leverton, who calls the relaxed-fit 501s the gold standard of men’s denim. Former Strategist writer David Notis is also a fan, calling out the jeans’ “strong hardware and 100 percent cotton” material, which he says is non-stretch and therefore tends to hold its shape better as the jeans age. Jeremy Kirkland, the host of men’s style podcast Blamo!, swears by 501s, too, saying their high rise makes them easier to dress up. “I’ve always been a fan of higher-rise jeans versus the lower-rise pairs because I wear tailoring and sport coats, so it helps to wear something totally high.” Summing it all up, 501 fan Black says the jeans are “perfect for every occasion.”
“Skinny but not skintight” is how Netflix brand and editorial manager Alex Simons describes the fit of these jeans. He promises they’re “comfortable from the moment you put them on” and that they have the “perfect amount of pocket space.” Simmons adds that he was a “fancy-jeans guy for years,” opting for pricier pairs from brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs until he tried these on and, as he puts it, “never looked back.”
“The Levi’s 511 is to slim-fit jeans as the 501 is to straight-fit jeans: a standard-bearer,” says Notis. Menswear writer Tim Melideo agrees, telling us that the not-as-skinny Levi’s 511s are a staple in his wardrobe. Stylist Brandon Garr likes these, too — especially their price, which he says allows him to “be a little bit more daring in them because I don’t have to worry as much about the replacement cost if they get a little roughed up.”
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