I Finally Found a Vintage Levi’s Alternative

levis jeans amelia

There is an episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte, feeling completely over the whole looking-for-love thing, says something to the effect of: “I have been dating since I was 16 and I am sick of it!”

That’s exactly how I felt the moment I realized I’d been looking for the elusive “perfect pair” of vintage Levi’s 501s for exactly two years too. And then a pair of new Levi’s changed all that. The Wedgie jean. We’ll get there. (This is non-spon! I am just passionate!)

Vintage Levi’s 501s looked like the answer to all my denim problems. I wanted a high waist, but was so sick of the skinny tapered leg. I didn’t want stretch fabric. I wasn’t into dark rinses. I wanted this pair of dream jeans to be thick and sturdy, to wear well forever, to never need washing, to get better with age and to work with beautiful blouses and heels just as well as with white tees and sneakers.

But what they ended up doing was proposing a new problem: Vintage Levi’s 501 jeans looked terrible on me.

All the pairs that I found seemed to be made for people with long limbs and those whose waist circumferences matched the thigh-and-butt-size of their jeans without creating a strange back gap.

Here’s me doing the knee-bend test. Because I have short legs, my knees never seem to properly line up with the knee holes. These worked!

My body type, meanwhile, is short (5’3″). I have short legs, thick thighs, a much larger butt in comparison to my waist, a long torso and two arms for yanking up stiff denim. Throughout the years, I tried on a million pairs in a million hot, sweaty dressing rooms and never found my The One’s. I gave up one fateful day and accepted that vintage Levi’s 501s were just not for me.

Last summer, I fell in love with a pair of Moussy jeans that scratched all my itches and then some. I do still think those are one of the greatest pairs of jeans ever, but they aren’t without their faults: they’re still too long for me to wear with a flat shoe, and they’re expensive.

OH my god are you bored of this story yet? We’re getting there.

I’ll spare you the extended version of this anecdote but in June, I came across Levi’s Wedgie Selvedge Straight Jeans in “Lost Inside,” a very dramatic name for a color. I thought they were vintage when I saw them then was delighted to find out they were new, meaning: there were actual “sizes” (24-32) to try on rather than non-sizes that require you do that weird test where you see if the waistband wraps around your neck to rough-estimate. To my delight, these ones fit true to size for me, and I loved the super snug look and stiff feel.

I will warn that these Wedgies, perhaps hence the name, are not fun jeans to sit in and work all day, but they’re great for dinner, going out, etc. Another flag: If you love a waistband to cinch in right on top of your belly-button like Haley, who tried the same pair of Levi’s Wedgies too, these jeans won’t totally do that. They sit just below the belly hole. They’re undoubtedly high waist, but not the same as, say, a pair of Kamm pants. They were not high enough for Haley’s button! As for price: they’re $158, which is by no means cheap, but it is half the price of the Moussy jeans.

If you’re on the hunt for something similar, know that there isn’t just one type of Wedgie (I’ll say). I haven’t tried the others, but:

For $98, there’s the Levi’s Wedgie Fit Straight Jeans. These are a thinner fabric than the “selvedge” ones. They come in a variety of equally dramatically named colors, vary where ankle detailing and rips are concerned, and also come in sizes 24-32.

You also have the Levi’s Wedgie Fit Jeans with a tapered leg, which Nora tried. She’s in size-limbo right now, so she sized up, and though she kept sticking her foot through the pre-made holes, she said she liked the fit of these jeans.

The Levi’s Wedgie Fit also comes in plus sizes (16-24), with a tapered leg and high waist. These ones are on sale for $57.99.

Back to the pair I was originally blathering on about, the Levi’s Wedgie Selvedge Straight Jeans in “Lost Inside”: I am so into these jeans that part of me has that anxious feeling that maybe I should buy another pair right now, just in case they stop making them. Maybe I should venture out and try another similar Wedgie style? Who knows. For now I am busy working these jeans into as many outfits as possible without sweating to death in August.

What about you? Any 501 alternatives we the community need to know about right this second??

Photos provided by Amelia and Nora.

Amelia Diamond

Amelia Diamond

Amelia Diamond is a writer, creative consultant, and Man Repeller alumnus living in New York City.

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