Levi’s Shrink-To-Fit 501s or: How I Ended Up Taking A Bath In My Jeans.
I can never find jeans that fit. Chances are, neither can you. I’ve tried everything along the price spectrum, and while I can generally say that expensive jeans fit better than cheap jeans, even $200 pairs come with their own set of problems (getting jeans hemmed is probably worthy of its own blog post).
Which is how I came to have an intimate bathing experience with a pair of Levi’s Shrink-To-Fit 501s.
Levi’s STF 501s are the original blue jeans, first patented in 1873. They are the no-nonsense jeans of gold prospectors and coal miners. No pre-whiskering or perfectly-placed rips, no pocket flaps, no Ed Hardy embroidery or bedazzlement. Just raw heavyweight denim, dark as night and stiff as a board, punctuated by gleaming copper rivets. The American denim archetype, available for ~$30 at your local department store. They also don’t fit very fit well. That’s where the bath comes in.
You see, to get these to fit properly, you need to take a hot bath in them. As they soak and subsequently air-dry, the denim shrinks to your body, leaving you with (by all accounts) the best-fitting pair of jeans you’ve ever owned. Once they’re dry, you wear them as often as possible. By the time you wash them—denim nazis suggest you wait 6–12 (!) months—you will have what amounts to a custom pair of jeans, complete with a genuine wear pattern. Not bad for $30 and a few hours of damp, indigo-stained embarrassment. I’m only a few weeks into my pair, and I have to say, they fit pretty well. I even convinced the notoriously fashion-phobic Nate to buy a pair, although I suspect it had more to do with the price tag than anything.