Ask Valet.Shrinkage Fears
  • I want a pair of raw Levi's 501s, but I know they're supposed to shrink. Do I wash them before wearing? Or buy a size up?

    - Sean, Philadelphia

  • "Fit is as inherent to denim as it was when we invented the blue jean back in 1873," says Brett Anderson, of Levi's. "The general rule of thumb with our Shrink-to-Fit fabric is to buy the jean 1 to 2 inches up in the waist and 2 to 3 inches longer in the inseam." So for a 32x32, he suggests trying a 33x34. "Before wearing them, I'd wash them by hand in warm water, without soap. Soak for at least 15 minutes, moving the jean periodically to prevent the settling of the dyes." He did, of course, remind us there are many who buy the 501s in their exact size and simply never wash them.

    $46, at Levi's



In 1936, Levi's began sewing red tabs onto the back pocket to distinguish the jeans from imitators.

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