Jeans come in so many shapes and sizes that picking just the right style for you can seem overwhelming. When you want a casual pair of sturdy jeans to wear around the house or on a construction site, you may ponder several similar fits of Levi’s jeans. For example, both Levi’s 550 and 505 jeans have a loose style, but what is the difference between them?
The main difference between Levi’s 550 and 505 jeans is that the 550 jeans have a relaxed fit and the 505 jeans have a regular straight fit. Another big difference between the two styles of jeans is that the 550 jeans have more fabric in the leg overall and have a leg opening that measures half an inch larger than the 505. Both styles of jeans provide plenty of room for movement.
In this article, you will learn the key characteristics of the 550 and 505 styles of Levi’s jeans. You learn how other popular Levi’s styles compare to these two cuts. Finally, you will find tips on how to choose the right jeans for you.
What are Levis 550?Levi’s 550 jeans have a relaxed fit cut and a mid-rise waist. This makes them a great choice for anyone who likes loose, comfortable jeans that do not cling to the legs or torso at any point. These jeans include a generous amount of extra denim in the seat and crotch area, so you don’t have to worry about pinching or straining anywhere!
On the other hand, even Levi’s describes these roomy jeans as “slightly baggy.” So if you want a sleek and modern look, you will not enjoy this comfortable style as much.
The company produced this style in the mid-80s, basing it on the hugely popular original 501 style but with extra leg space to nod to current styles. Since 80s fashion focused on boxy styles and loosely cut clothing, it is no surprise that a savvy brand like Levi’s saw this as an opportunity to market a new type of jeans.
Unlike many other 80s fads that faded over time, like enormous hair and giant shoulder pads, Levi’s 550 model gained such popularity that it remains in the brand’s line-up today!
One of the big advantages of the 550 jeans is that they look great on bigger people who have muscled legs, a belly, or just a larger build. Instead of looking as if they hang off you, they will look like they were designed just for your body type!
What are Levis 505?Levi’s 505 jeans have a straight cut and a regular fit. When you think of Levi’s jeans, you probably picture something quite similar to this classic style, which has remained one of the brand’s all-time best sellers since way back in the 60s when it first hit the market. This model featured a zipper fly for the first time in jeans history, too!
These jeans have a mid-rise waist with a classic rise that puts the waistband right around your navel. They feature a pretty good amount of room in the seat and thighs, though not as much as a relaxed-fit style of jeans. They also have straight legs, meaning that the lower leg of the jeans has the same diameter all the way down to the ankle. In this case, that measures 16” for a pair of jeans with a 32” waist.
If you wear a pair of Levi’s 505 jeans, you can expect lots of straight lines. The legs of your jeans will form a straight line and the traditional waist will give your body a more vertical appearance.
These jeans fit pretty loosely compared to a style like a slim or skinny fit but do not contain much extra space like a relaxed fit, either. They will look straight and traditional instead of super stylish or super baggy.
Levi 550 vs 505: Key Points
Check out this chart to get a quick overview of the key characteristics featured by the 550 and 505 styles of jeans!
|Cut||Relaxed Fit||Regular Straight Fit|
|Waist||Around the natural waistline||Around the natural waistline|
|Rise||Mid rise measuring 11 ¼”||Mid rise measuring 11”|
|Seat||Very generous and roomy||Comfortable but not baggy|
|Material||99% cotton, 1% elastane for slight stretch in denim||100% cotton denim|
|Fly||Zip fly||Zip fly|
What Is the Difference Between Levi 550 and 505?
The most obvious difference between Levi’s 550 and 505 jeans is that the 550 has a baggier, relaxed fit cut while the 505 has a regular straight fit with a slightly less roomy shape. You will also note key differences in the leg opening for each style of jeans.
The jeans have some similarities; they both feature a traditional mid-rise waist and a zip fly.
Levi’s 550 and 505 styles of jeans have a pretty obvious difference in cut. If you spread out both pairs of jeans on the floor, one on top of the other, you will quickly notice that the 550 style includes a lot more fabric in its overall shape. The extra denim gives it its popular baggy relaxed-fit cut.
In contrast, the 505 style has a more old-school, classic style of regular straight fit. Don’t expect this style to hug your body because they still include extra wiggle room, but there is no extra fabric to bag out in this cut. Instead, these jeans include a little extra space in the thighs and have a straight-leg style in the lower leg.
Both the 550 and the 505 styles of Levi’s jeans have a waist that lies right around the natural waistline or just above your navel. This traditional-looking waist works well with the loose, comfortable fit of these jeans because a mid-rise waist often looks best on the greatest number of body types.
Low-rise waists look trendy and can work well with certain outfits, but when you wear these, you risk creating a muffin top at your hips. High-rise waists have come back into style in a major way for women’s clothing, particularly in recent years but can still look old-fashioned if not styled carefully. A mid-rise waist gives you that perfect balance of helping you look slimmer and giving you jeans that you can pair with many different styles of clothing.
The 550 and 505 both have a mid-rise waist, though you will find that the 550 has an incrementally higher rise than the 505. Levi’s 550 jeans have a front rise of 11 ¼ inches, while the 505 jeans have a front rise of just 11 inches.
The front rise on pants measures the distance from the crotch seam below the fly to the top edge of the waistband. Essentially, it tells you how far up your torso the waistband of the pants will reach. Eleven inches and 11 ¼ inches puts the waistband at a midpoint right around your natural waistline.
Levi’s 550 and 505 jeans both feature a zip fly, as do most styles of jeans these days. This was a big deal for the 505 jeans, though. In 1967, Levi’s sent shock waves through the fashion world when they introduced the first zipper fly for jeans in the 505 styles.
At the time, people had mixed reactions because everyone had grown used to the button fly, as made famous in Levi’s original 501 styles of jeans. But of course, zippers in jeans quickly gained popularity and now serve as the standard closure for both men’s and women’s jeans from most brands.
The 550 style of jeans features a relaxed fit and the 505 style features a regular fit, but what does that mean exactly? Well, Levi’s sells jeans in several different “fit” categories that describe the overall shape of each type of jeans. These categories include straight, relaxed, loose-fit jeans, bootcut and taper-fit jeans, and skinny and slim-fit jeans.
Every single type of jeans Levi’s sells falls into one of those fit categories, though each style will also have its own unique characteristics.
The 550 falls into the relaxed fit category. This means that it contains much more fabric and has a looser shape than a straight-fit or slim-fit style. However, it does not fit quite as loosely as jeans in the loose-fit category.
The 505 falls into the straight-fit category, though technically, it is also described as a regular fit. The regular-fit description had hung around since the early days when the brand marketed these as jeans for the everyman, perfect to wear for any hardworking occasion. Straight-fit jeans have lower legs that do not taper and have the same diameter all the way down the length of the lower leg.
Levi’s 550 jeans feature denim woven with 99% cotton fibers and 1% of elastane fibers to give the fabric a little stretch. Levi’s 505 jeans, in contrast, typically contain the traditional 100% pure cotton denim.
That said, Levi’s does sell a variation on the traditional 505 called the 505 Stretch, and this does use stretch denim with 1% elastic fibers woven into it. So if you like the more conservative shape of the straight-fit 505, you may want to try the stretch version to get an even more comfortable, flexible pair of jeans in the style you like.
One of the key differences between the 550 and 505 jeans is the measurement of the leg opening. The 550 jeans have a leg opening measuring a generous 16.5 inches, while the 505 jeans have a slightly more conservative leg opening of 16 inches.
To put this in perspective, the smallest leg opening on Levi’s jeans (found in the slim-taper style of the 512 jeans) measures just 12 inches, so 16 inches leaves a lot of space around your ankle!
When you compare a 16-inch and a 16.5-inch leg opening, is there a big difference between them? Yes and no. The extra half-inch does make the legs of the 550 look baggier than the leg opening on the 505.
But the true difference lies in the overall cut of the legs, as the 550 also has much roomier thighs than the 505. This means that the legs of the 550 have an overall bigger shape than the legs of the 505 jeans.
Levi’s 505 jeans traditionally feature 100% cotton denim, while the 550 jeans use stretch denim containing 1% of elastane fibers. If you like a little extra flexibility, you can order a modified version of the 505 called 505 Stretch, featuring stretch denim.
You can buy both styles in a range of different colors and washes as well. The specific color offered through Levi’s online store changes from one year to another.
Right now, you can purchase the classic 505 jeans in 19 different finishes including light, dark, and medium stonewash, shadow garment green, and iron-ore wash. The 550 currently comes in eight different finishes, including Fremont Cafe, Dark Stonewash, and black. If you want a color or finish that you do not see in Levi’s current lineup, you can often find older color options available through sellers on Amazon.
Levi’s 505 works best for people who like a traditional, not-too-tight style of jeans. Though it sounds unflattering, you can think of this cut as the classic “dad jeans” style, perfect for outdoor work or a casual day out.
The 550 has a much baggier and more relaxed fit that works especially well for people with a bigger build who may find more traditional jeans like the 505 too constraining.
What to Wear with These Jeans
Because Levi’s 550 and 505 styles of jeans have such different fits, they work best for different kinds of outfits.
The 550, with its loose, relaxed shape, will work best for very casual settings or for wearing while working outside. You may find it hard to dress up these baggy jeans with anything more formal than a t-shirt or hoodie.
The 505 can work for a casual style, especially if you fold up the cuffs to wear with sneakers and a hoodie. But you can also dress them up with an outfit like a leather jacket and nice boots. The generous leg opening of the 505 allows you to easily wear boots with these jeans.
But the 505 would not look great paired with a blazer and a nice shirt, as you could do with slim-fit jeans. It does not have a trendy, modern vibe but embraces more comfortable and classic air.
Are Levi’s 505 Baggy?
Levi’s 505 jeans do not look baggy, though they have a comfortable fit that leaves plenty of room for movement. Compared to a skinny or slim-fit style of jeans, the 505 might appear to have pretty wide legs.
In contrast, Levi’s 550 jeans look a bit baggy because they have a generous amount of denim in the seat and thighs. While not quite the baggiest of Levi’s styles, the relaxed fit style of the 550 does make it pretty large overall.
Do Levi’s 505 Shrink When Washed?
Most versions of Levi’s 505 jeans use preshrunk cotton so they will not shrink noticeably when washed. That said, the brand does recommend washing your jeans in cold water and letting them air dry. This standard care recommendation prevents lots of fading from dye bleeding into hot water and removes almost all danger of shrinking as the heat and friction in the dryer causes cotton to shrink dramatically.
The only exception to this rule is certain types of Levi’s jeans made from raw denim. Some customers still prefer this more old-fashioned type of denim fabric that has not gone through special treatments to prevent it from shrinking. This allows the jeans to shrink to fit your body more precisely, but curing raw denim takes time and skill.
You may find it a safer bet to buy regular 505 jeans and wash them in cold water to keep them in the right size.
How Can You Tell if Levi’s 550 are Vintage?
Levi’s first produced the 550 style of jeans in the late 1980s, meaning that none of these jeans have a truly vintage or valuable history. You also can’t use any of the normal clues featured in older styles of Levi’s jeans to date the 550s because they are so new. For example, many Levi’s jeans made before the 1970s featured a red tag with an uppercase letter “E” in the Levi stamped into the tag.
But you can find older 550 jeans made in the 80s by searching online or in thrift stores. One clue you can search for on older 550 jeans is to see if there is a tiny “Made in the USA” stamped on the leather tag or the paper care label inside the jeans. Before the 2000s, Levi’s manufactured these jeans within the US, so that does at least narrow down your time frame!
Levi’s 550 Compared to Similar Styles
If you like 550 jeans, you may want to consider other Levi’s jeans that have some similarities.
What is the Difference Between Levi’s 550 and 501?
The main difference between Levi’s 550 and 501 jeans is that the 550 style has a much more relaxed and generous fit than the classic 501, which has the original regular straight fit.
But you will also note some key similarities between the 550 and 501. Both jeans are comfortable and slightly boxy, and both work best for active wear instead of stylish outfits. In fact, Levi’s 550 should look a bit like the 501, as it offers a modern update on the classic cut.
Levi’s 550 Vs 541
Levi’s 550 and 541 jeans provide extra fabric in the fit, perfect for people with larger or athletic body types. The 550 has a relaxed fit, while the 541 has an athletic fit with extra room in the upper leg but tapered lower legs.
If you struggle to fit into slim-fit jeans because you have muscled legs, you may want to try the 541 to get that extra space in the seat and thighs while maintaining a modern, slim lower leg for style.
Levi’s 550 Vs 551
Levi’s 550 and 551 jeans offer a relaxed fit with plenty of room for easy movement. But the 550 has a basic relaxed fit with slightly stretchy denim, while the new version of the 551 uses special Wellthread denim with a more environmentally friendly production process. Overall the 551 also has a slightly slimmer fit but uses an “anti-fit” style in the seat and thighs for more comfort.
Levi’s 550 Vs 559
Levi’s 550 and 559 have a relaxed fit, but the 559 features a relaxed straight fit with a low-rise waist for a slightly more trendy appearance. While the 550 has a classic mid-rise waist, the 559 styles a low-rise waist with a front rise measurement of just 10 ⅜ inches. The 559 styles also do not use stretch denim unless you purchase a Stretch 559 model.
Levi’s 505 Compared to Similar Styles
If you like the classic comfort of Levi’s 505 jeans, you may want to check out a few similar styles as well!
What is the Equivalent of Levi’s 505?
The best equivalent for Levi’s 505 jeans is the 504, 501, or 541 models. The 504 looks quite similar to the 505, except that it has more tapered legs and an overall more mod appearance. The 541 has a looser fit than the 505 in the seat and thighs but the same idea of classic comfort for the bigger man.
And, of course, you can always compare Levi’s 505 to the original 501.
Levi’s 501 Vs 505
The biggest difference between Levi’s 501 and 505 jeans is that the 501 has less room in the thigh but a larger leg opening, while the 505 has more room in the upper leg but less in the leg opening. The 505 served as a sort of modern update on the 501 in the 1960s, featuring the first zipper fly in contrast to the button fly on the 501 and more space in the thighs to provide additional comfort.
The 505 also has a slightly slimmer leg opening of 16 inches compared to the more generous 17-inch leg opening in the 501.
But both jeans have a mid-rise waist and a straight leg below the knee. Both serve as classic, traditional jean styles that remain popular to this day.
What is the Most Popular Style of Levi’s?
Levi’s Original 501 style consistently hangs onto its spot as the most popular model, despite its long history! First sold in the late 1800s as the first popular style of jeans and the first-ever pants to use metal rivets for extra support, this famous style of jeans achieved worldwide popularity that it continues to hold onto after over a decade.
Other super-popular styles of Levi’s include the 505, 504, 510, 512, and 541, based on the number of each model that sells each year.
The main difference between Levi’s 550 and 505 styles of jeans is that the 550 has a relaxed fit and a wider leg opening, and the 505 jeans have a regular straight fit and a slightly more narrow leg opening. The 550 jeans include so much extra space in the seat and thighs that you may find the fit a bit baggy. The 505 jeans offer a comfortable amount of space in the thighs but much less than the 550.
Despite the differences in overall shape and fit, the 550 and 505 do share some similarities as well. They both feature a mid-rise waist and both work well for anyone who likes to wear a comfortable, roomy pair of jeans for a casual outfit.