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Levi’s 501 vs 505 Jeans: What is the Difference?

Levi’s 501 and 505 jeans are some of the most popular jean styles of all time, featuring a classic straight-leg cut. But these days, you can buy thousands of different kinds of jeans, all with slight style variations. To help you choose the perfect fit for you, check out this comparison of Levi’s 501 vs 505!

The main difference between Levi’s 501 and 505 jeans is that the 505 features a wider thigh and a looser fit. Both the 501 and 505 jeans have straight-cut legs below the knee with a narrow leg opening. The 501 usually has a button fly, while the 505 always has a zipper closure.

In this article, you will find out what makes the 501 and 505 jeans so iconic. You will learn about all the differences between these two cuts of jeans. Finally, you will find out how the 501 and 505 compare to other popular Levi’s styles.

Popular Levi’s 501 Jeans

Popular Levi’s 505 Jeans

Levis 501 vs 505 Jeans

Levi’s 501 vs 505 Jeans: Key Points

CutOriginal straight fit legRegular fit straight leg
WaistHigh waist, sits at waistHigh waist, sits at waist
Leg Opening16”/17”16.5”
SeatComfortably looseComfortably loose
Material100% cotton
Non-stretch Denim
99% Cotton, 1% Elastane
Stretch Denim
FlyButton closureZipper closure

What Are Levi’s 501 Jeans?

What Are Levis 501 Jeans

Levi’s 501 style has a long history as the first type of jeans ever sold, way back in 1890! This classic straight-legged jean remains one of Levi’s most popular styles today. The 501 features sturdy denim, classic straight legs, a 16”/17” leg opening, the traditional five pockets, and a button fly.

The 501 famously fits the working man and has been worn by everyone from gold miners to authentic cowboys to modern construction workers for almost 150 years.

Some elements that made Levi’s jeans so different from other pants include bar tacking, multiple close stitches grouped together, and rivets. Rivets, the tiny metal rivets clamped onto stress points in jeans, make the garment much stronger and more durable. Levi Strauss patented the idea of those tiny round metal rivets and used them for the first time on the 501 jeans!

As a fun fact, the five-pocket style has two pockets in the back and three in the front of the pants, including one tiny pocket that used to hold a man’s pocket watch!

Over time, the width of the leg opening has varied in the 501. Today’s 501 has a narrow leg opening than it used to, as the pant leg falls straight from the knee to the ankle. That said, the overall fit of this style is quite loose, with a comfortable seat and room in the thighs.

Levi’s continues to sell the iconic 501 style today, though it does not precisely fit the current fashion trend for more tightly fitted clothing. Some fashion experts refer to this classic style as a “dad jean” style. On the other hand, if you want to wear jeans for actual physical labor, you will want a 501 over skinny jeans any day!

Today, you can buy Levi’s 501 in several style variations like shrink-to-fit, which uses raw denim, stretch denim that contains a tiny portion of elastic, or premium denim that costs a bit more. As you will see later in the article, you can also select from various colors in this iconic jean style.

What Are Levi’s 505 Jeans?

What Are Levis 505 Jeans

First released in 1967, the 505 was the first pair of Levi’s to feature a zipper! The 505 has its own unique flair but shares some strong similarities with the classic 501. For instance, it also sits right at the waist and has straight legs. While the 501 is called the “original straight fit,” the 505 gets termed a “regular fit straight leg” style, which sounds quite similar.

However, the 505 tends to have more space in the thighs, making the 505 jean style even better for physical labor or extensive movement. The downside to this looser cut is that you may find the 505 a bit baggy and less-than-trendy by modern fashion standards.

Of course, the zipper in place of a button also marks a big difference between the two styles!

Though not quite as revered as the 501, the 505 also has a dedicated following and has its own lengthy history by now as well.

One of the great things about the straight leg that falls from the hip through the ankle on the 505 is that it accommodates pretty much all body types. If you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious in a slim fit or skinny cuts, you may want to embrace the 505 with its classic, welcoming shape!

Currently, Levi’s continues to sell the 505 jean style for the same price as the 501. You can find the loose, practical 505 jean style in several different kinds of denim and a variety of colors.

What’s the Difference Between Levi’s 501 and 505?

Difference Between Levis 501 and 505

The main difference between Levi’s 501 and 505 jean styles is that the 505 features a wider thigh area and has a zipper fly instead of a button. Because of these key differences, Levi’s 501 and 505 are not exactly the same.

That said, they do share many similarities. In some ways, the release of the 505 jean style in the 1960s celebrated Levi’s history’s classic roots by updating the original 501 jean look.

Here is a breakdown of how these two famous kinds of jeans compare to each other.


Levi’s 501 and 505 jeans have straight-cut legs that do not taper from the knee to the ankle. That said, the 505 style offers just a bit more room in the thigh area of the pant leg.

Adding extra fabric into the legs makes it easier to move in any kind of pants, especially pants made out of thick fabric like denim. On the other hand, you may find that this additional fabric causes the denim to sag through wear and tear in the thigh area.


Levis 505 vs 501

Both the 501 and 505 feature a comfy, not-too-snug waist fit.

You can buy Levi’s 501 and 505 jeans in any waist size, though the company suggests that you buy these classic styles in your true waist size and then let them shrink to fit your lower body. Alternatively, you can also buy pre-shrunk versions in either style and in this case, you also want to select your true waist size.


Both the 501 and 505 jeans have a classic waist with an 11” rise that sits high at your actual waist, exactly as it did way back in 1890. However, this look may not align with modern fashion trends, but it sure does make for a practical style when you have to bend over to get something out of the toolbox on a construction site!


The biggest difference between the 501 and the 505 jeans is the fly closure. The classic 501 style features a button closure, mostly because it debuted before zippers had been invented! The 505, not released until the 1960s, has a more modern zipper.

You may find that you prefer the button closure, despite its old-fashioned style. The button fly does not get that worn or faded zipper line like the zipper fly on a 505 jean style. Of course, most of us have zippers on all of our pants today, so you may prefer the convenience of the 505 zippers, too!


Levi’s 501 jean features a classic regular fit, while Levi’s 505 offers a straight fit, sometimes called a regular straight fit. This means that both styles have loose, non-tapered pant legs and offer a loose seat and a waist that sits at your waist.

Of course, as you know by now, the main difference in fit is that the 505 has more room in the hip and thighs and then falls into that straight leg below the knee.


Originally, neither the 501 or 505 styles of jeans had any stretch. Today, though, you can buy versions of both types of jeans that come with a small percentage of elastic fibers woven into the denim. This provides a hint of giving in the jeans and makes them even more comfortable and convenient for active use like hiking or outdoor work.

The stretch-jean version of the 501 0r 505 will contain anywhere from one to three percent of a fiber called elastane, a generic version of Spandex.

Leg Opening

Levis 505 mens

The 501 jean style usually has a 16/17” leg opening, while the 505 has a 16.5” leg opening. Both styles feature a traditional straight leg that feels pretty roomy compared to a slim fit or skinny fit jeans. Neither style has tapered legs and you probably would not even notice the tiny difference in leg opening if you wore both the 501 and 505 styles to compare them.


The classic Levi’s 501 uses 100% cotton in the traditional blue-and-white denim twill weave. The 505 traditionally also uses this 100% cotton denim, but it also comes in a popular stretch-denim version that contains about 1% of elastane fibers.

Either way, these classic jean styles offer sturdy, high-quality denim that will hold up for many years, especially if you follow the company’s advice and wash the jeans after every ten times you wear them.

Best for

Because of the roomy, classic fit of the 501 and 505 jean styles, you will find these jeans best for casual events, physical labor, or outdoor work. These jeans definitely will not look great for classy or formal occasions. You should wear them for hard work–after all, that is what Levi Strauss designed them for originally!

What to Wear with These Jeans

Because the 501 and 505 jean styles share the same high waist and loose leg opening, you can pretty much wear the same type of clothing with both kinds of jeans.

A few fashion trends you may want to pair with these pants include:

  • A classic t-shirt, left loose to hide the high waist. If you want to try to dress up these jeans, you can pair your tee with a loose-fitting, long blazer as well!
  • A hoodie for an urban and casual style. Or you can wear your favorite grubby old hoodie for a rougher, at-home look!
  • For women, you can dress up any type of jeans by pairing them with high heels.
  • Try wearing a vintage t-shirt, a leather jacket, and black boots with your 501 or 505 jeans for an out-on-the-town style.

Jeans Similar to Levi’s 501

If you find Levi’s traditional 501 jeans a little stiff or old-fashioned, you may want to try Levis 511 style. This much more modern version has a slim fit cut but contains more elastic, making these jeans much stretchier and easier to move in. Plus, you can rock a trendy style with the closer-fitting seat and legs in the 511.

Of course, you can also find quite similar jean styles from many other brands if you want to look outside of the world of Levi’s jeans. For workwear, you may want to look at brands such as Carhartt or Wrangler. For fashionable, trendy jeans, you can find a style to suit any body type from brands like the Gap to Calvin Klein to Guess to Lucky Brand.

Levi 505 Jeans Color Codes

Every pair of Levi’s jeans has a special four-digit code that indicates the shade of dye or finishes used, and most jeans like the 505 come in various colors. You can find the color code of your Levi’s jeans on the care label sewn inside each pair of jeans or in the product description online.

The four-digit color code gives the company an easy shorthand to indicate the color and finish of each pair of jeans, Some of the most popular color codes you will see for the 501 and 505 jeans include 4886, meaning a dark stonewash, 0216 meaning a darker color, and 0117 for stretch denim.

Levi 505 Regular Fit vs Straight Fit

Levi 505 regular fit vs straight fit

The main difference between Levi’s 505 regular fit and a 505 straight fit is that the version has a slightly tapered leg and a bigger thigh area.

Levi’s 505 jeans originally featured a straight fit, meaning that the overall shape of the legs from hip to ankle does not taper much and sits just a little closer to the body than a regular fit.

Today, you can also buy Levi’s 505 in a regular fit style. This offers more room in the hip and thigh area than the typical straight-fit style. The regular fit version also has an incrementally smaller leg opening of just 16”, meaning the legs may have a slightly tapered look.

Were Levi’s 505 Regular Fit Jeans Discontinued?

Levi’s sells both the straight fit and regular fit version of its 505 styles today. It does seem that the brand temporarily discontinued the straight fit when it released the 505 regular fits, but this did not get a positive reaction. Because of that, Levi’s now offers straight and regular fits in its 505 styles.

You can buy these styles straight from Levi’s on the company website or from various sellers on Amazon or similar online sellers.

How Do Levi’s 501 and 505 Compare to Other Styles?

Levi’s jeans come in many different styles these days, and each version, like the 501 and 505, have their unique characteristics. Check out this quick overview to get an idea of how other popular Levi’s styles compare to the 501 and 505!

Levi’s 501 vs 502

While the 501 offers a traditional high-rise waist and straight leg, the 502 gets much trendier with a low-rise waist and tapered legs that shrink down to a 14.5” leg opening. It still offers a roomy seat, hip and thigh area, though!

You may prefer the 502 if you want a more fitted silhouette in the lower leg or a more modern waist. If you want comfortable jeans but not the “dad jean” appearance, you may like the 502 better than the 501.

Levi’s 501 vs 511

Levi’s 501 and 511 jean styles have a lot of big differences, including the overall fit. The 501 has a classic straight fit, while the 511 has a slim fit and a low-rise waist.

Despite the big differences in style, you will often the 511 recommended as the style of choice for anyone who wants to update their look from the more traditional 501. This is because the 511 looks fitted and modern but has a comfortable stretch that makes it an easy transition from the bulkier 501.

Levi’s 505 vs 504

Levi’s 505 and 504 jeans look pretty similar, but the 504 breaks with tradition by offering a low-rise waist. Besides this key difference, the 504 style also has slightly slimmer legs.

The overall straight-leg, loose seat look remains the same in both styles.

You might like the newer 504 styles better than the 1960 505 styles if you want a lower waist. After all, not all body types feel super comfortable in a high-rise waist!

Levi’s 505 vs 514

The main difference between Levi’s 505 ad 514 jeans is that the 505 style has a high waist and straight fit, while the 514 offers a low waist and bulkier straight fit from the waist to the ankle.

The overall silhouette on both pairs of jeans looks pretty similar, but you may find that 514 feels more comfortable on anyone with a stockier body type.

Levi’s 501 vs 505 Women’s Jeans

Levi's Women's Premium 501 Original Fit Jeans, Athens Dark, 25 RegularLevi’s sells a dizzying array of jeans for women, including a women’s version of the traditional 501 and 505 styles.

Levi’s 501 for women has all the hallmarks of the original 501 for men. It has a high waist, a button fly, and straight legs. Levi’s calls this style “the blueprint” for all other jeans in the world! If you like a classic look, you will love the Original 501 for women.

Levi’s sells many different types of the 501 for women, including a baggy 90s version, a stretch denim version, and a basic classic straight-legged version. While most Levi’s women’s jeans do include some elastic, the classic version of the women’s 501 style does not contain 100% cotton.

Levi’s 505 for women sits at the waist just like the men’s version. It has straight legs with a 16.5” leg opening, as well. Overall, the 505 serves as a functional, loose pair of practical jeans for gardening or hiking. It is not one of Levi’s most popular styles for women because it lacks the slim or skinny silhouette a lot of jeans offer today, but the 505 will always win for the woman who wants an active lifestyle!

Levi’s Numbers Explained

If you’re wondering why Levi’s jeans have numbers like 501 and 505 instead of names, the answer is that no one really knows! In the early days of Levi’s company, a fire destroyed all the early records that might have given more information on the subject.

What you can know is that the company assigns a number to each style of jeans to help you easily distinguish one fit from another. Every number or style of jeans will differ in the rise, leg opening, leg, and overall fit.

As you saw earlier in this article, the company also assigns a second four-digit code to every pair of jeans to record what kind of color or finish it has. You can find both of these numbers on the care label sewn inside your jeans.

Vintage Levi’s 501 vs 505

Because good-quality Levi’s jeans can hold up for many years, you can sometimes find very cool vintage 501 or even 505 jeans for sale! Typically, clothing made before 1970 can be considered vintage. This means that the 1967 505 jeans really toe that line and don’t quite fall into the vintage category.

The original 501 jeans certainly do, though! The best way to determine whether or not a pair of 501 jeans are vintage is to find the red brand label and look at the letters in the brand name. If you see a capital “E” in “Levis,” the pants were probably made before 1970!

One thing to keep in mind is that vintage jeans tend to fit much smaller than modern clothing does. Sizing worked differently back in the day.

If you find a pair of vintage jeans at a flea market, try wrapping the waistband around your neck, and if it reaches easily, the jeans will probably fit you. It’s one of those old wives’ tales that usually works!


If you want a traditional sturdy, straight-legged pair of jeans, you probably want to decide between Levi’s 501 and 505. The main difference between these two classic styles is that the 505 offers more room in the hip and highs than the 501. The 505 also has a more modern zipper fly, while the 501 continues to celebrate the classic button fly.

Levi’s 501 has a cool heritage as the first kind of jeans ever made. The 505 continues this heritage but provides a bit more room for movement, making the 505 the more practical choice for the working man or woman. On the other hand, the 501 offers a more vintage look for anyone rocking a classic style!

What Levi’s styles have you tried? Which one did you like best, and why? Leave a comment below to let us know!