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Levis 511 vs 512 Jeans: What is the Difference?

I love wearing comfortable, stylish jeans for many different occasions, but sometimes I have a hard time finding new jeans that fit just right. Choosing from all the styles of Levi’s available gets quite confusing! For example, if you compare Levi’s 511 vs 512 jeans, what is the difference?

The main difference between Levi’s 511 and 512 jeans is that 512 jeans taper in below the knee, while 511 hangs straight from the knee to the ankle. Both jeans have a slim fit and the same waist style. The 512 style also feels a bit tighter because of its tapering legs.

In this article, you’ll find out what Levi’s 511 and 512 look like. You’ll get an overview of the most popular Levi’s styles available today. Finally, you’ll learn tips for how to select the right style for you!

Levis 511 vs 512 Jeans

Levi’s 511 vs 512 Jeans: Key Points

Levi’s 511 and 512 both feature the modern, slim fit, but each pair of jeans has its own distinct characteristics, too.

Take a look at this chart to get an at-a-glance impression of several of the most popular styles of Levi’s jeans, including the cut, rise, and material used in each one!

CutSlim fitSlim fit with tapered legs
Leg Opening14.5”12.75”
WaistSome elasticSome elastic
MaterialPremium cotton, but often includes 1-2% elasticPremium cotton, but often includes 1-2% elastic
OccasionTrendy eventsMod look for casual or trendy events

What Are Levi 511 Jeans?

What Are Levi 511 Jeans

Levi’s based its incredibly popular slim-fit 511 jeans on the original 501 style that has remained popular for decades.

Levi Strauss patented the first blue jeans made of cotton denim all the way back in 1871! At the time, jeans and a utilitarian purpose because denim offered a tough, durable fabric that would hold up for rough wear. Levi Strauss had the great idea of adding rivets at key stress points to make these rugged pants even more indestructible.

Today, of course, Levi’s continues to offer the classic, durable style in the original 501 cut. Levi’s jeans have also progressed with modern fashion trends, which led to the more stylized cut of the 511 with its fitted, slender shape and stylishly lower waist.

First released in 2016, the 511 marries the classic style of the original 501 with a sleeker, slimmer look suitable for modern fashion.

So, what exactly does the 511 style of jeans look like? This trendy style offers a fitted waist, slender thigh area, and narrow leg opening, while below the knee, the jeans hang straight, meaning that they tend to break just a bit more loosely at the ankle.

Levi’s describes the 511 cut as slim-fit, meaning that this style will not feel as tight or skin-hugging as skinny jeans. These jeans do provide a slender silhouette, though, because they fit closely at your waist and thighs without the rubberband elastic feel of true skinny jeans.

These jeans also incorporate something called flex fabric. This means that Levi’s blends in 1 to 2% of elastane, a type of elastic, with the cotton threads that make the denim. Giving jeans a little stretch makes a tightly fisted waist much more comfortable and allows you to bend over or even jog without feeling constrained!

You can choose from more than 80 different shades and colors in the 511 cut! These include red, grey, the classic blue-white of denim! Plus, these pants come with the option of many different washes or finishes, including a sanded finish that gives them a rugged, burnished appearance.

What Are Levi’s 512?

What Are Levi’s 512

Levi’s 512 cut takes the 511 style just slightly further by adding tapered legs to the already slim fit. Levi’s saw such a positive reaction to the slim 511 that it promptly added the 512 to its repertoire. This new style is based on the 511 but has tighter legs all the way down, instead of the slim fit in the upper leg and then the straight knee-to-ankle of the 511.

Because of its slightly tighter fit, the 512 cut feels a little more like skinny jeans than the 511. That said, Levi’s officially describes the 512 as a slim-fit cut, though they are technically stretch jeans. Like the 511, the 512 style features cotton blended with a tiny percentage of elastic fibers.

As a newer style, the 512 so far offers 30 different colors and finishing washes. When you think about it, you don’t usually find 30 different choices for one garment from most brands! Levi’s takes jeans seriously and provides multiple different options so you can mix and match them to get the perfect look for every occasion.

The main thing to keep in mind about Levi’s 512 style is that these jeans will fit closely to your body from the waist to the ankle. They give you a sharp, sleek, modern appearance. If you like to keep up with current fashion trends, you may like the 512 cut over the more classic 511 cut!

What is the Difference Between Levi’s 511 and 512 Jeans?

Levis 511 vs 512

The main difference between Levi’s 511 and 512 cut jeans is the straight vs. tapered fit from the knee to the ankle. The 511 style has a straight leg, while the 512 leg tapers and ends in a much narrower opening at the ankle.

Check out these defining characteristics of each style to see how they compare!


The main difference between the 511 and 512 styles is the cut. In fact, the 512 is the same as the 511 except for the lower leg cut. You will find that the waist, seat, and upper leg portions of both styles fit you just the same, while the lower leg looks and feels quite different.

When you get down to the lower leg, though, the 512 cut tapers in, meaning that it is wider at the knee and narrower at the ankle. This tapered style presents a sleeker, fashion-forward style that looks a lot like a skinny-jean cut but still provides the comfort of the slightly looser waist and thigh areas.

If you spread out the 511 jeans on a flat surface and then lay a pair of 512 jeans on top, you will see right away that the 512 style cuts in much more sharply than the 511 jeans from the knee to the ankle.


Levi 511 Waist

The 511 and 512 styles ride low on the waist, though they are not cut low enough to be considered hip-huggers by any means! Also, both cuts incorporate some elastic fibers in the waistband material, giving them an easy stretch to make bending over more comfortable.

levis 512 Waist

According to Levi’s, both cuts fit true to size in the waist area, so go ahead and order your normal size for these jeans!

Leg Opening

Levi 511 and 512 leg opening

Because of its tapered style, the 512 cut ends at a much narrower leg opening than the 511. The 511’s leg opening measures 14.5 inches, while the 512 has a smaller opening measuring just 12.75 inches! That’s almost a two-inch difference in diameter for those of you who don’t feel like doing the math.

Two inches may seem insignificant, but a narrower leg looks better with different shoes than a straight leg, so the difference could impact your style choices.


Levis 512 vs 511

Levi’s 511 has 80 different colors and washes available, and the 512 style comes in 30 different colors and finishes! These range from premium cotton denim’s classic blue and white threads to a mod cranberry red and a razor-sharp black.

Besides a wide selection of colors to choose from, you can also pick the wash, or type of finish, for these jeans. What is a denim wash? It’s a chemical or mechanical treatment that can cause a variety of effects on your jeans.

Some of the most popular washes include a stone wash, a bleach wash, an acid wash, and an enzyme wash. A stonewash uses pumice stones to give jeans an aged, faded look in places. Acid, bleach, and enzyme washes cause varying degrees of color change and soften the denim more than usual.

Best For

Both the 511 and 512 styles of jeans can work for casual, outdoor, or business-casual events, depending on the color and finishing wash you choose.

The slim-fit cut allows you plenty of freedom to move around for outdoor events like hiking or boating. The many color options and finishes provide styles that can look classy enough for less casual events, like wearing on a dress-down Friday at the office!

What to Wear with These Jeans

Because of the slim-fit style of both types of jeans, you may prefer to wear a loose sweater, button-up shirt, or flannel shirt with these jeans to create a balanced look.

That said, you can also look great with a t-shirt and sneakers, especially if you select a vintage-looking stone-washed finish for your jeans!

Of course, as you select your shoes, you should note that the 512 style will show off your footwear more because of its narrower pant legs. You may want slim-looking loafers instead of boxy sneakers to pair with this cut of jeans!

Other Levi’s Styles: 501, 502, 513, 514

Levi fit comparison

Not every jeans-lover wants a slim-fit cut, so you may want to consider Levi’s most popular other styles as well as the 511 and 512! This brief overview will give you a general idea of what you can expect from various Levi’s styles.

CutStraight/Regular/ClassicStraight-Slim fitSkinny cutStraight-Slim fitRegular-cut slim fit
Leg Opening16”14.513”15.7516.5
RiseHighMid-HighLowMidLow, hip-hugging
Waist100% cotton (denim)100% cottonAlways contains elasticOften contains a little elastic100% cotton
SeatLooseLooseTightLoose but not baggyLoose
Material100% cotton100% cottonAlways a stretch denimOften contains some elasticUsually 100% cotton
OccasionPhysical labor, at-home, rugged lookLoose upper area like the 501, but tapered legs give these jeans a casual, more sytlish look.Very mod and sleek, perfect for a fashion-forward event!Comfortable but stylish cut for casual eventsMore at-home or casual vibes than professional or formal, but the loose fit keeps you comfy!
Levi's Men's 501 Original Fit Jeans (Also Available in Big & Tall), Dark Stonewash, 34W x 32LThe 501, first released way back in 1873, gives you a classic, straight-cut blue jean style perfect for a day hiking in the woods! Like the originals, most 501 styles come with rivets that make the premium denim even tougher. These jeans don’t have a trendy, narrow silhouette, but they sure can last!

The 502 style has a unique shape that offers a loose fit in the waist, seat, and thighs but then tapers through the lower leg, ending in a small leg opening. This cut works great for anyone who dislikes feeling constrained but wants a stylish, sleek shape!

The Levi’s 510 comes in an skinny cut and is the tightest of all of Levi’s styles for men. This style uses a blend of elastic fibers to create stretchier denim. You can expect a 510 cut to hug your body from waist to ankles!

The 513 offers another variation on the slim-fit 511 though you call it a slim-straight cut, not just a slim fit. It has the same low-riding waist but then has a straight leg instead of a slim-cut hip and thigh area. This style gives you more range of movement and may feel more comfortable if you like looser pants.

The 514 is also technically a slim-straight cut, meaning that it gives you more wiggle room in the hip and thigh portion of the leg. The main difference here is that the 514 also has a low-slung waist that sits at your hips!

How to Select the Best Levi’s Style for You

Now that you know more about the most popular Levi’s styles, you can figure out which type of jeans will work best for you! Jeans have an amazing ability to blend in among every social class and in many different settings, from the rugged outdoors to classy parties or work events. They have an almost universal appeal!

Typically, you will want to select your preferred style of Levi’s for one of two reasons.

First, you can match the jeans to the occasion. If you’re going out clubbing, you probably need a jean style that looks modern, trendy, and sleek! The classic 501 style, in contrast, would give you more of a cowboy or at-home look.

Second, you can pair your style of jeans to your body type to create a unique style that looks best on you. For example, the 501 fits best on men with an athletic body type, while the super-skinny 510 looks better on people with small, slender frames. The super-popular slim-fit 511 works great for anyone with a slim or athletic build, and the 512 complements a slender build.

Ultimately, though, you should give yourself a chance to try on several different styles, and then select the one that you like best!


Levi’s 511 and 512 styles feature a slim-fit cut for men that come in a wide range of color and finishing wash options, including the classic blue-and-white. The 511 offers a straight leg, while the 512 has a more tapered fit from the knee to the ankle, ending in a much smaller leg opening. Both jeans fit the same way through the waist, seat, and thighs.

These slender jeans offer a modern, sleek style that looks great with a casual t-shirt or a business-casual button-down shirt. They have a comfortable, easy feel that makes them a great choice for both indoor and outdoor events, too!

Have you tried either Levi’s 511 or 512 style? Which did you like more? Leave a comment below to let us know!