How To Build A Vintage Wardrobe: Part VII Denim

Shopping for vintage denim.

In an upcoming post, I’ll discuss identifying and collecting vintage Levi’s specifically but today I’m offering some ideas on incorporating a variety of vintage denim pieces into a wardrobe representing several decades.

I’ve been living in my vintage jeans for quite some time now as I haven’t bought a pair of new blue jeans in two years. I bought two pairs of black jeans last Christmas but for blue jeans, I’ve been reaching for well-loved vintage. I have a few different washes, and a mix between no rips to shredded, and everything in between.

I love the mid-high rise of vintage jeans as well as the thickness of the denim compared to the thin and stretchy jeggings that were thrust on us most recently. I still love a stretchy black skinny jean. I live in those as well but for blue denim, a vintage selection excites me the most.

vintage denim

While there are numerous online sources for purchasing vintage denim, I have only made my purchases in person. The smallest detail in fit or appearance can make or break it for me. Jeans are too personalized and as some vintage denim can be expensive, I prefer to shop vintage stores, flea markets and fairs, thrift stores, etc., anyplace I can touch them in person and hopefully try them on.

Beginning with the oldest denim in my wardrobe, below is only a sample of the vast offerings available for vintage denim.

95 Year Old American Workwear

Vintage American workwear

A very old pair of vintage American workwear that I cherish. I’m going to call this denim although it looks like suiting, it feels very much like denim and being workwear offers the same effect.

1930s American Workwear

1930s American vintage workwear

I did a post featuring these jeans from the 1930s just last week.

1960s Levi’s Trucker Jacket

Vintage Levi’s Trucker Jean Jacket

I had to go to a collector for this 1960s Levi’s jean jacket. I appreciate its uniqueness with the many patches and repairs. I could never find one better.

1960s Levi’s 501

1960s Vintage Levi’s 501

I love this torn and patched pair of vintage 501s that I purchased from a dealer, dressed up or down.

1970s Levi’s Bell-Bottoms

1970s Levi’s Bell Bottoms

The high waist and flare on these 1970s Levi’s are spot on. I’m wearing them with a platform shoe here, but they look event better with a pointed toe.

1970s Wranglers

Another Brimfield Flea Market find are these Wranglers from a few years ago. They look like they’ve never seen the inside of a washing machine and therefore, look best dressed up, not down. I like the contrast when styled with something on the dressier side.

1980s Levi’s 517

Vintage orange tab 517s

These vintage Levi’s have a zip fly and a textured, grainy wash that I love. They are straight leg and I like that they make my legs look long.

1980s Lee Jeans

Vintage Lee jeans
1980s Lee jeans

My only pair of vintage Lee jeans, I bought them at Brimfield Flea Market. They are currently in my sewing basket as I’ve made some rips of my own and they are in need of new patchwork.

Post-2002 Thrift Store Finds

I wanted to include two examples of Levi’s 501 jeans that have that high-waisted, vintage fit yet are indeed not vintage according to the label. All Levi’s 501 jeans were made in San Francisco until 2002 when the last plant closed. If the care label says anything other than Made in USA, they were made post-2002. However, they are still Levi’s. They fit great, will last years, and are inexpensive.

Post-2002 Levi’s 501

I found this pair of high-waisted Levi 501s at a thrift store. I like the fit so I bought them and cropped them.

Post-2002 Levi’s 501

These dark wash 501s I bought in a London thrift store for $20. They too have a loose vintage fit and higher waist.

I hope this inspires you to hit the racks at your local vintage shop or thrift store for a few well-made, classic vintage denim pieces to incorporate into your wardrobe.

Happy Hunting!

– Angel xo

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