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Levi's 501 Jeans at Half the Price (or Less): Saving Money Buying Pre-Owned Levi's Jeans - What to Look For

Updated on February 6, 2013
Levi's 501 Original Button Fly Jeans.
Levi's 501 Original Button Fly Jeans.

Buying Levi's Jeans for Less than Half Price

Levi's 501s, Levi's 550, and Levi's 514 Jeans have become a staple in our lives. But have you noticed how expensive they have gotten? Now, I'm all for buying a pair of crisp new jeans, but when I see my husband working in the yard, or painting something in one of his "good" pair of Levi's...well, let's just say, I'm less than pleasant. Solution??? Buying Levi's Jeans at a HUGE discount, oftentimes for Less than HALF THE PRICE by purchasing Pre-Owned or Used Levi's 501s online.

Buying Levi's Pre-Owned or Used Online: What to Look For

My husband bought a pair of Pre-Owned or Used Levi's 514 online the other day. He spent less than $25, including shipping. The very same pair cost $58 at our local Macy's.

So where do you buy these fabulous Levi's at less than half the price of retail? Well...Ebay of course...but here's what you look for to ensure a happy transaction, and a great pair of jeans.

Tag Size vs. Actual Measurements

Everyone is well aware of the fact that Levi's shrink when they are washed. Some shrink more than others, for example the Levi's 501xx are "shrink to fit." So, you may find that you buy a pair of Levi's that are a size 32 waist, but when they shrink, and then you wear them to death (also known as stretching them out), they may actually be a 31 waist.

So, when looking for a good pre-owned pair of Levi's on Ebay, look for an Ebay Seller that lists both the tag size and actual measurements of the pair they are selling. But before you run to your computer and start your shopping spree, first....go get your favorite jeans and a measuring've got work to do (what? you thought this was all fun and games? This is serious business saving money!).

Step one: measure your most comfortable pair of jeans and use those "actual measurements" when buying used Levi's online. Here's what you should measure:

1. The waist. Laying down flat, measure the waist from side to side. If it measures 15", then it is a 30" waist pair of jeans. This will, of course, vary depending on the rise of the jeans. So next...

2. Measure the rise (the length from the crotch to the top of the waist band).

3. Third, measure the length of the inseam. This is done by measuring from the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg. (Nothing is worse than having a pair of pants that's a little too short.)

4. Finally, measure the opening at the bottom of the pant leg (again, laying flat and measuring across.)

Now that you are armed with all the measurements from your favorite pair of Levi's, NOW it's time to go shopping!!

Check the corner near the right rear pocket.  It has a tendency to become weak over time.
Check the corner near the right rear pocket. It has a tendency to become weak over time.

Inspecting Pre-Owned Levi's - Finding the Right Bargain

Condition, Condition, Condition

First of all, what are you looking for? If you are looking for a good pair of work pants, you can be a little more forgiving. But, if you are looking for a pair of pants that are Like New, or Great Condition, you'll need to read the descriptions closely, and inspect the pictures. What I have found, is that, aside from the obvious holes, tears and stains, there are a handful of places Levi's tend to show wear (that might not be readily obvious). They are, in no particular order of importance:

1. The crotch. Look for a Seller that tells you, or includes a picture, of the crotch of the jeans. Levi's that are used a lot, or don't fit the previous owner loosely, tend to fray in the crotch. A little fray is ok, but if they are threadbare, you want to know before they arrive on your doorstep.

2. The back right pocket. I don't know if it's because men have a tendency to put their wallet in their back right pocket, or hang there thumb in the back right pocket, OR WHAT, but pre-owned Levi's tend to have the start of a wear spot or weakness (otherwise known as the "the start of a hole") at the cormer of the rear right pocket, just above the Levi's red tab. Check this spot in the photos.

3. The back belt loops. Again, not sure why this is a reoccuring weak spot, but the back belt loops have a tendency to come unstitched. Oftentimes you will find them repaired, but more often than not, they are not attached. Check the photos closely.

4. The Fray. Not the band, what the bottom of the pant leg looks like. A little bit of fray is ok, again, depending on why you are purchasing the Levi's.

Look for frayed pant legs. A little fray is A-OK.
Look for frayed pant legs. A little fray is A-OK.

A Few Final Thoughts

As I was reading this story to my hubby, he mention that his newly acquired Pre-Owned pair of the Levi's 501xx "shrink to fit" jeans in size 36 x 34 fit him better than his usual 34 x 34. As such, I cannot stress the importance of looking at ACTUAL MEASUREMENTS.

Finally, somewhere along the line, Levi's 501s, 550s and 514s have become a "must have" and no longer the "I gotta have that pair of Levi's." Gone are the days of buying them simply because they are soooo cool. Oh, don't get me wrong, they are still cool as can be, but now they are the new "go to jeans," for work and play. But BOY oh BOY are they a lotta moolah!! Hopefully, with these helpful hints, you can save a little money and look great too.

And of course, still look super COOOOOOL but have more cash in your pockets wearing your HALF PRICE LEVI'S!!!


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    • profile image

      jaycoje 5 years ago

      what a great idea! I'm so sick of paying $50 for a pair of Levi's.

    • Danielle Landry profile image

      Danielle Landry 5 years ago from Vermont

      This is such a good idea. I can't believe I never thought of this and I certainly would not have thought of all the detailed measurements and inspections that should be done if one is going to purchase this way. I am in the market for a pair of Levi 501's...I just may hop on over to ebay with my next paycheck :) Thank you!

    • TheKemist profile image

      TheKemist 5 years ago

      i like this hub... there are some good points about Levis on here