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How to Buy And Shrink Levi's 501 Shrink To Fit Jeans

Updated March 28, 2017

Levi's 501 Original Shrink-to-Fit jeans are jeans that are bought and then intentionally shrunk to snugly fit the wearer. As the name suggest, these jeans shrink to fit and are not purchased in your typical sizing. You need to get a larger size than you regularly wear, then shrink them down to your body shapes and curves.

Select a pair of Levi's 501 Original Shrink-to-Fit jeans one waist size larger than you typically wear.

Purchase a pair of jeans that are 3 inches longer on your inseam than typical for your body. For example, if your normal inseam is 32, get a pair of 35- or 36-inch inseam. If you have to make a choice based on availability at the store, go with a longer rather than shorter pair. Using the Step 1 criteria and the inseam, you end up with a pair of Shrink-to-Fit jeans 1 inch larger in the waist and 3 to 4 inches longer on the inseam.

Draw a hot bath. Bring the temperature up to your normal bath temperature as hot as you can stand it. Do not use water that is too hot so you don't get scalded. Once the bath is drawn, put on the jeans.

Soak in the tub with the trousers on for at least 30 minutes. Get out and wear the trousers wet for at least 1 hour. Walk around and let the trousers shrink and dry to your body's natural curves and shape.

Wash the jeans in a hot machine wash once they dry. If you want, do this after a day or two of wearing them. The colour will bleed, so make sure to wash them by themselves. Wash them in hot water with a hot water rinse. Remove after the wash and let them air dry. You are all set with you custom formed Levi's 501 Shrink-to-Fit jeans.

Things You'll Need

  • Bathtub and hot water
  • Washing machine
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About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.