Thursday, September 1, 2011

Levi's 501 vs 505 - What's the difference? (2017)

Looking for a new pair of jeans?

Levi’s has you covered. You can’t go wrong with the classic 501 or 505’s.


you might be asking, “Which model do I pick? What’s the real difference between them?”. On first blush, they both look almost identical.

But there are subtle differences that you should be aware of.

Levi's 501 Levi's 505
Taper Slight None
Fly Button Zipper
Check Price Check Price

The Fly

First off, the fly of the Levi’s 501 and the Levi's 505 are not the same.

The Levi’s 501 jeans have a button fly while the Levi’s 505 jeans have a zipper fly. This is the most obvious difference between the two jeans.

The only obvious benefit to having buttons is that you’ll never get caught with your fly down.

The Fit

Now let’s talk about the fit of these two models.

The Levi’s 501 jeans taper down a bit to meet your legs, while the Levi’s 505 jeans are straight cut jeans with no tapering.

There is some dispute about whether the 501’s actually do taper. All official descriptions describe both jeans as straight legged. But some people online do claim that it does. If it does exist, it’s subtle, and shouldn’t make a big difference.

The Levi's 501 (left) vs. the Levi's 505 (right)

From 1873 when Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis first patented their “waist overalls”, the 501’s remain Levi’s number one selling product. The Levi’s 501 jeans come in both Original Fit and Shrink-To-Fit varieties. The Levi’s Red Tab 501 jeans sits at your waist and has a classic seat and thighs. It’s a straight leg jean with a 16 inch opening.

The original fit is made from cotton and is pre-shrunk so it will keep its shape after washing. The Shrink-To-Fit version will also sit at your waist. This one has a straight leg but with a 17 inch opening. There is also more room in the seat. The Shrink-To-Fit name comes from the fact that this denim will shrink around 10% after washing.

The Levi’s 505 comes only in Regular fit. It sits at the waist with a regular, comfortable fit through the seat and thighs.

The 505’s have a straight leg with a 16.5 inch opening.

The 505’s are made from cotton and elastane (spandex), whereas the 501’s are made entirely of cotton.

The 505’s come in regular, extra tall and big sizes.

Bottom Line

Your decision to buy the Levi’s 501 or the 505 comes down to your preference of zipper vs. button fly and whether you like the fit. If you can, try on both models at a physical store.

At the end of the day, either choice will be fine for most people since they are near identical.


  1. Some info here is backwards.... the 501 has more of a straighter leg than the 505, which is slightly more tapered. 501's have the button fly with a straight leg opening of 17" - the 505's are zipper fly with slight tapered straight leg opening of 16.5" (also as per Levi's sizing charts & descripts)

  2. No, the article is correct. The 505 is the straight leg. The 501 is the taper. Any other conclusion is simply not the correct one.

  3. Actually you're both wrong. The left leg on the 501's taper but the right leg is straight. On the 505's the right leg tapers but the left is straight. And the 505's do have a button fly but its in the back. Hope that helps.

  4. hahah actually we're all victims of modern-day Levi's inconsistency.

  5. The article is correct!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I own both Style Jeans, and frankly 501s are the BEST JEANS EVER!!!!!