Within minutes of pulling the tags off, my first pair of 501s were falling victim to scissors. Hemming wasn’t necessary. Pinrolling would tackle the taper and length of their straight-legged fit, but customization — back in the mid ’80s — was a must. The scissor operation would eliminate the fly-flap covering those iconic buttons, and the cut had to be as close to that gold thread as possible. Trimmed correctly, exposed-fly 501s vaulted you into the ethers of pre-teen cool; incorrectly, and after about a month, you’d strut around looking like a frayed Def Leppard. Those were confusing days. Almost 30 years have passed since then, but the important role a pair of fashionable jeans play in a man’s closet has only grown. They are a staple item that, with attention paid to tailoring and cut, amplify confidence and deliver the definition of dressy casual.
The ethos of denim is as everlasting as the fabric itself. It has always been cool and the 501 has outlasted most. But mere existence does not equate to transcendence. Transcendence demands relevance. Enter the new Levi’s 501 CT. Signifying “customized” and “tapered”, these new button flies mark a contemporary departure from the typically straight-legged cut of Levi’s workwear icon: an evolution of an age-old favorite that ticks all the right boxes. With a slimmer, tapered leg being the new sartorial sine qua non — it’s the second-most-common tailoring request for 501s, next to hemming — Levi’s turned their customer’s cues into the new model. The CT’s sit lower, resting below the waist with a shorter rise and legs that taper from the knee down to a fashion-forward 13.75-inch ankle (compared to an Original Fit 501s 17-inch cuff). Worn true to size, this delivers the comforts and mobility of a low-slung jean but with a noticeably more refined silhouette, and of course, that iconic button fly.
That means these 501s dress up as well as they do down. In a dark wash, paired with a slim-fitting shirt, 2-button blazer and the right shoes, Operation Dinner out will always be a go. The exposed-fly fad of the late-’80s has thankfully failed to resurrect (don’t blame us if you start seeing it), but after 140 years of existence, its clear that 501s will never vanish from the our landscape.