Levi's jeans review: does the original denim brand still meet the mark?

Our fashion expert tests the 2022 collection of Levi's jeans to see if they're worth the investment

Three models in levi's jeans review
(Image credit: Future / Levi's)
Woman & Home Verdict

Levi’s jeans tick all our boxes, offering a broad choice of washes, styles and fits across an inclusive size range.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Inclusive sizing

  • +

    High-quality denim

  • +

    Water

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No cons that we can find!

It is almost impossible to write about jeans without mentioning the original denim brand, Levi’s. Recognized the world over, Levi's and jeans go hand in hand. But are they worth the investment? Our Levi's jeans review puts them to the test.

Makers of some of the best jeans on the market, although the brand was established in the mid 1800s, Levi's manage to perfectly balance staying true to its heritage and the latest denim trends 2022. Its classic copper rivets and instantly-recognizable red tabs remain in place today, now adorning its classic and trend-led styles made with eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Levi’s signature, the 501, remains just as popular today as they were when launched in 1873 - proof that the design is just as hard-wearing as the denim they’re crafted from. 

Fast-forward to 2022 and Levi's have a lot of competiton and although the brand has a phenomenal range of product, including the best denim jackets, mom jeans, white jeans and even the best jeans for curvy women, we wanted to put its denim to the test to make sure that the brand's heritage didn't cloud our judgement. Here's what we thought...

Our Levi's jeans review criteria

As part of this review, we tried a wide range of Levi’s denim to help you find the perfect pair. We tested skinny jeans vs straight jeans, this season's favorite nostalgic mom jean and the ever present bootcut jean. In our edit we also made sure to try collection staples including the original 501 jeans and 711 skinny jeans. We looked at the fabric and fit for each pair to see if they are durable, comfortable, and, importantly, true to size and based on the silhouette, what body type they'd be best suited to. The styles we chose to review are based on Levi’s best-selling styles, as well as the ones that are most timeless or fashion-forward in order to be most reflective of how your jeans capsule wardrobe might look. 

  • Collection size: 150+
  • Sizes: 23in-42in waist
  • Leg lengths: 26in-36in
  • Sustainable options: Yes
  • Starting price point: $69.50 / £60

The best Levi's jeans—as tested by w&h

jess wearing levi's jeans

Reviewer Jess wearing Levi's jeans (L-R High-Rise Bootcut, 501, Mile-High Super Skinny)

(Image credit: Jess Beech)

Jean shopping is highly personal, and it can be difficult to find the best jeans for your body type. However, over the years, having tested and written about hundreds of pairs of jeans from numerous brands, I've found these five key Levi’s styles to be universally crowd-pleasing. Levi's has some of the best plus size clothing brands and do offer a great range of jeans for all body types, making them a strong starting point in your ultimate jean quest. Covering off the latest fashion trends 2022, as well as wardrobe essentials, you're bound to find a pair our of Levi's 150+ styles that suit your needs. 

1. Levi's The original 501® jeans

The original 501® jeans

(Image credit: Levi's)

Proof that a classic never dates, Levi’s original 501 jeans continue to be one of its bestselling styles, and for many people a lynchpin to their capsule wardrobe. The ultimate addition to your wardrobe if you're looking for how to style straight-leg jeans, a straight leg shape is universally flattering. Fitted around hips and bum, they skim over thighs and calves. The most classic of the brand's denim, they're ideal for apple body shapes that want a slim-fitting jean that isn't too figure-hugging. Available in a wide range of washes, this could easily become a building block in your wardrobe. Invest in lighter hues for casual weekend outfits and black for wearing with your best blazer for a sharp finish. 

My favorite of all the Levi's jeans, these are also the ones that are least likely to date. The original denim jean offers huge versatility to wearers and you can easily slot this into your wardrobe. Made from non-stretch denim this is a jean that you may find yourself having to wiggle into and stretch to your shape, particularly after washing. I personally really like having a non-stretch denim jean as an option for days that I want a slightly more tailored and less body-conscious fit. I did find however that compared to other Levi's jeans, the 501 came up larger, so this is worth keeping in mind when ordering online.

2. Levi's High-waist ribcage jeans

High-waist ribcage jeans

(Image credit: Levi's)

The Levi's Ribcage jeans is the brand's highest rise style and as the name suggests sits just beneath your ribs - making them ideal for women with long torsos. With figure-sculpting abilities, they behave like some of the best shapewear, creating a smoother and more streamlined silhouette, great if you usually wear stylish dresses to hide a tummy and are conscious of your midsection. Because of the high rise, these jeans are ideal for wearing with tops tucked in, so opt for fitted jersey t-shirts to keep your silhouette contoured. Available in straight leg or boot cut, the real focus of these jeans is the high rise and the straighter leg or slightly flared boot cut will help to balance out the longer than usual rise. 

At 5'4, like me, if you usually shop for the best petite jeans, then these are unlikely to be the style for you. While I appreciated the fit and finish of the style, the high rise on a short torso can be a little overwhelming. 

If you want to balance out your shape or widen your shoulders to create the illusion of a narrower middle, we suggest teaming the ribcage jeans with a cropped version of one of the best leather jackets for a laid-back outfit that puts the focus on your waist.

3. Levi's 711 skinny jeans

711® skinny jeans

(Image credit: Levi's)

If you've always thought skinny jeans were uncomfortable due to their form-fitting shape, then think again. Levi's 711s are bucking the trend and are also one of the best jeans for plus size women. Crafted from four-way stretch fabric, they hug, sculpt and smooth your silhouette, moving with your body, in the same way the best plus size shapewear would. With a universally flattering midrise, it has just the right amount of stomach support to make you feel protected and comfortable all day long. 

The skinny leg helps to keep this style neat and also ups its versatility. From wearing under tunic style tops, to teaming it with blazers or your best cashmere sweater, there is nothing the 711 can't team up with. 

4. Levi's 725 High rise bootcut jeans

725 High rise boot cut jeans

(Image credit: Levi's)

Bootcut jeans often get a bad wrap and are rarely seen as being at the forefront of fashion trends. However thanks to '90s nostalgia, the bootcut is making a bid for your wardrobe, although many of us are yet to be entirely convinced.

Putting on a pretty persuasive argument is Levi’s 725 high-rise boot-cut jeans. Made from super stretchy denim, they hone and smooth out your silhouette, offering a figure-flattering fit that hugs your curves. The serious stretch makes them so comfy, that you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd slipped into your best leggings by mistake. 

Wearable with everything from the best white trainers to the best Chelsea boots, a bootcut jean is both flattering and versatile. With impressive leg-lengthening abilities - even to petite pins, and a flared hemline that balances out fuller busts and hips, making them ideal for pear-shaped bodies, consider me converted.

5. Levi's Mile high super skinny jeans

Mile high super skinny jeans

(Image credit: Levi's)

First came the skinny jeans, then came the super skinnies. A cross between our best denim and best leggings with pockets, the Levi's Mile High jeans are shapewear style skinny. While many skinny jeans we have tried suffer from baggy knees by lunch, due to Levi's high cotton count in the Mile High jeans, they really maintain their shape, all day long, seriously impressive. 

A skinny jean is incredibly versatile from teaming with comfortable flats or your best designer heels, there is no shoe that skinny jeans can't team up with. Pairable with blazers and your best shirt for smarter occasions, they're also ideal for what to wear on a first date. With a huge selection of washes, if you like your jeans form-fitted and with the ability to hug and sculpt your silhouette, then these are the Levi's jean that you need to build your wardrobe around. From smart black jeans outfits, to indigo, pale blue and white colorways, there is a pair for every occasion. 

Levi's jeans review—our verdict

With a broad selection of washes, styles, fits and inclusive sizing, Levi's gets a big thumbs up from me. As a specialist denim brand, Levi's price points are higher than some straight-to-market collections but the quality of the cuts and denim make them worth it if your budget can stretch. While the initial outlay is higher, due to the fabrication and stitching, if you care for your denim properly, they will return the favor, sticking around in your wardrobe for the foreseeable.

Super comfortable and built to last, Levi's has something for everyone. From fashion-forward designs and washes to classic iterations, they're also at the forefront of innovation when it comes to making denim more sustainable. 

My favorite fit was the 501s, as this classic straight-leg shape will never date. There’s huge potential for styling, as they look just as good with trainers and a Breton top as they do with heeled mules and a blazer. I had to size down compared to the other styles as they do come up a little big, but they sat nicely on my waist without feeling restrictive. It's important to note they also are 100% cotton and have no stretch so they give less than other pairs.

In general, I found Levi's jeans true to size. The skinnier fit - Mile high and the bootcut - 725, were slightly tighter to begin with but they give with wear. And it's important to remember that even if denim is 100% cotton with no stretch, the fabric will naturally give and stretch a bit as they mold to your shape. It's also why it's recommended to only wash your jeans are every 10 washes to keep the fabric from breaking down. 

When it comes to length at 5ft4 I found the 30inch length a little long and would recommend 28 for full length or 26 if you prefer more of an ankle grazing finish. 

Are Levi's jeans good value?

You can certainly buy good jeans cheaper than Levi’s, but few brand’s offer such an extensive range of sizes in such high-quality fabric. With an array of different waist and leg lengths available, a flattering fit is pretty much guaranteed, which, in our books, is well wortpayingng a premium for. The quality of the denim is elevated beyond budget jeans too, holding their shape and color well, wash after wash.

Jeans start from $69.50/£60 and go up to $405/£270 fom a pair of premium jeans designed in collaboration with another brand. It is possible to purchase a pair on offer, either directly from Levi’s or via other reputable stockists. So, if the price is putting you off, sign up to Levi's mailing lists to be first in line for any discounts. 

How comfortable are Levi’s jeans?

It is difficult to speak sweepingly about the comfort level of Levi’s jeans, firstly as it’s a subjective subject. Some people might be more than happy wearing a pair of high-waisted jeans all day, while others might prefer a lower rise. The fabric varies by style too, and the higher the elastane content, the stretchier they’ll be - which in general means they'll be more comfortable as they'll breathe and move with you. But of course, even if your Levi’s jeans don’t contain any elastane, they’ll still give and soften the more you wear them.

What are they made from?

Just like the originals, nearly all Levi’s jeans are made predominantly from cotton, with elastane and polyester added into the mix if the style requires it.

Tighter-fitting styles, like skinny jeans, are crafted with a higher percentage of elastane to hug your figure, whereas looser or more structured leg styles (think: straight jeans) rely on a higher cotton content to help them retain their shape. How rigid the fabric depends on how much cotton it contains - the higher the cotton count, the more rigid your jeans will be.

Are Levi’s jeans true to size? 

Luckily for online shoppers, Levi’s jeans come up true to size. Having said that, the fit on first wear can feel on the snug side. Although our advice is, if they just feel a little tight, resist the urge to size up and instead power through the initial tautness. All denim stretches and gives over time, so they’ll be perfectly molded to your shape within just a couple of wears. If you go bigger too quickly, they will potentially still stretch and then become too loose within several wears.

Unlike some jeans brands, which only ofeven-numberedered sizing, Levi’s caters to half sizes, too, which is especially handy if you normally sit between two dress sizes.

Sizing by waist ranges from 23 through to a 42 inch waist, with additional plus-size styles available in US dress sizes 14 through to 26. Leg lengths span 25 to 34 inches.

If you want what feels like a bespoke fitting pair of jeans for a straight-to-market price, then you should consider Levi’s patented Shrink-to-Fit jeans.

Pre 1960, all Levi’s were Shrink-to-Fit, which means they were made from raw, untreated denim. They were designed to be bought big and shrunk down to your perfect size at home. The finish all depended on how you wore, washed, and cared for them. Levi’s 501s are still available in Shrink-to-Fit today if you fancy trying to create a more bespoke-style pair. 

How sustainable are Levi jeans? 

According to the United Nations, it can take up to 10,000 liters of water to make a single pair of jeans. If fashion consumption weighs heavy on your conscience, and you prefer to shop with the best sustainable clothing brands, then Levi’s has some more sustainable options in its range.  

Levi’s is incorporating cottonized hemp into its collection. Confusingly, it’s not actually cotton, but rather a hemp-based yarn that feels and works just like the real deal. 

Hemp grows quicker than cotton, uses less water, and leaves the soil behind cleaner and healthier. Levi’s has combined hemp yarn with 77% cotton in their High Loose Jeans and we couldn’t tell the difference. (Don’t fret about the negative connotations normally associated with hemp; there’s no tell-tale smell here, nor does hemp contain the hallucinogenic compound found in marijuana.)

Also, look out for jeans made from Tencel lyocell, a soft fiber sourced from sustainably harvested wood, according to Levi’s. Blended with cotton or polyester, it makes for an even softer jean that will biodegrade when it finally makes its way to landfill. 

All of the water used to produce jeans isn’t just from growing the cotton. To get denim into the soft state we’ve all become accustomed to, it needs to be washed and treated. But instead of using water and fabric softener to get its raw denim shop-ready, Levi’s now treats its jeans in a variety of innovative ways, such as tumble drying with bottle caps and golf balls. 

It’s all part of its Water<Less initiative, which saved an eye-watering 4.2 billion liters of water since 2011. 

All sustainably produced jeans are marked with an icon on Levi's site to make them easy to identify.

How easy are Levi’s jeans to care for?

Levi’s are really easy to care for as, according to its in-house denim experts on how to wash your jeans, the answer is as little as possible: ‘‘Wash them once every 10 wears at most to maintain the fit and prevent too much ‘rebound’.” 

Marked your jeans? No problem. “Use a damp cloth or old toothbrush with mild soap to remove small stains instead of washing them. You know the distinct lines and creases you see on your jeans, the ones specific to you? That unique look comes from wearing your jeans for long periods without washing.”

All Levi’s jeans should be washed cold, either by hand or on the gentle setting on your machine. For darker shades like black or indigo, wash inside out to preserve your shade.

Popping them in the tumble dryer can damage the integrity of the fabric, so hang yours up to dry for best results. Just remember, sunshine can distort and fade your shade, so if you love your Levi’s just the way they are, leave them somewhere shady to dry. 

Jess Beech

Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is a former Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.