The Secret to Breaking-In Your New Stiff Jeans


As you saw in my previous Levi’s post I’m a fan of rigid denim, but that does not come easy because rigid denim is not designed to fit like a glove on the first, third or fifth time. It takes time. It actually takes wearing them and moving in them. Unfortunately we are in an era where we want instant gratification, so things like this can make us impatient. But patience is what we need. I also think we need a little education about it all. If there’s something that makes me sad when I read reviews about rigid denim it’s that people love the styles but just think the fit is too tight. Some retailers will recommend sizing up while others will not give any information whatsoever besides the 100% cotton label.

What You Should Know About 100% Cotton Denim

  • Buy your regular size. Yes, they will be tight at first and they should be if you want them to mold to your body and give you that perfect fit or in Miles John’s words (Levi Strauss & Co’s former creative director): “They should feel tight. Just keep in mind they’ll probably ease off about an inch or inch and a half.” Read this interview for his expert opinion about rigid denim for women. I loved it.
  • Buy a size up ONLY if you want a boyfriend fit.
  • Length might shrink around 1″ or more. Mine only shrunk one. With this petite body at 5′ 2″ I still have to roll my hem, but I like it because the selvedge looks really cool (be sure to click through my original article if you want more info on that.) However, if you’re tall and the length is just right the first time, it’s better to size up in length. That option is available through or just avoid heat.

The Break-In Process

Now, the break-in process. There are some tricks that can make the process a little shorter if you’re a little impatient. These tricks will allow us to wear rigid jeans with less tightness around the waist, hips and thighs while they keep molding to our body with every wear.

This is the way I break them in broken down in steps. Sometimes I don’t even get to step #3 but for the sake of this post, I’ll show you everything.

I started with the Rock Pop Selvedge Levi’s 501. This is the first time I tried them on. You’ll notice they’re very tight, my butt was totally flattened by the tightness. Here’s what to do about that..

1. Work out in them.

Not really, but a few lunges and squats will help to loosen up the fibers. My mom taught me to always squat when trying on new pants and I still do it.

2. Wear them around the house.

Any type of movement can help the denim loosen up a little bit. I’ll choose a day I’m going to be home and wear them. Believe me that all that up and down the stairs, kneeling to pick up food or toys for the 20th time, and even sitting to watch a show or work on the computer will tell the denim where you need some give. Do this for 2-3 days. By this point the pair I chose was totally wearable and I was already wearing them out and about. Criss-cross sitting while reading to your kid is great, too!

3. Take a bath with them (yes, really.)

This is where things get a little weird. You’ll think I’m crazy but it just works like magic. Fill your tub with hot water (lukewarm if you don’t want the length to shrink) and get in it with the jeans ON. Relax there for 20 minutes. Read a book, check your phone. I listened to a podcast. Make that some forced “me time” haha. Believe me, I was a happy mama after this.

4. Some people say get out and wear them until they dry..

I find that a little terrible. Just a little. Who wants to walk around with dripping wet jeans? They can get heavy and cold. So I get out of the tub and take them off. I lay them flat over a towel and let them dry. I’ll check back in a few hours. If the jeans were too tight or you want them more on the looser side, put them back on and let them finish drying on your body. I say this because I wore another pair until they dried and they might have turned out a little looser than what I wanted. But if you just wanted a little give on hips and legs just let them dry by themselves, you already did the work in the bathtub.

5. Wear them and wear them….and keep wearing them.

The fibers will keep relaxing and you’ll forget they were even tight at the beginning. I love my almost 3-year-old Wedgie pair more now than I have ever before and these? You can tell I’m already in love!

Before and after (front and back)

How to Care for Your Now Broken-In Jeans

These are actually recommendations for all kinds of jeans if we want them to last longer and get a lot of wear for our money.

  • Don’t wash them often. I’ve heard of people washing them every a few months, but I honestly wash them every 4-5 wears. I wear them a lot so at least once a month they need to be washed. I was just reading in the Levi’s blog the ideal is 10 wears.
  • I only wash them with cold water and try to avoid the dryer as much as possible. Although sometimes if they’ve loosen up a lot I’ll throw them in for a little bit and the fibers shrink back to the way they first were when I broke them-in.
  • Between washes spot clean and for odors the best thing to do is to put them in a bag inside the freezer. That will kill all of the odor bacteria.

I hope this will help you be less afraid of 100% cotton denim and you enjoy the benefits that only this denim can give you!…and remember to squat a lot!! or as my husband says: try to poop with your jeans on. Why do you think I was laughing?

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You can also head to the “Guide to 501 Levi’s jeans” for other washes I tried on.

Chao, chao. Julieta

You can find me over on Instagram (@julietatorresd) for a lot of Levi’s, high-rise jeans and a real and vulnerable take on motherhood. I believe in being real on social media.