Team Try-On: Levi’s 501s Shorts


It is prime jean-short season, and we’re always up for finding the best of the best. By “best of the best,” we really just mean a pair that appeals to as many body types & shapes as possible. That’s the only way there can be a truly great piece, and we just so happen to love trying new stuff on. You know us by now.

If you’re a seasoned TME reader, you know a bunch of us have pledged allegiance to our beloved Levi’s long ago. If you’re new here, hi! We take jeans of all kinds very seriously (and have allll the opinions on them) and always find ourselves gravitating to this summer pair in particular: Levi’s 501 shorts. Grab a drink & stay awhile — nine of us tried them on for ya.

Shop a huge selection of 501 shorts in pretty washes, distressing, lengths & silhouettes at: Levi’s | Nordstrom | Zappos | Amazon | Kohl’s | Free People

Levi’s 501 Jean Shorts: A Team Try-On & Review

Why Levi’s? Well, you literally cannot beat the price point. 501 styles range from $59 (or $30 on sale) to $98, making them such an affordable pair at sizes 23 to 33 & plus sizes 16 to 24. We love them for their classic cuts and their ability to seemingly look great with anything, all summer long.

If you’re loving our team-wide takes, more of our denim shorts try-ons can be found here:

AGOLDE Parker Denim Shorts | KUT From The Kloth Jane Denim Shorts | Abercrombie Denim Mom Shorts

And if you’re not a shorts kind of person, here are two great jeans styles we’ve tried:

Levi’s 501s Jeans | Abercrombie’s Curve Love High-Rise Mom Jeans

Shana | Scotti | Laura | Julieta | Amy | Linzi | Kat | Abby

Levi’s 501 Shorts, Shana’s Take

top (M) | shorts (28) | flip-flops

Shana Says: I’m a longtime fan of the original Levi’s 501 jeans AND the ’90s-style 501s — they are, in fact, my favorite pairs of jeans, but the shorts equivalent is not as good. Mind you, they’re not bad. It’s just that there are other denim shorts I like better (these are still my faves). I think part of the issue is that once summer hits, I want a pair of shorts I don’t necessarily need to break in, and these are both a little thick and a little stiff. However, I know that these WILL break in eventually. My old 501s in “Fault Line Medium Wash” are softer & more comfortable than these shorts…it’s just that the distressing was a bad choice — now that they’re broken in, my underwear shows. 🙂

Details: The 501 shorts I went with to replace my old “Fault Line” pair is called “Ojai Slide – light wash.” My denim size keeps, uh, expanding, so I grabbed a 28 (one size up from my original pair). The result is a looser-fitting pair of shorts, which I actually really like, although the bum looks better in my regular size.

Levi’s 501 Shorts, Scotti’s Take

shorts (28)

Scotti Says: I tried the Levi’s 501 shorts a couple of years ago, and they didn’t work. My body has changed a bit since then, though, and I thought I’d give them another try. They fit better this time around, and I’ve found that the wash matters (some are softer/less rigid than others), although like Kat says, they’re not really built with curves in mind.

Details: I’m wearing 28 (my usual size) in both pairs here. They definitely need a little time to break in, but once they do, they’re awesome and much comfier. I find them to be more of a mid-rise, so they’re not super-waist-defining, and they’re definitely short. They aren’t my favorites (hello, Parkers!), but I do like them a lot.

Levi’s 501 Shorts, Laura’s Take

vest (S) | shorts (29) | similar shoes

Laura Says: Since Levi’s 501s are my favorite jeans, it’s no surprise that I love the shorts too. I’m not feeling short shorts this summer, so I tried this longer ’90s version, and they’re so great! Sometimes longer shorts don’t quite work on me, but these are cute, fit great, and have some fun little details that made me feel like I was back in college thrifting old Levi’s.

Details: Fit is true to size on these, and they’ll relax a bit with wear. I probably could have used a 28 but I don’t like fitted shorts so I sized up like I often do in rigid denim.

Levi’s 501 Shorts, Julieta’s Take

shorts (27) l sandals 

Julieta Says: I used to love these in the past, but my body changed and they stopped fitting. I decided to try again in my new size, but I don’t love them as much anymore. They ride up like crazy thanks to my thighs (might need a size up). These days I’m enjoying the Levi’s ’80s Mom Shorts more: They have enough room in the leg opening, have a longer length, and don’t have distressing, which I like.

Details: I’m wearing a 27, and I’m wondering why I forgot to go for a size up. That could explain the riding up. I know from experience with my past size that they soften up with time, so now I’m curious to try them in a bigger size. There’s something I love about the loose and not-too-high waist, especially with swimsuits.

Levi’s 501 Shorts, Amy’s Take

shorts (29) | tee (m) | sandals (10)

Amy Says: I’m going to be honest with you guys, I don’t even like the way the Levi’s 501 shorts look on the models. Everybody looks like they’re wearing two sizes too tiny, and for fear of having a perma-wedgie (front AND back), I ordered one size up from my normal 28 in Levi’s to a 29. Spoiler alert: The wedgie was still very loud and proud, and not in a cute Gen Z way.

Details: The waist is high, the inseam barely there, and I tugged on these constantly just during my try-on…plus going one size up caused a little too much fabric in the hips. I love you, Levi’s, but I don’t like your 501 classic shorts (psst…the 501 ’90s shorts, on the other hand!? A whole different story).

Levi’s 501 Shorts, Linzi’s Take

shorts (31) | top | flip-flops | bag

Linzi Says: Surprise, surprise…I hate them. I’m not a denim-shorts person and have yet to find a pair of denim shorts that I’ll actually wear. These 501 Original Shorts are now part of the club. I don’t like the way they look, I don’t like the way they feel, and I don’t like the way they fit. They ride up when I walk, are bunchy and weird when I sit down, and aren’t especially soft or comfortable. I do like the wash (better weathered)… There…I said something positive.  

Details: These 501s actually fit me better in the waist than other Levi’s shorts I’ve tried. They have a higher waist, which probably fits my body type better (but isn’t necessarily more comfortable). I’m short (5’2″), and these guys are SHORT on even me! I typically wear a 29 in MOTHER denim, but I sized up to a 31 in these, and they’re still a little snug.

Levi’s 501 Shorts, Kat’s Take

top (1X) | shorts (22) | sandals 

Kat Says: Levi’s and I have a complicated relationship together. We used to be best friends, but as of late I haven’t been loving the brand as much. None of the 501s in the shorts or jeans varieties ever work for me, and in part it’s because this style is both not designed with curves in mind and have zero stretch. While I can’t recommend any 501s, I do still however love my tried-and-true Levi’s mid-length shorts. They’re the perfect length and have great stretch and minimal gapping, which are the exact things I look for when it comes to summer shorts.

Levi’s 501 Shorts, Abby’s Take

left: crewneck (M) | shorts (31) | similar sandals | similar tote

right: tee (M) | shorts (31) | socks | similar sneakers

Abby Says: Honestly, I put off trying the 501 shorts for years because I didn’t think they’d look great on my thick thighs, but I actually really like them. I wear them mostly when I’m not in the mood for a longer pair (on hotter or more casual days). This light blue wash is my fave, and the minimal distressing is perfect.

Details: I’m wearing a size 31 here, & I usually hop between 30 and 31. They do ride up between my thighs throughout the day, but I oddly don’t mind it in these because the material is so soft and not too restrictive. (I usually do mind that riding-up feeling in other shorts, btw — it’s a usual annoyance for me. *rolls eyes*)

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Levi's 501 jean shorts have classic cuts & look great w/ any summer outfit. But we're looking for the best of the best, for all body types. Do they measure up?
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Incredibly creative and artistic, Abby is the one we turn to for absolutely jaw-dropping, stunning curation. She’s got a knack for finding hidden gems and has the ability to make any space beautiful, plus her own style is enviable. Abby is one of the few team members who is not afraid of color, so her contributions (both digitally and in real life) feel like a breath of fresh air. She manages to come up with options that are both wildly original…and exactly what we want to wear.


  1. Shana, I love that green top on you! I cut my 501 cropped jeans into shorts and they are perfect! Right above the distressing…I also got them when they were $27!

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