These Are Literally The MOST Flattering Pair Of Jeans I've Worn

You know they're out there, because you’ve seen them in photos: They’re jeans that lie absolutely flat across your stomach, breaking just enough to suggest that the woman underneath isn’t actually suffocating. The denim is thick and substantial; you can make out the individual threads. There’s no stretch — obviously — and the legs are thin and tapered, ending right at the tops of your boots. They're dream jeans, and I breathe a prayer each time I enter a thrift store or log onto eBay that I’ll be lucky enough to come across a pair. In my entire life, I’ve found two: One was a pair of old Lee’s that I wore so often, the butt completely disintegrated. The other pair, I encountered on Monday.

Back let’s backtrack first: The jeans that spurred my search came from one image of Debbie Harry. Shot at a Blondie show at CBGBs, the jeans were slim-fit Levi’s, with a mid-rise zipper fly, and the unisex uniform of NYC punks in the early '70s. Says head of design at Levi’s, Jonathan Cheung, the 505s became a hit because, “it was subtly subversive. It was a slim fit for those times, and a zip fly carried a much heavier connotation with rebelliousness then.”

That image of Harry inspired a particularly fruitless obsession of mine, where I searched for vintage 505s on every corner of the internet and dusty thrift-store rack. While Harry’s (and The Ramones’, for that matter) were skin-tight, the ones I was coming across were slightly more relaxed, with a straighter leg. They were expensive, too. Says Cheung, “The price of vintage 505s has shot up.” It turns out that The Ramones’ jeans in particular were customized to be cut slimmer. I put my search on hold, considering that the holy grail jeans seemed to have come from a tailor’s studio. But, two days ago, Levi’s reached out to let me know that it was re-making the 505, with its punk origins in mind. With a zip fly, heavy deadstock fabric, and a slimmer cut, these 505c (“c” for “customized”) jeans had the potential to be it.

When I tried them on, the denim almost creaked and cracked it was so stiff. According to Cheung, the fabric was tracked down from a 1976 pair. The zipper fly created a flatter front (which was my only gripe about the button-fly Wedgies that were otherwise so close to perfect for me). The butt, too, was cut in that way that only vintage jeans seem to have. Says Levi’s chief product officer Karyn Hillman, it creates an “inverted heart, perky bum thing that vintage Levi’s do.” They looked almost too good to be true — in a way that gets jeans addicts nervous that that good pain will turn into no-good pain after five hours. But after a full day (and a full night out) in them, I felt the jeans had molded to my body like a glove. No pinching, no organ-crushing, but lots of compliments.

While I’m typically a vintage denim girl, this was one case that I’ll happily switch teams. Click through to see the different styles (named after the punk legends that first customized them), and the photo that started it all.
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Photographed by Richard Young.
Here's that Debbie Harry photo. According to Cheung, Debbie's jeans were men's Levi's 505s. Today, the 505c for women and men are still really similar (the differences are only more pronounced for larger sizes). The only real difference is that the women's pocket bags are smaller.
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Photo: Suzan Carson/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.
How could a photo like this not inspire a vintage jeans odyssey?
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Photo: LGI Stock/ Corbis/ VCG/ Getty Images.
Says Cheung, "When you see The Ramones, they basically reappropriated the uniform of biker gangs, subverting it further by customizing their 505s to make them slimmer."
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
Here's the Joey.

Levi's 505C in Joey, $98, available at Levi's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
Obviously, this is the Dee Dee.

Levi's 505C in Dee Dee, $98, available at Levi's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
This is The Marky.

Levi's 505C in Marky, $98, available at Levi's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
...and the Elvis (remember Clem Burke-era Ramones?). Gang's all here!

Levi's 505c in Elvis, $98, available at Levi's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
And here's the Patti. Top them off with a white button-up and no shoes.

Levi's 505C in Patti, $148, available at Levi's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
Levi's 505c in Elvis, $98, available at Levi's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
Levi's 505C in Joey, $98, available at Levi's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
Levi's 505C in Dee Dee, $98, available at Levi's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
Levi's 505C in Patti, $148, available at Levi's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
Levi's 505C in Atomic Blue, $98, available at Levi's.
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