Levi’s 501 vs 550 Jeans Compared (my Review w/ Pics)


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This article is a comparison of Levi’s 501 vs 550 jeans. The 501 jeans have an original straight fit, and the 550 jeans have a relaxed fit. You can expect the 550 jeans to have a looser fit than the 501 jeans, especially in the thighs.

If you prefer a loose or straight fit, these are your best Levi options:

The 550 jeans are modeled after the iconic 501 jeans, only the 550 jeans have much more room in the legs. Above the knee, the 550 jeans have much more room in the thighs. Here is a look at my 501 jeans sitting on top of my 550 jeans:

levi-501-vs-550-jeans

The 550 jeans are also looser below the knee, but taper near the leg opening. Here is a look at the 501 vs 550 jeans below the knee:

levi-501-vs-550-leg-opening

Here is a look at my 550 jeans near the ankle:

550-levis-leg-opening-shoe

Here is a look at my 501 jeans near the ankle:

501-levis-leg-opening-shoe

In this article we are going to focus specifically on comparing the 501 vs 550 Levi jeans using real photos. Below, we will begin our comparison by discussing the difference in fit between the 501 and 550 jeans.

  • Levis 501 Original Jeans – This is one of Levi’s most iconic styles. The 501 jeans have a regular cut through the thigh, and a straight cut below the knee. They will show some shape through the hips and thighs. We review these jeans in this article. Click here to view these jeans at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
  • Levi’s 550 Men’s Jeans – The 550 jeans are styled very similarly to the iconic 501 jeans, only they have extra room in the seat and thighs. These jeans have a relaxed fit, with a leg that tapers near the ankle to show some shape. We review these jeans in this article. Click here to view these jeans at Amazon (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).

What size to order?

In my experience, both the 501 and 550 jeans have a true-to-size fit, meaning the waist and the length was what I expected. My recommendation is to stick to your normal sizing when ordering these jeans. Just remember that the 550 jeans are a relaxed fit that come with space built in.

Levi’s 501 vs 550 Fit

What is the difference between Levi’s 501 and 550?

The difference between the Levi 501 and 550 jeans comes down to fit. The 501 jeans are a regular, classic fit that is going to show some shape (but not hug your legs). The 550 jeans are going to be a more relaxed fit than the 501 jeans, with more space in the legs (especially the seat and thighs). Although the cut of the legs is different, the leg opening size of these jeans is very similar (more on that later).

501550
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
FitStraightRelaxed
Leg Opening16″16″*
SitsSits at WaistSits at Waist
FlyButtonZip

***This article is property of workwearcommand.com. Check Price link in table are affiliate links that take you to Amazon.com (info)***

Again, overall you can expect the 550 jeans to have a roomier cut than the 501 jeans, especially through the thighs and hips. The 501 jeans have a classic fit that aren’t super tight and narrow like skinny jeans, but do fit close enough to show a bit of shape, especially above the knee.

Below the knee the 501 Levi’s have a straight cut, which is still going to be narrower than the 550 jeans, but will have plenty of space. Here is a look at my 501 jeans sitting on top of my 550 jeans:

levi-501-vs-550-jeans

As you can see, the 501 jeans are slimmer through the thigh and seat area than the 550 jeans. Here is a look at the 501 vs 550 jeans below the knee:

levi-501-vs-550-leg-opening

Here is a look at me wearing both the 501 and the 550 jeans. Again, you can see that the 501 jeans are a bit more fitted through the thighs than the 550 jeans:

501 Jeans

550 Jeans

Leg Opening

I found conflicting information online when I tried to find the official sizing of the 550 leg opening. Some information said the 550 leg opening was bigger than the 501 leg opening, but that is not the case with my jeans. I am just going to give you the information that I have based off the actual jeans that I own (32 waist).

My 501 and 550 jeans have the same size leg opening (approximately 16 inches). Here is a look at my 501 jeans sitting on top of my 550 jeans:

levi-501-vs-550-leg-opening

As you can see, yes, the 550 legs are wider, but the leg opening itself is the same size. In general, I would just advise you to expect the same size leg openings between these two styles.

The actual fit itself below the knee in these two styles is quite different. While the 501 jeans have a straight cut below the knee, the 550 jeans actually taper in right near the leg opening.

Overall, this means that you can expect the 550 jeans to be a bit baggier below the knee than the 501 jeans. The 501 jeans will have more of a straight cut while the 550 jeans, although baggier, will taper in near the ankle to a leg opening the same size as the 501 jeans.

The 550 jeans taper because they don’t want the relaxed fit to carry all the way through to the leg opening (thus resulting in a large 18-20 inch leg opening). So they taper the 550 jeans in a bit near the ankle to keep the leg opening more of a standard size. Here is an idea of how these jeans fit near the ankle:

501 Jeans

550 Jeans

***This article is property of workwearcommand.com***

Other Options Besides 501 and 550

  • As I mentioned earlier, if you are debating between 501 vs 550, you will want to consider the 505 jeans, which sort of fall in the middle (as far as fit) between the 501 and the 550 jeans. Expect the 550 jeans to have breathing room in the thighs, but still show some shape. The 505 jeans are great casual jeans.
  • If you prefer a loose fit, then between the 501 and the 550, you will want to choose the 550 jeans. If you are concerned even the 550 jeans might be a bit too tight, then I would suggest checking out the 569 jeans. The 569 have a loose-straight fit and give your legs plenty of breathing room.
  • If you want to consider another brand, the Lee Premium Select Classic-Fit Straight-Leg Jeans will have a fit that falls somewhere in-between the 501 and the 550 jeans. This pair of Lee jeans has the classic straight fit from the hip through the ankle, and can fit in both casually and professionally.
levi-501-vs-550

Where to Buy?

501 Jeans

Click here to buy the Levi 501 jeans at Amazon (paid affiliate links takes you to Amazon.com). Again, in my experience, these jeans fit true-to-size.

550 Jeans

Click here to buy the Levi 550 jeans at Amazon (paid affiliate links takes you to Amazon.com). Remember, these jeans will be more relaxed through the legs than the 501 jeans.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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