Levi’s is one of the most iconic and enduring American denim brands. Known for their quality craftsmanship and timeless styles, Levi’s jeans have been a staple for generations. Two of their most popular cuts are the 511 and 512.
Though similar, these two fits cater to different body types and styles.
This comprehensive guide will compare the Levi’s 511 and 512 cuts to help you determine which pair is the right fit for you. We’ll go over the key differences, pros and cons of each style, and provide style and fit recommendations.
There is also a handy comparison chart below to see the differences at a glance.
A Brief Comparison Table
|Snug from hip to ankle
|Roomier in thigh, tapers below knee
|Slim, <15 inches
|Slightly wider, 15-17 inches
|Slender builds, skinny jeans
|Athletic/muscular builds, casual style
Levi’s 511 Jeans Overview
Levi’s 511 jeans are a slim-fitting, skinny jean made with a low rise. This modern cut is designed to sit low on the hips and fit snugly from thighs to ankle for a sleek silhouette.
Some key attributes of the Levi’s 511 cut include:
- Slim profile: The 511 has a skinny leg all the way from the hip down. The cut is narrow through the hip and thigh, tapering down to a 14.5 inch leg opening.
- Low rise: The rise on the 511 jeans sits well below the waist, around 2 inches lower than a standard rise. This gives them a contemporary, hip-hugging fit.
- Snug fit: There is minimal extra room through the seat and thighs. The skinny fit hugs the body’s natural contours.
- Stretch fabric: The 511 jeans contain elastane for stretch and mobility. The amount varies by wash.
- Cropped lengths: The 511 comes in different inseam lengths, including 30 inch and 32 inch crops for a modern ankle-grazing fit.
The skinny profile and low rise of the Levi’s 511 make them best suited for slender figures. They cater to those who prefer a form-fitting, second skin jean.
The stretch material also allows for a tight look that moves with you. For curvier figures, the 511 can feel too clinging in the hips and thighs.
The 511 cut pairs well with slim shirts and footwear. Since they are a more dramatic skinny fit, they make your lower half the focus. The 511s create clean lines that can elongate legs for shorter individuals. They work well with sneakers or boots.
Pros of Levi’s 511 Jeans
- Slimming effect: The skinny leg is universally flattering and creates a lengthening effect. It makes legs appear longer and leaner.
- Modern look: The low rise and skinny leg provides an of-the-moment silhouette. The 511 cut offers a contemporary, fashion-forward style.
- Stretch and mobility: The elastane woven into the denim allows you to comfortably move around in the tight fit.
- Cropped lengths: The ankle-grazing options provide a fresh, youthful look that shows off shoes.
Cons of Levi’s 511 Jeans
- Too tight for some: The ultra slim fit hugs the body and may feel too snug for athletic builds or curvier figures. The thigh and hip area can fit too tightly.
- Low rise isn’t for everyone: Those who don’t like the feel of hip-hugging jeans may find the rise too low and revealing when bending over.
- Runs small: The skinny fit can run smaller than other cuts, so sizing up is often recommended for a less restrictive feel.
- Shows imperfections: The clingy fit highlights every flaw and bump. Bulges or saggy areas you want to hide may be accentuated.
Levi’s 512 Jeans Overview
The Levi’s 512 cut is also a slim fit, but not as skinny and tapered as the 511. It sits below the waist but not as low as the 511, so it has a mid rise. The leg gets slim through the thigh and tapers gently below the knee.
Here are some notable features of the 512 jeans:
- Slim-tapered profile: The 512 has a straight fit through the hip and thigh that tapers to slimmer leg opening. The leg opening is 15-17 inches.
- Mid rise: The rise hits around the natural waistline, 2-3 inches higher than the 511. It provides more coverage than a low rise style.
- Roomy top block: There is comfortable room through the hip and thighs to prevent a restrictive feel. The seat and thighs aren’t clinging.
- Tapered leg: From the knee down it gently tapers to create a slim, lean shape. But not an ultra-skinny one like the 511.
- Bit of stretch: The 512 contains a small amount of stretch for ease of movement. The denim is still sturdy and structured.
The 512’s roomier top block and tapered leg make them ideal for athletic body types or guys with bigger thighs. They accommodate more mass in the hips and thighs without feeling tight and binding. The mid rise offers enough coverage for your torso.
The 512 is also good for those seeking a slim but not skinny jean. The gentle taper creates a lean look that flatters most builds. Compared to the 511, the 512 has a more laidback, casual vibe.
The 512 jeans pair well with casual shirts, jackets, and footwear. Since they aren’t as skinny-fitting, they balance out chunkier sneakers or boots. The tapered leg still shows off your footwear but doesn’t visually cut your frame in half like the 511.
Pros of Levi’s 512 Jeans
- Roomier fit: Accommodates more mass in the hips and thighs without feeling restrictive. The top block isn’t overly snug.
- Universally flattering: The slim-but-not-skinny cut flatters most body types, slim to athletic. The taper creates a lean silhouette.
- Mid rise coverage: Provides enough rise coverage for your torso compared to low rise styles. Your backside and stomach don’t feel overly exposed when bending.
- Casual vibe: Has a relaxed, indie feel compared to the trendier skinny 511. Easy to dress up or down.
Cons of Levi’s 512 Jeans
- May be too roomy for some: Very slender figures can look a bit drowned in excess material through the hip and thigh.
- Not a dramatic skinny look: Doesn’t provide the figure-hugging silhouette or lengthening effect of a skinny jean.
- Less trend-driven: The 512 has a basic, casual style rather than the of-the-moment look of skinnier cuts. Not as forward as the 511.
- Tighter around calves: The taper below the knee creates a more fitted look around the calves that feels restrictive to some.
Now that we’ve gone over the key differences, pros, and cons of each cut, let’s move onto detailed fit advice and style recommendations.
How The Levi’s 511 Should Fit?
To get the intended look of the 511, a snug, second skin fit is ideal. When trying them on:
- The hips and thighs should fit close to the body but not painfully tight. With a little wear, the denim will stretch a bit.
- Expect some restriction through the thigh when sitting if you have bigger thighs. But you should be able to move comfortably.
- The leg opening at the ankle hits at 14.5 inches or smaller for the signature skinny look. Size down if the ankles are loose.
- Try different lengths to find your optimal inseam. Cropped 511s are very on-trend.
- The low rise should sit below your hips 2-3 inches lower than standard jeans. It will feel more revealing.
The 511 jeans cater to those with straight up-and-down figures. Curvier body types can size up for a less clingy feel. The stretch material does accommodate different shapes well when sized appropriately.
How The Levi’s 512 Should Fit?
For the intended 512 look, you want the top block to fit comfortably with a slender, tapered leg:
- The hips and thighs should have enough room to move freely. The denim shouldn’t pull or feel too restrictive.
- The thigh will have a more relaxed, casual fit compared to the 511 skinny thigh.
- Make sure the taper below the knee provides a narrower leg opening of 15-17 inches.
- The mid rise should hit right around your natural waistline with moderate front rise coverage.
- Try different inseams to get the right ankle length.
The 512 fit works well for athletic figures or stocky builds that need more room up top. The taper below the knee balances out bigger thighs for a lean look. For super slim figures, make sure the thigh doesn’t appear overly baggy.
Levi’s 511 Style Recommendations
To complement the 511’s skinny silhouette:
- Pair with slim-fitting knits, tees, and button-down shirts. Avoid loose or bulky tops.
- Jackets and coats should also fit trimly. Size down outerwear for a streamlined look.
- Wear the 511 jeans with low-profile footwear like converse, vans, or Chelsea boots. Chunky sneakers can clash with the skinny leg.
- Monochrome looks work well to elongate the figure in head-to-toe denim or black.
- Cuff the leg slightly to show off embellished sneakers and make legs appear even longer.
- For casual cool vibes, don a graphic tee, white sneakers, and black 511 skinnies. Finish with a bomber or moto jacket.
- Dress them up with a fitted blazer and loafers or low heels for nighttime.
Levi’s 512 Style Recommendations
To complement the 512’s roomier, tapered fit:
- Balance the tapered leg with straight-fitting button-downs, tees, and casual shirts. Avoid overly billowy tops.
- Most jacket styles work well, from trucker to leather to oversized. Size down if you don’t want to overwhelm the tapered leg.
- The 512s pair well with bulkier sneakers like Air Force 1’s. The leg opening doesn’t engulf the shoe.
- For casual flair, wear with a graphic tee, flannel, and white sneakers. Add a beanie for a laidback look.
- Dress up the 512 with an untucked collared shirt, sweater, and Chelsea boots.
- Cuff the leg opening slightly to display the ankle and show off statement socks.
Now that we’ve covered fit and style tips, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about the 511 and 512 cuts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The main differences are the rise, leg opening, and fit through the thigh and hip:
a) 511 has a low rise, 512 has a mid rise
b) 511 is skinny through the hip and thigh, 512 is roomier with a straight fit
c) 511 leg opening is 14.5 inches, 512 is 15-17 inches
The 512 has a slim, tapered fit but is not an ultra-skinny jean. It offers more room in the hips and thighs for comfort while still having a narrow leg opening. Most men find the 512 flattering yet not restrictive.
The 511 is intentionally a tight skinny fit. Those with athletic builds may find them too figure-hugging. For thinner frames, the stretch denim contours the body without being uncomfortable. It depends on your build and preferred look.
The 512 should fit straight through the hips and thighs with room to move. Below the knee, it gently tapers down to a leg opening of 15-17 inches for a slim look. The mid rise should hit around the natural waistline.
When trying to choose between Levi’s most popular cuts, consider your body type and style preferences. The 511 skinny provides a sleek, figure-hugging silhouette ideal for fashion-forward looks.
The 512 has a bit more room while still flattering your shape.
Hopefully, this comparison breakdown of fit, style, and key features helps guide you to the perfect pair. Both the 511 and 512 are quality, versatile jeans that will serve you well.
Just pick the cut that suits your needs and complements your unique build.