Let’s all admit it, soaking and drying your 501′s is a huge part of the appeal of these pants. It’s the personal touch and the messiness and the smell of wet denim and the looks your significant other or friends give you when you tell them of bathing in your new blue jeans. What seems to be always true though, is if someone asks — and sometimes even if they don’t — you are eager to share the story of your shrink to fits starting with that initial soak.
So why not make it an interesting story? Here are some great ideas — some mine, some from the readers — of ways to start your jeans off with an adventure and a good story to boot.
Apparently, back in the early days of the 501, indoor plumbing was not nearly as common as it was today so folks would put on their new pants and hop in a horse trough, or a creek, or a water tower (ew). Later, counter culture youths would wear their jeans into the ocean or have shrink parties together in the bath tub. One of the common threads however, which I would hazard as a recommendation, is that one would shrink their jeans according to their lifestyle. (thanks for the info Steve!)
As a review the recommended steps to take is 30 minutes wearing them in a warm bath and then letting them dry on your body (approx. 6 hours). However, don’t let that stop you from experimenting; it would be awful boring if there were only one way to do it — and these jeans are anything but boring! Remember, while you are planning your soaking, try wearing your stiff new jeans with cuffs (turn ups) for a few weeks or months. This will only make them better after they are soaked and fitted to your body.
Many people have pointed out that both cold and warm baths work (warm shrinks more) as well as showers. Hot tubs, swimming pools, oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers, even gross horse troughs are all viable options. Outside is best for drying weather permitting, and moving around a little in your jeans while they dry is probably a good idea as well.
In the good weather your options are greatly increased: shrink them and go out for a walk, or to a bar, or the beach, or shrink them before going out on a saturday night (by the time you get home they’ll probably be dry). Maybe go to the mall or to a restaurant, although I would not recommend soaking in fountain unless you want to have a chat with security. It’s a good idea to get your friends involved and make a day of it. If you are in Chicago, maybe that means swimming in Lake Michigan and riding bikes around downtown.
Joe from Austin, TX left this comment:
I have always worn mine in a spa, hot tub or pool brand new and let them dry on. I’m a lifeguard and scuba diver so water is always near. You can adjust the fit of your Levis by doing a couple of deep knee bends, and also by providing lift in the crucial areas for good athletic support. Levis and Wranglers are the only brands that provide good support. Divers and open water guards wear Levis for protection from stings, abrasion and cuts [under water]. I live in Texas so the hot summer sun allows you to swim in Levis every day if you want and have them dry on. Some people will say that “jeans are heavy wet”. Not for intrepid swimmers. And, if you want to swim and free dive just add good dive boots and fins and you’ll become a fish [under water]. I do this all the time. In fact, dive shops carried Levis 512 Slimfit Jeans modified for aquatics and embroidered and labeled them “Levis Diveskins”.
Take Jesse’s experience for example: “I recently shrunk my first pair of jeans in a local lake and dried myself/them on the sun drenched dock. No bath tub cleaning for me!”
In the cold weather at home I tend to sit on a towel and watch and movie then do chores around the house. I you could also try taking a nap.
This year during the coldest month, I am going to be on a beach in Jamaica. I’m looking forward to soaking a new pair in the ocean and drying on the sand. That will be a great story to tell and to remember every time I wear those jeans.
Remember, be creative and be true to your lifestyle. Please share your experiences below, it’s fun to hear about people’s relationship to their Levi’s.