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PRODUCT REVIEW: Levi’s 541 Athletic Fit & 531 Athletic Slim Jeans

Levi’s has been the leader in denim since they first put rivets on jeans in 1876. The iconic 501 has endured the test of time. However, that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been updates and innovations in fits and fabrics. Today we are looking at two of the most recent additions to the lineup: the Athletic Fit and Athletic Slim Fit.

The Short Story:

  • Athletic Fit can be thought of as a modern relaxed fit. A fit that gives you a little room in the seat and thigh, without being too loose
  • The legs of the jeans taper slightly (in the 541) or a lot (in the 531) to give a slimmer silhouette from the knee down to the ankle
  • These are a great fit if you have bigger upper legs but don’t want baggy jeans, or if you want some room in the hips, but a slim clean look down by your calf and ankle
Levi's Men's 541 Athletic Fit Jeans at Dave's New York    Levi's Men's 531 Athletic Slim Fit Jeans at Dave's New York
The Long Story:

After the trend in jean fits had gone slimmer, skinnier, and super-skinnier, some guys had had enough! There was a demand to relax the jeans, but not necessarily go “baggy.” Levi’s spent a lot time tinkering with the rise, the seat, the thigh, the knee, the leg... trying to build a new fit from scratch that would meet the demand of a more comfortable top-block without a baggy leg.

The first style to come out was the 541 Athletic Fit with a tapered leg. The “Athletic” top part of the jean was built for guys who needed a little more room in the seat and hips, but still wanted a comfortable rise (not too high and not too low). However, once you get past the upper part of the leg, Levi’s did not want to just have the jeans remain loose throughout. So the jeans started to taper in the middle of the thigh. You can see the shape start to narrow and continue throughout the leg. The tapering gives the jeans a slimmer and cleaner look, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of the jeans are slim. 

This, in turn, lead to the all-new 531 Athletic Slim Fit. The new 531s (just released last month) combines the modern-relaxed upper with the slimmer tapered leg that has become so popular. This jean gives you the same fit in the seat, thigh and hips as the 541, but it tapers even more than the 541. When you look at these jeans, you see that the leg of the 531 is narrower than the 541 from the thigh down to the ankle. The slimmer calf and ankle allows the wearer to style the jeans like a slim fit, but with the comfort of a relaxed seat. The 531 combines the best of both worlds.

Either fit can work for your style. For myself personally, I have worn the 541s for the last year because the jeans afforded me comfort without a lot of extra material in the leg. And now that we have the 531, I can use those when I want to wear a slimmer, cleaner look, without sacrificing the comfort in the seat and thigh. It basically allows a bigger guy like me to wear a jean with slimmer legs, which works well with sneakers and low boots. If you have trouble fitting into slim jeans, and don’t want to always wear loose fit, then I recommend trying on the Athletic Fit Jeans from Levi’s. Either the 541 or the new 531 (OR BOTH) could be great options for you.

Shop our 541 Athetlic Fit Jeans collection

Shop our 531 Athletic Slim Fit Jeans collection

Like this post? Check out our blog posts about other Levi's products:

TRENDING PRODUCTS: Levi’s Relaxed Fits

BRAND SPOTLIGHT: Levi’s & Sustainability

PRODUCT REVIEW: Levi's XX Chino Standard Taper Fit Pants

Adam, Dave’s New York



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Adam - January 19, 2021

Thanks for your feedback, Craig. So glad to hear that you found 2 styles that work so well for you, comfort-wise and style-wise! Hope to see you back again soon.

Craig - January 18, 2021

Adam is right on the mark. I work out 5x a week, so my legs are a bit more muscular than the average guy and traditional skinny jeans tend to be uncomfortable. I found the 541 and 531 are perfect, giving me the look I want while still a great fit for guys with some muscle in their legs.

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