Once the tailoring secret of only the most in-the-know denimphiles, perfectly worn-in vintage jeans altered to a more modern cut have recently become an essential part of every fashion girl's wardrobe. Stretchy stovepipe silhouettes, of course, will always be a classic piece in our closets, but these days a stiffer, '90s-inspired look is what feels the most fresh; think options with a relatively high-rise that more hugs than squeezes.
Still searching for the perfect pair? That’s where we come in. We've scoured the Internet, asked around, and done some shopping of our own to bring you the best sources for repurposed blues around the country and cyber space.
What Goes Around Comes Around
351 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
Thanks to its in-house denim experts, the vintage jeans situation at luxury vintage shop WGACA is superb. While you can shop a selection online, we recommend hitting up one of the brand's stores in New York or Los Angeles for the full experience (not to mention a guaranteed perfect fit).
23 Howard Street
New York, NY 10013
Reformation has stores on both coasts, but we’re partial to the flagship in New York’s Soho neighborhood. While it may be most well known for its eco-friendly collection of clothes (the pieces are crafted from deadstock fabric using sustainable methods), the boutique's selection of vintage denim is also seriously on-point.
218 Thompson Street
New York, NY 10012
A longtime member of just about every “best vintage shopping in New York” list you can think of, Stella Dallas (and its sister store 10 Ft. Single) is a mecca for all manner of secondhand womenswear. Its impressive range of denim is no exception.
L Train Vintage
629 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
No Relation Vintage
204 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009
L Train Vintage and its various sister stores, including No Relation Vintage, throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn are a must if you don’t mind digging a bit and relish the satisfaction of a truly great score. The prices are reasonable and the selection is massive, so practice patience. (This market editor swears by No Relation in the East Village for its racks and racks of cutoff denim shorts from Levis and Wrangler; everything is roughly priced between $7 and $15.)
602 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Raggedy Threads is the second vintage shop to occupy this former bakery in Brooklyn, and you'll find no shortage of unique denim finds in this latest iteration. They specialize in Americana vibes—think old school (and ultra-worn in) T-shirts and Levi's galore.
Pop-up locations at 199 Lafayette and 138 Wooster
New York, NY 10012
This online vintage shop also has two pop-up brick-and-mortar locations in New York. Alison Syrett, InStyle's Fashion Writer, is a Vintage Twin devotee. "Although Vintage Twin is filled with all kinds of thrifted treasures—many of which have been tailored to modern fits—it’s worth stopping by for the reworked denim selection alone. Not only are there piles upon piles of secondhand options to sift through and try on, but upon finding that perfect, life-changing pair, the store allows to you customize the finished product with iron-on patches (available for $9), and gratis hemming. Warning: Don’t stop by unless you’ve got a few free hours to fill.”
7934 W 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Not only does Denim Revival boast an epic denim bar in Los Angeles's iconic American Rag, but it also has a free-standing store on West 3rd Street. Hit it up for a new-to-you pair of jeans or bring in your own used pieces for expert alterations and repairs.
2840 College Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705
Slash, with its two levels of both vintage and contemporary denim (it specializes in Levis), is reason enough to make a shopping pilgrimage out to Oakland. Its knowledgeable staff and wide range of jeans (referred to by one reviewer on Yelp as “a bunker made of stacks and stacks of jeans”) has earned the outpost a stellar reputation far beyond the Bay Area.
Rose Bowl Flea
1001 Rose Bowl Drive
Pasadena, CA 91103
(second Sunday of every month)
Like any good flea market, the Rose Bowl Flea is an epic maze that requires at least half a day to conquer. The caveat: Prime shopping happens around sunrise—early birds are allowed in between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. for a cool $20—so plan on setting an alarm (and bringing an XXL mug of coffee).
Wasteland (San Francisco and LA)
1660 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
7428 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
The hand-picked vintage wares at Wasteland are so good its expanded from one shop in Berkeley to four locations: three around the Los Angeles area and one in San Francisco. Fun Fact: It boasts a history that includes inspiration visits from designers ranging from Marc Jacobs to Miuccia Prada.
1282 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Recommended by experts via Jean Stories, this relatively new and highly curated vintage shop in Echo Park has quickly become a favorite for vintage denim lovers well beyond the Los Angeles area.
The Holy Grail of refurbished denim, Re/Done known for its masterful remixes of classic Levi’s cuts; its pricing (around $160 for shorts and $270 for jeans) reflects the care and detail that goes into tailoring and altering each one-of-kind pair. Outside of the label's digital homebase, you'll find Re/Done denim via luxury retailers like Nordstrom, Barneys, Matches Fashion, and Intermix.
For a curated collection of old school blues that includes a selection of Levi’s, Lee, Gap, and Wrangler, put Denim Refinery on the top of your shopping bookmarks. We love that DR’s online shop also includes jackets, skirts, and funky one-offs (like a 1970s Budweiser bandana).
Thanks to its in-house "Urban Renewal" brand, Urban Outfitters has become an affordable destination for vintage and recycled pieces ranging from cutoff shorts, to button-down blouses, to concert T-shirts.
It might not be the most sophisticated e-commerce site out there, but Beyond Retro has a vast selection of vintage wares, including pages and pages of jeans, overalls, denim shorts. Better yet, its prices are extremely reasonable (albeit listed in British pounds.)
Check on Free People’s vintage denim page frequently—the collection is small, and each pair is only available in one size. An excellent source if you're searching for something extra special, like a one-of-a-kind pair of paint-splattered wide-leg jeans from the 1960s.