Levi's vintage big E jacket style3

Denim is really beautiful in the way it frays and fades. Most cotton twills used for workwear age in this way – losing their saturation at wear points as the surface dye rubs away. But the thickness and indigo dye of denim make it particularly attractive.                 

This is part of our How Great Things Age series. And the second in a short series looking at vintage items in my collection. The first was a Barbour motorcycle jacket, which has a very particular patina due to the wax applied to lightweight cotton.

Levi's vintage big E jacket style2

Levi's vintage big E jacket style close up

The Levi’s denim jacket wears its scars much more palpably, with obvious bleaching and missing stitches on all raised areas, and extreme fraying on exposed points like the collar. In the full-length photo you can just see the area of the left sleeve where a patch has been sewn on and later removed, showing an earlier colour of the jacket underneath.

This is a ‘big E’ Levi’s jacket, referring to the red label on the pocket that was written LEVI’S until 1971 and Levi’s subsequently. The fact it has pointed rather than square chest pockets, however, means it is a Type II jacket, placing it somewhere in the 1960s.

Levi's vintage big E jacket style
Aside from the aesthetically pleasing ageing process, I like denim jackets in the spring and summer to mix up an otherwise formal outfit (by most people’s standards). Slim cream-linen trousers and a button-down shirt, for example, work well with a jacket like this thrown over the top. The fact that vintage jackets are cropped so short makes them particularly suited to bespoke trousers that sit slightly higher on the hips.

(They’re also cheap – for readers who recently requested recommendations on good-value classics.)

Levi's vintage big E jacket style collar

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Hello Simon,

This might fit an earlier post, regarding your Cutler and Gross sunglasses. Have you considered commissioning bespoke sunglasses from Oliver Goldsmith?


This is a type-III*

Piyu Huang

this is definitely a Type III jacket from the 1970’s and not a Type II from the 60’s


Hi Simon,

Was wondering if you would/do still wear this kind of denim jackets?

If yes, do you have a preference between Type 1, 2 or 3?thanks.


Hi Simon, this is a type III jacket, not a type II. Also known as a 557 or 70505 (Levi’s product codes, think 501)


Hey Simon,
Just purchased a big E based on this article.
Two things I’ve noticed that I’d be curious on your opinion with-
1. It’s very close fitting . Certainly it fits perfectly with a t shirt- chest arms shoulders all perfect, but the short cut makes it feel almost too short, and I actually don’t find it working well with high waisted trousers. I’m curious if you sized up with this or stuck to a “close” fit ?
2. I find it looks Herat with shirts or t-shirts untucked, less so with them tucked in. Any idea why that might be from a fit or style perspective?


Which type Levi’s denim jacket (1, 2 or 3) would be the most versatile, especially in high-low combinations, such as the one you described in the article?


If you were to commission one, which one would you chose?