When Levi’s introduced their men’s 511 Commuter Skinny Jeans in 2011, the special features — a U-lock holder hidden in the waistband, a gusset in the crotch to protect against wear and extra-deep front pockets — were a revelation.
But when I went back and re-read my review, I noticed that what initially attracted me to the men’s pants, and prompted me to buy them, was not those features, but the hand and weight of the fabric. As I’ve been wearing the new Levi’s Commuter Skinny Jeans for women to pedal around town, it’s the comfort of the mid-weight, 11.3 oz. denim that once again holds my attention.
True, there’s no U-lock holder or reinforcement in the crotch of the Levi’s Commuter Jeans for women, which has been a source of complaint in some reviews on the Levi’s website. And ladies, I get that.
But for me, the less bulk the better in a women’s pant, and I recall that the gusset in the crotch of the men’s pant took some getting used to.
What I look for in the growing array of apparel choices designed for everyday cycling is a satisfying combination of performance characteristics and style. And mostly, I like the bike-friendly features to stay in the background because that gives the garment maximum versatility on and off the bike.
And so, it’s the soft, brushed interior of these pants, along with the feminine fit, that have already persuaded me to order two additional pairs.
The fabric composition, which is 94 percent cotton, 4 percent polyester and 2 percent elastane (a hint more than the men’s version), lends just enough stretch for comfort and freedom of movement while pedaling. In addition, the pants are coated with an Ecorepel® finish for water and mud resistance.
The high-waisted cut simultaneously delivers two benefits: it provides coverage, and it’s an on-trend look for spring and summer. I’ve noticed some mutterings of “mom jeans,” but I don’t find the slim, close fit consistent with those. Still, I would agree with some people who have observed that the waist could be dropped a bit in the front to minimize cutting in when reaching forward to a drop bar.
The leg is pegged, conforming to the classic skinny cut that’s so easy for summer wear. Note, however, that only one inseam size is offered, compared with a variety of options in the men’s pant. As with the men’s version, the reflective tape for night visibility that is revealed when the pant leg is turned back is substantially constructed and also generous in length. So you can turn them up high on the drive side to avoid grease if your bike is without a chain guard.
The front pockets are not as luxuriously deep as those on the men’s pants – into which I could dump keys, lipstick, comb and more – but they are more generous than the pockets of most women’s jeans. The roomy back pockets sit nicely on the curve of the butt, just where you want them.
With respect to sizing, I would advise starting off with a snug fit. The fabric of the pants does give with wear.
The jeans come in three colors: black, monument (slate) and city scape (dark blue). They can be worn casually with a T-shirt and sneakers or dressed up with heels and a blazer or leather jacket. I’ve already paired the black jeans with a silk blouse and gold sandals in the evening.
The Levi’s are a pretty smart buy, too. Compared with women’s designer jeans, which routinely set you back $150 and up (way up!), these retail for $88.
The Commuter Skinny Jeans are part of a new collection of denim wear for female bicycle commuters, which the company says is part of a wider focus on how women wear jeans and how Levi’s can introduce new concepts to appeal to women. In addition to the jeans, the collection includes jackets, shirts and shorts in performance fabrics. View it here. And the Levi’s men’s commuter line can be found here.