Clothes of the Seventies, Swabbies Jeans

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Type of clothing:
When it was popular:
Description: Very popular in Seattle. Navy type jeans with button fly and bell bottom legs. A MUST in '74 & '75.
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User Stories and Comments

The following are comments left about Swabbies Jeans from site visitors such as yourself. They are not spell checked or reviewed for accuracy.

Michele - July 24, 2009 - Report this comment
Nobody in Tacoma believes me about Swabbies. there was a store in Bellevue called Saturdays that sold them in all colors. my sisters and I loved them. If they had them now, they'd be back in style!!!
Valerie - August 02, 2009 - Report this comment
Yes, yes, yes! Went to school in Shoreline and swabies were an absolute must. And they had to have the anchors on the buttons to ensure they were the real deal. We actually went to the Navy Surplus on 1st ave downtown to buy them. The reason I found this site is because I was looking to see if they were still sold anywhere online!
jon - August 09, 2009 - Report this comment
Blocks Army & Navy. was the place. I would give big bucks for a pair.
Linn - August 22, 2009 - Report this comment
When I was in HS, my dad would take me to 1st ave in Seattle,to buy my 2 pr. for the school yr. I was just telling my husband about them. I told him about the anchor buttons. Can't remember how many buttons they had. I love them and at 54, if I could find them, I'd definately wear them!
Joel - October 10, 2009 - Report this comment
Got a 70s theme halloween party coming up, so googled swabbies to see if I could find them. Didn't know they were mostly a Seattle thing. I do remember that they fell apart real fast. Those buttons used to pop off like tiddly winks. Certainly wouldn't be any better on my 53 yo bod.
Melissa - October 14, 2009 - Report this comment
Yes - Blocks Army Navy Surplus. THE place to buy Swabbies. Man, they looked great on guys with the platform shoes, but you had to make sure the bottoms drug just a little on the floor. My crush in Jr Hi had yellow cords, and wow - did he look hot in them! Silky shirt, unbuttoned w-a-a-ay down, puka shells, and those black platform shoes. Yum!
Marci - January 19, 2010 - Report this comment
Swabbies Jeans was the thing to wear in the 70's. I was in 7th grade (1975). The cool "thing" to do was rip the little tag from the back of someone else's Swabbies. You had to be careful nobody got close enough to swipe your tag.
Carol - February 16, 2010 - Report this comment
OMG Swabbie's were the best. I had them in every color yellow, white, pink, baby blue, etc. blue jeans, cords. They were a must have in your closet. And what they did for the view from the rear. I found this site when I was looking online to see if they still existed, if they did I would buy them by the truckload. Those and Army Cook White's I would give alot of money for them now. I can't imagine the number of time's I took the bus down Highway 99 from Des Moines to go to Block's Surplus.
elljaye - February 21, 2010 - Report this comment
I bought my Swabbies at The Gap in Lynwood WA around 1971. I wore them almost every day all through high school. When ever they got a hole in them I would embroider a patch (usually a paisley or peace sign )over the whole until year they were almost completely a patch work. The Gap has a line of retro clothes called "1969" to commemorate the year they opened. But NO Swabbies! I talked to the manager (not even born yet to remember) and told her the best commemoration would be to bring back the Swabbie, she was kinda snooty to me as if I was too old to even KNOW what is cool. I told her she didn't know the history of the Gap if she didn't know what Swabbies were.
Connie - May 26, 2010 - Report this comment
Loved them, and I do think they would be popular again.
Carey - July 16, 2010 - Report this comment
I remember wearing them back in the day. But it's spelled Swaby's. The only reason I know this for sure is that I have a pair with the tag still on. Dark blue cords, near perfect. Not sure of the size.. I'm guessing somewhere around 32-34 waist and 34-36 length. I tried them on once and found them to be extremely comfortable and looked awesome. Totally stylin'!
Carey - July 16, 2010 - Report this comment
Oh, and if I remember correctly... if you turned in ten Swabys tags, you got a free pair. Hence the ripping off of the tags.
Karla - September 20, 2010 - Report this comment
Carey! You must send me a pic of your swaby tag and jeans... LOL I have been searching for a pic of them... I wore them in elementary... and no one knows what I am talking about. You would rip the tag off...if you got X number of tags you got a free pair I believe.
Christy - October 05, 2010 - Report this comment
I have been hunting for Swabbies for years, Wow finally found people that remember them. They sure did have a great fit and looked so good on. Also were so comfortable. I used to steal my brother's because they fit perfectly, he actually let me steal them, but then he would always complain that I stretched them out LOL Wish I could find some today.
TJ - October 20, 2010 - Report this comment
@ Michelle I remember Saturdays in Bellevue very well! I grew up within walking distance, and went there every chance I got. They had LOTS of Swaby's, as well as Star Jeans and whatevr else was in at the moment...but mostly Swabys! To say they had lots of colors is an understatement. I myself had dark blue denim, light blue denim, white, grey cords, tan cords, light blue cords. Loved them all! Our mom hated that kids tried to pull off the tags, so she always sewed the tags down wheneve we got a new pair - LOL. They looked great with Nikes or Wallabes! A silk shirt was also a must. Add a cool thick leather belt, and you were good to go : )
Carolyn - January 27, 2011 - Report this comment
I bought Swabys at Saturdays at Northgate Mall in the late 70's.. They came in jean material and cords.. several colors.. navy, light tan, dark brown...then it was Star jeans.. first one star then 3, then 5... what a racket!!!
JH - May 16, 2011 - Report this comment
WOW!!! This is funny...I was telling a guy the other day about Swabbie button fly jeans not the zipper ones they had to have anchor buttons and a goody comb in the rear pocket with white gauze shirt and either earth shoes or nike bruins...I do believe Seattle navy syrplus was the place to go until commercailized in the late 70"s..AAhh!! Kenmore Wa. Summer Days
Doug - August 07, 2011 - Report this comment
My mom got a hold of one used pair and sewed me and my sisters homemade swabbies....I had the only yellow Corduroy swabbies I know of.
Deidre - August 29, 2011 - Report this comment
I lived in Vallejo, CA. and we always bought them at the army/navy store. Not only were they in style, they fit well and were inexpensive!
Lisa - November 07, 2011 - Report this comment
Wow, this is great! I lived in Juanita and my mom used to take me to blocks downtown to get them. Had to have them in every color. Somebody somewhere must sell these babies? They were awesome and would definately be in style today. I too have a pair somewhere, almost completely covered in patches. What a trip.
Ange' - December 01, 2011 - Report this comment
I actually have several pairs of Swabbies with anchor buttons and tags!! My husband wants to sell them. Not sure how to go about it though. eBay? Any suggestions?
Gary - December 20, 2011 - Report this comment
Hahahaha..this is great! Kirkland kid.. if you didn't have Swabbies you were a geek! Saturdays in Bellevue.. hey .. better than parachute pants I guess..hahahaha too funny.. damn I'm old!!
Jon - January 14, 2012 - Report this comment
I remember they were a big deal. My sister was a junior high cheerleader in Bellevue in 1974 so she HAD to have Swabys. My brother had his whole pocket torn off when somebody tried to rip off his red tag. We all heard the urban legend about collecting so many tags and they'd give you a free pair, but where did you get the free pair? That was always the unknown part of the legend. We also went to Blocks downtown, but there was also a surplus store near Crossroads in Bellevue in the mid to late 70's that was a place that sold them. My parents even had a pair of them and somewhere kicking around is a picture of the 30 somethings wearing them on safari in Africa. Dad kept his as "yard pants" until the early 80's and I was always so embarrassed to see him running errands in his Swabys. Now I'd kill to have his old Swabys! People here in Arizona never heard of them. I don't know if you could buy them at the Squire Shop or Bernies and Bottoms, but they were a fond memory,
peanut butter - February 05, 2012 - Report this comment
We all loved the swaby's but they were very very very wide wide leg. They went out when the San fransico riding gear came in with a taper and a more boot cut. xo to the swaby's life
Leslie Clement - February 18, 2012 - Report this comment
If you had Swabies, you had to have the "waffle stomper" boots to go with them. Long before "doc Martins" When the knees & cuffs of the swabies got too worn - you cut them off just below the pocket & had a pair of way too short shorts. This was also around the time of Hot Pants and little outfits called "Sizzlers", a shirt/hot pants combo that were WAY to revealing for 17 year old girls to be wearing to school
Ruth Reeves - February 23, 2012 - Report this comment
I used to buy mine from the Navy Surplus store on 1st Ave in Seattle. I loved those jeans. They were so comfortable. If someone could find some I would buy them again. I know they don't make the original SWABY brand anymore but I found a vintage Navy clothing store on line that has similar jeans. Swaby's, waffle stompers, cool shirt and windbreaker. Ahh, it's 1974 again.
lori mcgladrey - July 16, 2012 - Report this comment
I think Blocks Army Navy Surplus in Seattle was the only place you could get the Original Swaby Jeans, Button Fly, with Anchors on them. Any place else was a copycat version. My Mom would drive me into Seattle and buy me them for School ... before that it was Levi 501 original jean...and saddle shoes with the flap over the top. I was in high school between 72 & 76. Style was great!
Linda - July 17, 2012 - Report this comment
Wow I just googled this and guess I am not crazy... No one understood the fad of the swabby tag and how cool these jeans were! Wish I still had my collection of tags!
Solar - December 11, 2012 - Report this comment
I am from Portland. Looking for the Xmas commercial from The Squire Shop. A classic! If anybody knows, please turn me on to it. Thanks!
Ken - December 12, 2012 - Report this comment
My great-grandfather was David Block of Block's Army-Navy. We lived in Portland but whenever we would visit Seattle we went to the store on 1st & Pike and Papa Dave would give us Swaby's pants and other clothes. They were not as popular in Portland as they were in Seattle, but I did love them. I had MANY different pairs over the years! My uncle Alvin Block took over the business from his dad and they expanded, opening additional Block's stores around the Seattle area. Unfortunately, times changed and Swaby's pants went out of style. The company did not survive, probably for two main reasons. First, they probably over-expanded. Second, they tried to become a store that sold trendy clothes for young people instead of sticking with the successful original concept of a military surplus shop. I miss those days and I'd love to see more photos of Swaby's. Of course, I just need to look at old photos of my family to remember what the pants looked like--we have plenty of pictures of us wearing them.
Kelley Akin - February 19, 2013 - Report this comment
I just wanted to see if anyone else rememberd swabbies they had to have 5 button! Or no good I had a swade leather jacket to go with and harnis boots as well and in califonia they had the same pants but they called them gorilla jeans with a little gorilla tag on the back. Damn Good times in the 70s lol.
Rebekah - February 26, 2013 - Report this comment
Finally - others searching for Swaby's! My older sister looked great in hers along with the big platform shoes from Nordstrom Best. Anyone remember the 'Nordy' balloon and salt-water sandals?
Bob - May 16, 2013 - Report this comment
Grew up in Edmonds, just north of Seattle. Was in Junior High 71-74, Swabbys were De Rigueur. Patch pockets front and back, really lightweight denim. Thinkn we bought ours at the Army Navy Surplus just east of hwy 99 on 196th in lynnwood. Maybe eventually available at "Everybodys" at the corner of 99 and 196th. I seem to remember the being $4.50 when 501's were $6. Wore them with Waffle Stompers, Wallabies, or those big square toed suede and leather saddle shoes that were cool before platforms. Moved to California at semester of 9th grade and the girls were wearing "Ditto" jeans in all the pastel colors etc. Those things had a seam up and over the rear that was VERY flattering. Then Brittania jeans in all of their incarnations including "Windowpane" stitching. Anybody remember those?
Bob - May 16, 2013 - Report this comment
...and yes I remember the Nordy balloons, flat cardboard feet on a bowling pin shaped balloon! Wore shoes from Nordstrom 's when that's all they sold. Remember the little 3-stairs up and 3-stairs down that you would climb to check out the fit.
Karin - May 28, 2013 - Report this comment
We grew up (and went to school in Lynnwood) and we bought our Swabys at the Army Surplus in Everett, you HAD TO have Swabys! Then the next fad was the star jeans called HASH Jeans. Both looked great with my blue suede waffle stompers!
Nancy - June 30, 2013 - Report this comment
Went to edmonds junior high 72-75. Swabbies would sell out so fast at Frederick and Nelson's. They looked great with a shirt that showed your stomach
Niceto - July 08, 2013 - Report this comment
Swabbies were the sh*t when I was in middle school. And the rumor was that if you collected 12 pairs you could trade the tags in for a free pair! I never had 12 pairs. But what I had looked fierce with my puka shell necklace, my Members Only jacket, and my Sun Backer shoes. That's how we rolled in Renton!!
Niceto - July 09, 2013 - Report this comment
P.S. If you were a girl you wore them with Famolare Hightheres!
kathyr - September 11, 2013 - Report this comment
Lighthouse Uniform Co. on the ave, Seattle U District 1972.
Denise - October 21, 2013 - Report this comment
I had 2 friends and our mothers called us the 3 musketeers who didn't know how to tell time. We'd ride the old Metro bus to downtown Seattle and go to Pike and 1st Avenue and buy swabbies for the school year in every color. They were cool! I'd wear them again at the age of 56.
Nick - November 06, 2013 - Report this comment
As a Brit, I spent the summer in Kirkland in 1974, and bought a couple of pairs of blue Swabys with anchor buttons to take back to England. Sure they are in the loft somewhere - great jeans - everyone of my Seattle friends had them.
Earl Adams - December 12, 2013 - Report this comment
I bought 2 pair in 1970 from a buddy who had parents serving at a local Navy Base when I was in high school in El Centro,CA. Needless to say, they were the most comfortable jeans I ever owned! I'd love to find another pair today!
Teri - August 04, 2014 - Report this comment
I had fun reading all the comments about where you got your Swabys. I was a little younger but my sisters fought over the ones they had as to who got to wear them that day!
BB - October 24, 2014 - Report this comment
Lighthouse uniform under the Magnolia bridge always had them. Worn with a surfer t-shirt (wide horizontal stripe, white and a primary color),probably would still look like summer.
Valerie - October 24, 2014 - Report this comment
I always bought my swabys at Saturdays in Bellevue, but the best was when we bought my a Dad a Swaby suit; jacket and pants navy blue with blue print shirt and.... White shoes. He looked sharp
Julie - November 02, 2014 - Report this comment
I graduated from Edmonds High school in 1977. Oddly enough, my mom and I were just talking about these. She claimed they were very high priced and said they sold for $30. I think that's wrong! I only had two pairs and got them at Frederick and Nelson so they might have cost more too. But I can distinctly remember her telling me, "What's wrong with Levis?" And then the prices. Levis were $5 and Swaby's were $12. Does anyone else remember what the price was?
Trina - February 18, 2015 - Report this comment
I'm searching everywhere for Star Jeans ~ it's as though they never existed! Anyway, I grew up in Bvue and the shoe de riguer was the Wallabee with our Swabbys. Had to be! Famolare was the runner up. I found a pair of Swabbys at Red Light Vintage!
Nancy - April 06, 2015 - Report this comment
I purchase star jeans in British Columbia 75'76. I didn't know about them until these girls in burnaby told me where to get them. I forgot what the name of store was.
Karen - June 13, 2015 - Report this comment
I scored a pair of swabys at buffalo exchange. They are cut offs but I still love the fit and styling. I was there helping my daughter shop. She thought I was crazy when I said I loved them. Now two years later this exact style is not the runway at 400 a pop and she wants to steal them!
Jim - December 09, 2015 - Report this comment
These jeans were a huge deal on Mercer Island. I remember the whole "rip the tag" off craze. It got so bad that the principal at West Mercer Elementary had to issue a specific rule against ripping off the tags. Both guys & girls wear them. I got mine at Saturdays in Belle Square!
Donna - March 24, 2016 - Report this comment
My mom bought me a "knock-off" version at JC Penny at Southcentr. She said the Swaby brand was too expensive. One of the guys at Denny Jr. High gave me a Swaby tag he ripped off of someone's pants. I sewed it onto my "knock-off" brand. Like I was fooling any one! There either vintage or not.
Cindy - May 22, 2016 - Report this comment
I would get mine at Saturdays at Northgate Mall. Also the star shirts! WOW! Great memories!
Karen Francis - August 11, 2016 - Report this comment
I wore swabbies or Swabys however you spell it in the 5th grade until the late 70's. Bought them at Frederick and Nelsons at Southcenter for 5.50 a pair and also at Blocks Army Navy in downtown Seattle. If I could find them now I would certainly buy them.
Darryll Sherman - March 15, 2017 - Report this comment
TOTALLY relate with you, Karen. I don't remember buying them at Frederick and Nelsons (which would have been at Aurora Village for this Richmond Beach native) but I completely remember making specific trips to Blocks Army Nave Surplus in downtown Seattle to buy them. I love all things '70s and even ended up writing a fun book about growing up back then! It's called "My '70s Book" you can check it our on line - you might enjoy it. I wrote it for our generation to reminisce and enjoy some fun memories.
Bill McTaggart - June 12, 2017 - Report this comment
We bought them at the Frederick and Nelson at Aurora Village. We would call every day to see if a new shipment had arrived. It was like a mob scene when they put the new stock out.
James - July 04, 2017 - Report this comment
We used to buy them at the Saturdays at Northgate Mall. Not sure if this was everywhere but at my school the rumour was if you could collect ten swabby tags (off the back) you would get a free pair of jeans. So everyone was running down the hallway ripping the tags off your jeans. Star Jeans were much safer!
CS - July 06, 2017 - Report this comment
Found a brand new pair of the sailor pant Swaby's with the 5 button fly and anchor buttons, tags still attached and all, at a local flea market for just $15. The receipt from '79 was even in the pocket! Apparently they sold for $3.05 at the time. I really wish they still made clothes like that. I'm 19, and wearing them makes me all nostalgic for a time that I never even lived in. I found this page because I was googling the brand! It makes sense that they were a Seattle thing. The receipt I found in the pocket was from a store in Seattle. Wonder how they found their way down to California in brand new condition. It's like they were tucked away in a time capsule this whole time. I took pictures of the tag and receipt for my own novelty because I HAD to wear them, ripping the tags off really did hurt a little, so I had to document. If I could find a truckload of these pants in all the colors, I think I'd die of happiness.
PDF - September 03, 2017 - Report this comment
Around Seattle in the early 70's, you were a real 'duck' if you didn't have a pair of swabbies. We moved from Bellevue to SoCal in 1974. At high school there it was "Like, where'd you get those pants?" The Nordy song still lives in my head, lol: When Nordy was a traveller in the Great Northwest, "I tried to find a good place to build my little nest!" It was then that he discovered the answer to his quest, and he joined the happy people, down at Nordstrom Best!
Velvetbag - February 27, 2020 - Report this comment
Omg I loved swabbing jeans I almost forgot what they looked like. My mom took me to Saturday’s in north gate mall to buy them. When you wore your brand new jeans to school kids would try to rip the tag off the back. Good memories of 7 th grade.
Leah - September 12, 2020 - Report this comment
I found this site when searching to see if Swabys were still made. We wore them in high school 1972-1973, both male and female and purchased them from Blocks Army Navy downtown. I remember them being around $4.50 a pair. They were less than Levi 501's which were $6.25, making my mom happy. You had to get the originals with the little anchor buttons up the front. I always thought they were called "swabbies" because they were made for sailors and they swab decks. I saw a photo depicting the leg pulled inside out up over the knee so the hems wouldn't get soaked while doing this. On a side note, a couple of people mentioned Nordstrom Best which I remember too.
Scott D - April 06, 2021 - Report this comment
I went to Lincoln HS in Seattle fall '71 spring '75. Everyone wore Swabby's ! There was a similar brand called seafarer's. you could still get similar pants into the '90's from the Navy surplus stores. I had a cousin who was in the reserves so he'd take me to any of the local bases and I'd stock up. I've never forgotten them. They were very comfortable too right off the shelf ! HI! to any other Lynx out there !
Scott - April 06, 2021 - Report this comment
military re-enacting has become quite popular. So, there are modern made replicas of all of the uniforms from the civil war to current ! I just did a quick search for navy dungaree's and a bunch showed up. this link will take you to a site that has ww2 navy button fly jeans. Vietnam re-enacting is starting to become popular so I'm sure there will be companies making them and websites selling them !
Dave - August 12, 2021 - Report this comment
I wore swabbies back in 74 and 75, they did wear out fast and I would have to get another pair, that and Wafflestompers. The fad wore off and I went back to straight leg Levi's which I still wear to this day. I thought I was so cool with those Swabbies on, lol. My father-in-law still has some that he wears, he's very careful with his clothes, he's 92 and still wears Swabbies.
AlkiBeachNative - February 04, 2022 - Report this comment
Actually, Swabbies is or was a nic-name for the lower ranking Navy crew that had to "Swab" the ships decks. They typically wore the Navy issued bell bottom “dungarees” to do this job. Hence, the term; for the jeans “Swabbies".😎😊
Brian - March 19, 2023 - Report this comment
I had these jeans when I was a kid. I was so cool! 😁
TJ‘74 Alumni - March 19, 2023 - Report this comment
I have been wishing I could find Swabys for years! If only a manufacturer would see just how amazing they were and come out with a Swabys2.0 we all would be in heaven! They seemed to fit anyone and were so comfortable. I think I gave mine up during pregnancy when they were nearly in shreds. I bought mine at a store near Southcenter. They were inexpensive and so much more comfortable than Levis. Like Levis they had a button fly but with the cute anchor buttons. If only… I would buy enough to last me forever.
Jennifer - November 03, 2023 - Report this comment
I have been on a decades long search for Swabbies. Mine were hand-me-downs from myolder sisters, so I don't know where they bought them. With the fashion trends of the past few years, I fully expected to see them again. They should definitely be making a come back! Somebody would make a killer profit on that, at least locally...I know I'd have a pair 😊

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