How Was The Name Zoot Suit Born?
How was the name Zoot Suit born? There are several stories surrounding how the name Zoot Suit was born. Few items of men's clothing has as much of an interesting history as the Zoot Suit. Easily recognizable, a Zoot Suit is known by it's high waisted, wide-legged, pegged trousers and long, large coat with wide lapels and padded shoulders. Often worn with a feathered cap, pointy shoes and a watch chain, the Zoot Suit makes an impact. Brightly colored, these suits were chosen for party attire and other special occasions.
Could it have been a mispronunciation? Some say the name "Zoot Suit" was coined by young Mexican American who pronounced suit with a "Z" sound, turning "suit" into "Zoot". Others have given the credit to urban black youths. Jazz musicians in Harlem typically wore this style as well as the Mexican Americans.
Three other men have also been attributed with the naming of the Zoot Suit. These men include; Harold C. Fox, a clothier from Chicago, Louis Lettes, a Memphis based tailor and a Detroit retailer, Nathan Elkus.
Whoever originally named it, the term "Zoot Suit" definitely took. In circulation since the 1930's, these suits were considered a luxury item due to the sheer amount of fabric and tailoring required. This extravagance was also a form of rebellion during the war. The US officials believed this was a travesty and eventually during WWII riots broke out. The famous Zoot Suit Riots have further sealed this item of men's apparel into the fabric of fashion history. Zoot Suits are still around today. Wedding parties, jazz lovers, rockabilly types and Halloween party goers all seek out the Zoot Suit.