Tuesday, 11 January 2011

ABC Wednesday Z is for Zoot Suit

Image courtesy of Aaron F and Wikimedia Commons
In this family the slang phrase ‘Zoot Suit’ is used to describe a man’s smart apparel or formal business clothes. When I looked up the expression in my ‘Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable’ (the ampersand is used in the title) I discovered that it dates from the late 1930s and was used to describe an extravagant fashion adopted by followers of Swing who were known as Hepcats.
Image unattributed
It comprised high-waisted, baggy trousers with turn-ups tapered at the ankle, a long coat rather like a frock coat with wide lapels and exaggeratedly broad padded shoulders, often in vibrant colours or bold patterns. Worn with it were a flamboyant tie and a broad-brimmed hat, frequently sporting a long feather. The essential finishing touch was a long key-chain dangling from belt to knee or even below and then rising back to a side pocket.

Further research led me to the Zoot Suit Riots which began in Los Angeles in the first week of June, 1943 between American sailors and marines and disaffected Latino youths. You can read about them here.

Thanks go to the Zealous Denise Nesbitt and her Zippy team who host this weekly meme. Click here to see more Zs.

33 comments:

  1. Ooh love the Rupert Bear Zoot suit :O)

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  2. Oh, what a fun post for the Z Day! I love it! And your photos are great -- wherever you got them! I'm always glad to be able to find pictures for the letters when I don't have any that will "fit"! Hope your week is going well! Enjoy!

    Sylvia

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  3. I never before knew the history behind the Zoot Suit. Loved it.

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  4. I can dig your cool vibe, daddy-o.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  5. The Z- suit here sure looks comfortable for all seasons. :)

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  6. Very interesting post and great pictures. I thought about Zoot Suiters, but then fell upon Zabaglione, and how easy it was to make, so went with that instead.

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  7. Cool...unique take on Z for this week. Although too young (hah!) to remember seeing these suits, I have seen them in old movies. Have a great week. :D

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  8. So did rappers of the 30's wear Zoot Suits?

    An Arkies Musings

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  9. Interesting, Janice. I have heard of Zoot Suits, but I never knew where the expression came from.

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  10. I came across the term for the first time here and I had to look it up, but once I learned what it meant, the look was instantly recognisable. I love the word zoot.

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  11. Oh I adore your take on Z ~~ Those Zoot Suits are something else.

    Good job to end the alphabet!!

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  12. That's a great choice for Z, love that yellow suit!

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  13. That's quite the zoot suit you have pictured here!

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  14. I've used that term myself. Nice one.

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  15. Fantastic - didn't know this is what these suits are called - very colourful too-don't think I could see Jon in one! His colour choice is black or navy! Hilarious the thought of him in yellow!

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  16. I remember seeing zoot suits in old movies once in a while. Interesting; and I love the photo.

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  17. I remember Zoot Suits because my father, a WWII veteran, was full of useless information he felt my brother and I needed to share.
    Excellent post. I love the photo of the five zoot-suiters on the steps, with an astounded little girl lookingat them.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

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  18. I've used this term myself. Didn't exactly know the history of it. Great shots to explain the colorful suits.

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  19. Wow! I haven't heard of zoot suits in such a long time. I remember seeing them in cartoons a lot when I was growing up. What fun! Great idea for Z!

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  20. Thanks for the fasci ating post about this piEce of fashion history!

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  21. Great post! And here I thought Jim Carey originated the zoot suit!

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  22. I remember my folks talking about zoot suits and the related 'energy'. Great post -

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  23. oddly enough you can't use the word "zoot" alone in a scrabble game. it has to be zootie. i always try to argue it but the scrabble dictionary doesn't lie! next time i will just show this post :0)

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  24. Perfect! Haven't thought of that fashion statement for years nor have I seen anything quite like it recently.

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  25. Those suits always looked very strange to me as a child, but now they look kind of cool! I didn't know that's where the long chain originated.

    Love the first picture!

    Jay - ABC team

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  26. Old movies were full of zoot suit clad men. Very strange style it was and still is.

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  27. My dad used to caution me about pulling my pants up 'over' my belly when I was little or I'd look like I was wearing a zoot suit. And you can imagine that it scared me because I didn't have a clue...nice post, my friend.

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  28. It don't mean a thing if you aint got that swing. Love those zoot suits

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  29. Interesting. Never heard the term before.

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