Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The clothes make the man.

Its all about the clothes-The Zoot suit


"Zoot suit was a style of clothing popularized by African Americans, Mexican Americans, Harold C. Fox, the Chicago clothier and big-band trumpeter claimed credit for creating and naming the zoot suit. Its creation has also been attributed to Beale Street tailor, Louis Lettes; and Detroit retailer Nathan (Toddy) Elkus. Italian Americans, and Filipino Americans during the 1930s and 1940s

A zoot suit has high-waisted, wide-legged, tight-cuffed pegged trousers (called tramas) and a long coat (called the carlango) with wide lapels and wide padded shoulders. Often zoot suiters wear a felt hat with a long feather (called a tapa or tanda) and pointy, French-style shoes (called calcos). A young Malcolm X described the zoot suit as: "a killer-diller coat with a drape shape, reet pleats and shoulders padded like a lunatic's cell." Zoot suits usually featured a key chain dangling from the belt to the knee or below, then back to a side pocket.
Zoot suits were for special occasions – such as a dance or a birthday party. The amount of material and tailoring required made them luxury items. Many young people wore a more moderate version of the "extra-bagged" pants or styled their hair in the signature "duck tail."
The oversized suit was an extravagant personal style and a declaration of freedom and auto-determination; although many people still consider it a "rebellious garment to the era.

The Zoot Suit first gained popularity in Harlem jazz culture in the late 1930s where they were initially called "drapes". The word "zoot", according to the Oxford English Dictionary, probably comes from a reduplication of the word 'suit'. It was probably first coined by Mexican American pachucos as part of their slang, "Caló", evolving from the Mexican Spanish pronunciation of the English word "suit" with the "s" taking on the sound of a "z". In any case, the zoot suit became very popular among young Mexican Americans, especially among those in Los Angeles who styled themselves as "pachucos" Anti-Latino race riots in Los Angeles during World War II are known as the Zoot Suit Riots. Despite restrictions and discrimination, Zoot Suit culture prevailed."

In a Tom & Jerry 1944 short, The Zoot Cat, Tom tries to win the affections of a female cat, but is rejected for being "corny". Sitting on the front porch, he hears an ad on the radio telling Tom that to be a "hep cat" he needs to wear a zoot suit. Tom immediately makes one out of a hammock and re-appears by the female cat, impressing her with his new "hep" clothes. However, when Jerry interferes, the suit gets wet and shrinks so much that the suit winds up fitting Jerry perfectly.

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