If you think that the nonconformist movement started in the 1960s with the Beatniks and turned into the Hippy Movement, think again. Throughout human history there has always been a society and ways to conform to it. Every generation seems to have a group of people who want to shake things up it seems. Our generation of modern day seems to like to adorn themselves with more tattoos and piercings than the amount of skin they have. Anything not to look “Normal”. Well, if you go back in time to the 1930s and 1940s you will see another prime example of the nonconformist. It is called the Zoot Suit or Zuit Suit. The zoot suit started it’s name by the Mexican immigrant’s mispronunciation of the word suit. The zoot suit is traditionally a highly padded shoulder baggy long coat about 38 inches long as compared to a traditional business suit whose jacket is about 32 inches long. The pants on a zoot suit are equally baggy and high waisted with peg leg cuffs to finish the look. When you compare the look of a zoot suit and a classic or business suit, the zoot suit looks like a flashy thumb in the eye of conformity. It didn’t take long for zoot suits to become a fashion favorite by Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and African Americans back in the 1930s. There has always been a history of nonconformity in these social circles because conformity has always meant bowing down to the man.
During World War Two, many things were rationed due to shortages of production on virtually everything and fabric was one of them. The U.S. War Production Board wanted to ban the manufacturing of zoot suits because of the amount of fabric used to make the extra long coat and bagginess of the pants. Because of the cracking down on zoot suits and it’s wearers a zoot suit riot broke out in California. There was the threat of arrest if you were seen wearing a zoot suit. If you were a cool cat who wore zoot suits, you were sort of like the rebellious anti-establishment biker type of today.
It takes a bold certain type of man to wear a zoot suit because wearing a zoot suit is almost equivalent to becoming your own three ring circus. There is simply no way of blending in crowd when you wear a zoot suit. From head to toe it’s Flash,Flash,Flash. Zoot suits were never intended to wear to a work environment but to wear to parties and special events where you can have fun. The zoot suit is still around in a modern cut. It is no longer the baggy shapeless suit of yore but a more tailored long jacket suit with matching pants. These suits are still worn in the same social circles for the most part. So if you are the type who likes to stick their thumb in eye of the “Man”, it is still possible to buy a zoot suit.