There is much more to the story of the zoot suit, than what has been portrayed by bad guys in comical mid-century gangster films. In the 1940's and 50's, zoot suits were worn by Mexican American hipsters from the lower-class, who embraced the flamboyant oversized style to express their desire for freedom from racial discrimination.The zoot suit quickly became a symbol of radicalism and was viewed as un-American by the U.S. Government and those serving in the military.
For most of the duration of World War II, the zoot suit was banned in the U.S. as a result of a series of riots between latino youths and members of the U.S. military that occurred in Los Angeles. Many servicemen viewed the zoot suit wearers as war draft dodgers and since wool and other textiles were subject to wartime rationing, the oversized suits were seen as an unpatriotic waste of resources.
Despite being a controversial article of clothing, these flamboyant jackets, baggy pegged pants, sometimes accessorized with a fedora and a long watch chain stood out for being a one of a kind fashion statement.
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