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1938-1942 zoot suit: 2 different pattern striped wools, long fitted coat, oversize padded shoulders & exterior pouch pockets, red plastic buttons, high-waist balloon pants, pegged cuffs, 4 slash pockets, crudely made suspenders in cinnamon wool. Sold at auction for $ 78,000


Zoot Suit, 1940–1942. COMING SPRING 2016: A garment pattern of this extant zoot suit, which illustrates just how its extreme, larger-than-life proportions were created, will be available for free download—along with other fashions in Reigning Men—later this spring as part of LACMA’s Pattern Project: Undertaking the Making.


The creation of the zoot suit can be traced to Harlem in the mid to late 1930s. Initially an African American youth fashion, closely connected to jazz culture, the zoot suit was co-opted by a generation of Mexican American youth. The oversized suit was both an outrageous style and a statement of defiance. Zoot suiters asserted themselves in the face of widespread discrimination. At the dawn of WWII, the suit was condemned by the U.S. government and over time the suit was seen as unpatriotic.