What exactly is a “zoot suit”?

Often also known as an urban suit, a zoot suit is a men’s fashion suit that typically has a high waist, wide leg pants, and a long jacket with wide lapels and wide padded shoulders. This particular fashion style began in the 1940s in Latino, African American, Italian American, and Filipino American communities.

Black jazz musicians in American cities like Harlem, Chicago, and Detroit were some of the first to bring zoot suits into mainstream popularity – in fact, musician Cab Calloway has since become one of the most famous zoot suit enthusiasts. Calloway’s zoot suits were known for being especially extravagant with extremely wide shoulders or extra-long jackets.

Since the 1940s, zoot suits have become a symbol for luxury because the extra fabric required to make them during war-time made them particularly expensive. That luxurious status has maintained to modern times, and wearing a zoot suit today with a fedora or pork pie dress hat is still a powerful fashion statement.

The impact of the zoot suit is still alive in men’s fashion today. All fashion suits feature a longer coat as a homage to the luxury of the extra fabric of the old-school zoot suits – many of which feature the original gangster pinstripes and wide lapels of the 1940s zoot suit. CCO Menswear features a number of zoot suits: some of our favorites can be found here and here.

The lasting impact of urban zoot suits will last forever. If you like fashion length men’s suits, wide leg pants, or wide notch and peak lapels, you have the zoot suit to thank. Get yourself a new zoot suit or fashion suit today and enjoy the luxury, confidence, and status that comes along with it.