Monday, March 09, 2009

Being Well-Dressed For The Party

My late friend, George “Jazzbow” Rihan showed me a type of zoot suit he wore many years ago. It wasn’t the classic: reet pleat, thigh-length jacket with padded shoulders, high waist pegged pants, and a long watch chain from the belt down nearly to the cuffs and back into the front pocket.

Nor was it something I’d wear to a dogfight or if I lost a bet. The suits somehow reminded me of The Discovery Channel’s multi-part “Planet Earth” programs which showed male birds deep in the forest displaying their plumage and dancing around the females trying to impress them with how they were arrayed.

Malcom X described the outfit like this: "A killer-diller coat with a drape shape, reet pleats and shoulders padded like a lunatic's cell." (Oh, where has the poetry gone in today’s advertisements?)

George Sanchez recalled that the zoot suit was a symbol of that generation’s style. “This was to really assert that we are here,” he said, “we are here and we want to make a statement about the fact that we’re here. Man, they wore a big hat and a feather and a chain dragging down there.”

It sure was a statement. You could be blind and three blocks away and still see the statement. Reports say the zoot suit was inspired by authentic Civil War garb worn by Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering...pegged pants came out ~ 1953 I'd say and zoots came out before that, way before I think.

What say ye/youse/yunz ?

Exit 318

March 11, 2009 4:55 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Late 1930's and into the 1940's.

March 11, 2009 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a form of the zoot came out some time in the 70;s or 80's?

March 11, 2009 6:21 PM  

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