The zoot suit of the 1940’s was full of scandal. Technically illegal due to the abundance of fabric needed to make it and the restrictions place by the war board it was the underground dress uniform of young, ethnic, rebellious men. These” swing kids” danced in jazz clubs, purchased their clothes on the black market and in L.A. caused a month long street war. While their lifestyle was unappreciated by the majority of citizens in the early 40’s their fashions had a heavy influence on post war men’s clothing . Fardi Chenounce in A History of Mens Fashion describes the zoot suit perfectly:
“The original American outfit was the zoot suit, with its oversized jacket (often double breasted, always wide shoulders) that might be striped or checked, fell to the knees and hung like some baggy frock coat. Low-Crotched zoot pants that were held up by eccentric suspenders, swallowed the lower half of the bust, then skirted around the hips and bagged at the thighs before narrowing to sit softly on fine, lightweight shoes. This euphoric costume would be completed- or rather, rendered more glorious by striking, luxuriantly hand painted tie, a colorful pocket-handkerchief, an endless watch chain, and a wide-brimmed hat.”
Today the zoot suit is immortalized as the greatest 1940’s fashion for men, especially with dancers. It is also the inspiration for African-American men’s fancy dress (for church and formal events. ) These modern zoot suits are really great alternatives to vintage or reproduction zoot suits for their outlandish style, bold colors, and affordability not to mention they are still modern enough to wear to any stylish party today ( you will get a lot of attention wearing these suits.) They seem to be especially popular for 1940’s themed weddings and vintage swing dance parties.
Contrast Striped Designer Men’s Suit 3 Piece (P1014)
Price: $299.9 at Womensuits.com
The modern zoot suit- Pinstriped, long suit jacket with colorful lining, wide baggy pleated trousers, and wild tie. Vest usually not worn in the 40’s but looks great too with as a modern zoot suit touch.
Stacy Adams is a brand that you might be able to find locally as well. Their signature style has embraced 1940’s fashion since the 1990’s. Much of their current fashion lines have steered away from the 40’s but you can still find vintage inspired hats, shoes and some suits both on their website and at other retailers that carry the Stacy Adams line.
The other site is Womensuits.com. Don’t bee fooled by the name. They carry a large assortment on mens suits fit for the modern day swing kid. Their suits come in all sorts of colors, lengths, single and double breasted, and traditional or contemporary cuts. See for yourself why these suits make perfect modern zoot suits:
Price: $309.0 at Womensuits.com
Men’s Double Breasted Houdstooth Suit (S1293)
Price: $289.9 at Womensuits.com
Double Breasted Long Jacket Men’s Suit On Sale (P1022)
Price: $295.0 at Womensuits.com
Men’s 3 Piece Fashion Suit with Vest and Wide Legs (P1122)
Price: $295.0 at Womensuits.com
Men’s Suits 2 Piece with 1 Button Stacy Adams Suit PN-STACY-9
Price: $299.0 Womensuits.com
For even more sections of 1940’s style suits, hats and shoes see the 1940’s mens clothing shopping page.