Boys' Clothing Glossary: "Z"

Figure 1.--.

We have begun to build a glossary of boys' clothing terms. As boys clothes until the 19th century was the sane as adult male clothing, we have included many applicable men's clothing terms. We have also included some women's terms as younger boys commonly wore dresses until the 20th century. As HBC is extensively used by non-native English speakers we plan to give considerable attention to this glossary so that words can be looked up. It will also serve as an index as we will provide links to the appropriate pages. We eventually hope to add foreign words, but that will take some time.

Zoot suits: Baggy pants appeared in England during the mid-1920s. They were reportedly invented by Oxford University students and thus became known as Oxford bags. They proved to be a fad, but baggy trousers seem to have reappeared in America during the late 1930s as part of zoot suit fashions. Zoot suits had long jackets with wide lapels and padded shoulders worn with baggy cuffed pants. The suit was completed with a felt hat with a long feather as well as long, pointed shoes. Zoot suits were often done in brigher colors than normal suits at the time. Zoot suits became popular among blacks, Filipinos, and Hispanics in America. The style seems to have been developed in the Harlem (New York) Jazz culture. The origins of the term "zoot" is less clear. It appears to have evolved from the pronunciation of the English wor suit by Spanishg-speaking Hispanic Americans. The style while first appearing in Harlem became very popular in the Chicago black community and the Los Angeles Mexican-American population. The Zoot suit style was affected by World War II. America entered the War after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 1941). The the War Production Board banned the production of zoot suits (March 1942). It took more masterial to produce a Zoot suit than other styles. They may have also been influenced by cultural factors such as prejudice toward black and Hispanic communities. This action occurred at the same time that Japanese-Americans weree being interned. Service men in Los Angeles at the same time began attacking Mexican-Americans wearing Zoot suits. This led to the Zoot suit riots.


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Created: 3:00 AM 2/18/2006
Last updated: 3:00 AM 2/18/2006