The Zoot Suit is a mid-20th Century exaggeration of a flair in menswear where the cut of the chest is fuller and the waste narrower to give men a more robust appearance.
Apparently the Zoot Suit was still banned from Los Angeles County even as late as 2001. This is because of the Zoot Suit Riots, which isn’t just an annoying song. Back during WWII, after some servicemen were attacked by a group of Mexican pachocos, sailors, marines and soldiers joined in attacks across East Los Angeles’ Mexican communities, especially anyone wearing Zoot Suits. The police only arrested the victims and the general public cheered the servicemen on as heroes.
Things escalated, cops were run down, servicemen were disfigured in fights, Latinos stabbed at parties and the riots spread across the country to even New York City, where the military had just shut down the Savoy Ballroom because whites and blacks were intermingling (they were doing a lot more than that).
Back in Los Angeles, the city decided to ban the Zoot Suit; like most political actions it hardly dealt with the problem. The picture above is of Cab Calloway, one of the few big band leaders I thoroughly enjoy who was also a regular at the Harlem/Savoy Ballroom scene.