We’ve talked about clothing and class before — but Complex broke down race, class, and fashion really well in their latest piece about 9 Clothing Rules White People Invented to Benefit White People. Take a walk through the history of fashion and restrictions and then probably put on a Canadian Tuxcdo, a hood, a tracksuit, both a Yale and Harvard sweatshirt, sagging pants, and a floor length velvet robe as a sartorial middle finger to class and racial divides in America. #Punk.
One thing they did miss was the history of the zoot suit in America, a dope look Malcolm X wore several times as a statement and protest to the situations he was in. Zoot Suits were essentially garments worn during the Second World War as rebellion, because to wear so much fabric (they were wide legged at a time when strict tailoring was the way to go) was seen as flouting rationing. To wear them was essentially unpatriotic. There was a dictate by the War Production Board that ‘rationed cloth to a 26% cut-back in the use of fabrics” as a patriotic not to Uncle Sam. Of course, the people who were wearing the suits at the time were mostly African Americans and Mexican Americans, and so they were the ones largely arrested. During wartime, these suits — often flamboyant colors on top of being huge swaths of fabric — were codified as uniforms for delinquents and rebels…..and they’re disdainfully called “Pimp Suits” now. You won’t get arrested on sight for wearing them now, of course, but you won’t be treated with any good grace either. Some things never change.
Photo via Business Insider