Green’s Dictionary of Slang

zoot suit n.

also zoot
[? New Orleans patois zoot, cute]

1. (orig. US black) a style of suit worn in the 1940s and 1950s, characterized by a long, draped jacket with padded shoulders and high-waisted tapering trousers; also attrib.; thus zoot-suited adj.; zoot-shirt, a brightly coloured shirt designed to be worn with a zoot suit; zoot pants, trousers designed like those of a zoot suit; zoot suit action, a fashion competition in which a wearer of a zoot suit attempts to outdo their rivals.

[US]Amer. Mercury July 96: zoot suit with the reet pleat: Harlem style suit, padded shoulders, 43-inch trousers at the knee with a cuff so small it needs a zipper to get into, high waistline, fancy lapels, bushels of buttons, etc.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 33: They wore zoot suits and felt hats with shallow crowns. [Ibid.] 96: Why’r you wearin’ that circus zoot?
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 76: The new royalty in overalls and zoot-suits.
[US]F. Paley Rumble on the Docks (1955) 56: He could tell you [...] the new cut in the Zoot.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 125: A great mob of young men dressed in all varieties of hoodlum cloth, from red shirts to zoot suits. [Ibid.] 187: The tenorman wore [...] a purple shirt, cracked shoes, and zoot-pants.
[US](con. 1940s) Malcolm X Autobiog. (1968) 135: The young salesman picked off a rack a zoot suit that was just wild: sky-blue pants thirty inches in the knee and angle-narrowed down to twelve inches in the bottom, and a long coat that pinched my waist and flared out below my knees [...] When I modeled the zoot for Ella, she took a long look and said, ‘Well, I guess it had to happen.’.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 4: Always clean, none of that zoot-suit shit.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 100: Style was wearing a white zoot jacket that came right down to his hips.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 83: I owned [...] a wardrobe of zoot suits that were the envy of Soho.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 26: A zoot suit was ‘full drape,’ but they lost favor before I became concerned about style.
[UK]Guardian Weekend 4 Sept. 51: Melly decided [...] ‘to leave the gangsters and move into zoot suits, worn by the black guys from Harlem.’.
[UK]Observer Rev. 30 May 9: The zoot-suited announcer implored the crowd to welcome [...] ‘the Reverend Al Green.’.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 43: A short, jet-black man [...] wearin a checkered zoot suit and diamonds on every finger.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 307: The zoot-suited, fedora- and long-feather wearing persona.

2. (US black) overexaggerated clothes.

[US]Cab Calloway New Hepsters Dict. in Calloway (1976) 261: zoot suit (n.): overexaggerated clothes.

3. (UK prison) prison clothing worn in the punishment cell.

[UK](con. 1970s) N. ‘Razor’ Smith A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun 185: The normal attire worn in the strong-box is the ‘zoot-suit’, a slip-on top and shorts made from unrippable nylon and vinyl mix.

In derivatives

zoot-suiter (n.) (also zooter, zoot suit)(US)

1. a wearer of a zoot-suit, thus a fashionable person.

[US]S. Menefee Assignment USA 189: The zooters, who earlier in the day had spread boasts that they were organized to ‘kill every cop’ they could find [DA].
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 123: The different types [of] non-recruited zoot suiters who put down romance hypes.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 161: Mexican zoot-suiters, known as pachucos, are tough hombres handy with knives, slick-haired pimps and dope-passers.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 145: No zoot-suiters. The hipster has gone underground.
T. Dewey Mean Streets (1956) 211: The two zoot suits were no longer in front of the cigar store.
[US] (ref. to 1949) L. Bangs in Psychotic Reactions (1988) 73: Holding the sax up like a big pacifier and blowing jive blasts past melody while the audience of zootsuiters howled with glee, well that was 1949.
[US](con. 1945) E. Bunker Little Boy Blue (1995) 222: They’ll call the police after the zoot-suiters.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 99: She strutted in a parody of a zoot suiter, leaning backward, exaggerating her arm swing, a haughty expression on her face.

2. in derog. use, a foolish, arrogant, vulgar young man, esp. when his image is boosted by flashy clothes.

[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
zoot-suity (adj.)

affecting the styles associated with wearers of zoot suits.

[US]E. Weiner Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 16: The way you talk [...] And those zoot-suity clothes. And the hat.

In phrases