Zoot suit attire consisted of baggy legged, narrow- cuffed, waist-high pants, a short tie over a buttoned shirt, suspenders, a long coat with wide lapels and padded shoulders, wide-legged, pegged trousers, flashy shoes and either a fedora or a tando hat with a feather of varying lengths.

In the summer of 1943, Zoot suit riots broke out between predominantly black and Mexican gang members in Zoot suits and mostly white American servicemen stationed along the Pacific coast. On June 3, eleven sailors on shore leave claimed they were attacked by a group of Mexican pachucos. In response, over 200 uniformed sailors charged into the Mexican American community of East Los Angeles, attacking any zoot suiter they encountered.

For several nights, uniformed servicemen (including sailors, soldiers and marines), joined by some white civilians, marched down the streets of east Los Angeles, breaking into bars and theaters, and assaulting anyone in their way. Many zoot suiters were beaten and often stripped of their clothes.

Civilians cheered as the local press depicted the marauding servicemen as heroes combating a “Mexican Crime Wave.” Los Angeles police arrested over 600 Mexican-American youth in a preventive action. None of the roving gang of attackers was arrested. Finally, at midnight on June 7th, military police stepped in to stop the rioting and declared Los Angeles off limits for all military personnel.