Yara Shahidi has always been one of those people that never ceases to amaze the crowd with her immaculate style, and her appearance at the MTV Movie and TV Awards was no exception! The Grown-ish actress went to the award ceremony in a Tory Burch custom made pastel blue pants suit and nude pumps styled by her a long time stylist Jason Bolden. The suit jacket section of the outfit had an oversized drape with a matching belt, while the pants had a loose, baggy, and breathable fit with tapered legs.
Moreover, Shahidi as a longtime activist always stands up for social justice and criminal justice reform, described the oversized pantsuit as “zoot suiting”, and the cultural significance makes her even more lovable. Zoot suits first became popular among African-American men in urban areas such as Harlem, Detroit, and Chicago back in the ‘40s, and it also became popular among Mexican-American Italian-American and Filipino men to name a few as well. Malcolm X and Dizzy Gillespie also were seeing wearing suits as a form of protest and the symbol of freedom and self-determination in a climate that was full of prejudice.
In addition, during World War II, many politicians tried to outlaw zoot suits because they were considered unpatriotic and an excess amount of fabric used unnecessarily arguing that the material should be put towards military efforts such as the military uniforms. This actually caused tensions between Mexican-American and U.S. soldiers that led to the zoot suit riot in Los Angeles back in 1943. It was described in a book called the Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style (by Kathy Peiss) as one of the first times in American history that pieces of fashion were believed to be the cause of the civil dispute.
What can be gathered about the zoot suit, is that it became a form of expression for minority men, serving as a means of resistance between men of color in the government. That’s why it’s so relevant that she was wearing this in 2018 to make a statement in the Trump era.
Subsequently, art and fashion have always had political pull, pushing the boundaries of what is considered adequate and militant and is also a means of representing who are and you are worth as a person.