a modern zoot suit



Kyra Jean Zapf

(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

thanks to my model and husband, Gabriel Elmore

Outline the story …

I love swing dancing and have made a number of swing dresses. I can escape into a world of 1920s speakeasies and jazz. I wanted my husband to feel comfortable dressing up and join me in this world, so I dreamed up a kind of modern-day zoot-suit. Zoot-suits of the swing era featured bright, unusual colors, and baggy 3-piece suits for dancing. Right off the bat I knew a baggy suit would look silly, so I designed a well-fitted waistcoat and pants but a jacket with a bit more give to it, so that we could dance together. The color of the suit is a nod to the bright colors of the swingers, with a grey and pink plaid lined in purple.
The waist coat has welt pockets on both the inside and outside
Welt pockets on the back of the pants and front pockets
A zipper and silver button on the pants crotch seam, which have inside seams surged.
All buttonholes are hand-made in contrasting thread.
This garment is completely just me playing around with a lot of new things.

Outline the construction…

This piece was my first completely self-patterned piece of men's clothing. (my first complete piece of men's clothing in general)
If I were to go back I would interline the collar and use a collar pattern because I certainly got confused with the construction and I would pay more attention to which side I'm putting the button on the pants. I ran out of the right buttons and had moved housing, so was only able to give the jacket one button instead of 2 or 3 as I originally imagined. My husband knew I wanted wool and rayon for the suit and bought it for me as a gift, but only bought me 4 1/2 yards of each...which meant I was barely piecing the sleeves together and they had to be shorter than planned. The pants pocket lining had to be made of a different fabric altogether.
I looked at a number of vintage suits online when I created the piece and modeled the general design off of a suit my husband already owned. Hindsight is 20-20 and there are so many things I would now change, but this was an excellent experiment and he has been able to wear it for many occasions.




  1. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on April 19, 2024 at 7:35 pm

    Fabulous work and your husband looks incredible in it. Loving the light colours and beautiful fit, Well done.

  2. Avatar Bethany on April 21, 2024 at 8:03 pm

    The fit you’ve managed to achieve with so many tailored pieces is stunning. My husband also tends to buy me too little fabric, so I can sympathize with having to piece and make-do. And you did a great job of it!

  3. Avatar Brooklynne Michelle on April 22, 2024 at 2:27 am

    I am a sucker for a good plaid, and you chose and excellent plaid. The suit looks so good on your husband as well. Great job!

  4. Avatar Jenny B on April 23, 2024 at 7:47 pm

    Fabulous work, you’ve done an amazing job on the construction and finish!

  5. Avatar Gail Dixon on May 4, 2024 at 6:46 pm

    This looks amazing

  6. Avatar Maeri Certo on May 12, 2024 at 2:33 pm

    This is beautiful work! A very impressive job on your tailoring, anc how effortlessly dapper he looks!

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