For those who don't know, zoot suits were a style of men's clothing that became popular in the pre-war years in various areas of the US. The suits were especially popular among some minority groups, including African-Americans, Hispanics and others, and for a time seemed to epitomize the coolest of the cool.
The origin of the actual name 'zoot suit' is a little fuzzy, but maybe it just sounded good in the vernacular of the time. Malcolm X, who sometimes wore a zoot suit when younger, described it as: "a killer-diller coat with a drape shape, reet pleats and shoulders padded like a lunatic's cell." Unfortunately, the style began to be closely identified with youth gangs, and during the war years they began to clash with many US servicemen on leave, leading to what is now known as the Zoot Suit Riots.
As the years passed and the memories of those dark days faded, the word zoot eventually began to just remind people of a smooth and relaxed jazz musician by the name of Zoot Sims. In fact, the name Zoot in that context became so familiar that it was even used to identify a sax-playing character in the Muppets TV show.
Unfortunately the Muppet Zoot was not as skilled as the real one. He played the final note at the end of the TV show's theme song horribly off-key, and I often wondered if the real Zoot cringed when that happened — after all, he always played the right notes