The Formal Wear and Care Shop

By Benji Elkins:

The corners of the store had a sharp granite edge, polished and elegant. Its windows were grand and stainless, revealing a marvelous interior filled with lacquered oak desks, plush velvet chairs, and tall, dangling chandeliers. At noon the sun would shine through the top half of the window and catch the chandelier diamonds in rays of light. By 12:30 the sun rose to highlight the grand wooden doors of the store, and by 1:00 it was the sign above the entrance that shined brightly.

The Formal Wear and Care store was founded in the mid 19th century by London’s high society. In 1857, a gathering of important London men, their importance noted by their suits and top hats, met in Belfrey Hall to discuss the ills of their contemporary society. The men discussed poverty, sickness, and even table manners, debating as to which malady plagued Britain the most. Yet, they were not able to come to a consensus. Five years later, the men met again. Now more important due to the addition of monocles and pocket watches to their attire, the men hoped they would find more success. For three days they debated constantly. Tempers flared, tears were shed, and a duel even reportedly occurred between two men with shoehorns. However, by the end of their three-month-long deliberation, they had reached a conclusion. The men had realized a simple thing: the factor that makes mankind great isn’t knowledge or courage, character or will, but instead simply how well you dress. With that, the men leased the grand building on the corner of Downes and Lidwell Streets and announced the grand opening of The Formal Wear and Care store.



“Well I do see that you have a point, although ultimately I will have to side with John on the matter.”

The two men stared at the suited man. He wore a slim tie and a tight charcoal jacket that matched his pants, themselves held up by a sharp brown leather belt that matched his shoes. They stared silently in their Hawaiian tee-shirts and cargo shorts. To ease the awkwardness the suited man let out a quick smile and with that, John jumped up in joy. Frederick’s face began to turn red with anger. “That’s just ridiculous! That’s utter crap! How could you-, he stole my car and then lost it. He lost a car! How is that possible? How could you side with him?!” The suited man shrugged as Frederick continued to fume. John couldn’t help but punch Frederick playfully on the arm, teasing the verdict delivered to his brother.

“Come on Frederick,” John said through laughs, “the man’s in a suit for Christ’s sake. He knows what he’s talking about! Come on, let’s go. And hey, can I borrow your bicycle when we get home?”

The two men walked out of the royal store and the suited man sat back down behind his desk, flipping on his availability switch. A light turned on above his head and another patron stepped forward.



The Formal Wear and Care store was founded as a solution to the problems of London in light of the great 1862 realization. The very important men realized that authority comes not from experience, but from presentation. Therefore it seemed like the next logical step was to create a beacon of hope for the people of London, a place for the lost and confused to meet and seek help for their questions and problems. In 1863 the store formally opened and the original staff of 25 sharply dressed men began their art of saying things with authority.



“Please step this way, an expert will be with you shortly.”

The large square room bustled with people. Men and women stood in line behind velvet rope, waiting to approach the lacquered oak desks. The great grandfather clocks ticked and chimed as they hit the number 12. The rays of sun burst through the store’s grand windows and radiated into the diamond touches of the great chandeliers, then burst back out to cover the store floor. The suited men and women had already put on their Ray Bans but the customers were forced to briefly suffer, shielding their eyes from the sun. Typically the noon crowd at the Formal Wear and Care store was very small.

“Well technically once I don the suit I actually have honorary degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard Universities,” the expert explained to a young boy, opening his jacket to reveal an embroidered university diploma. The boy smiled and shook the expert’s hand. His grin stretched from ear to ear, matching his little baseball cap and Star Wars graphic tee. He had just had his longtime suspicions confirmed and rushed back home to notify his mother that broccoli was, in fact, very dangerous. Meanwhile, a few desks down, a man in khakis and a button-down questioned an expert about the properties of quantum mechanics.

“With all due respect sir, I teach quantum mechanics at the local college and I have never heard or read that before,” said the man in the khakis. However, the man in the suit simply pointed down to his name placard. The khaki wearing professor sighed. The placard read, all statements by suited experts are FACTS!



In 1963, the success of The Formal Wear and Care shop allowed the store to establish a monopoly on suits. Soon its notoriety for being a bastion of knowledge led citizens to trust the FWC more than the British government, and by 1965, the store largely controlled most of the British Parliament, a fact they used to enforce their monopoly on suits by outlawing their use by any non-registered persons. No one knew who was at the top of The Formal Wear and Care store, but people knew that whoever it was held immense power.



“I’m sorry sir, but do you work here? I’m the general manager and I don’t remember hiring you. Do you have any identification?”

The young boy froze in front of the general manager. He began to sweat through his oxford button-down, red tie, black suspenders, and black suit jacket. Slowly, he pushed his hand into his suit jacket, reaching for a store ID card he knew didn’t exist. The general manager watched closely. The boy’s hand reached the inner empty pocket, then he bolted, running past the queue of waiting customers, blowing by the rows of oak lacquered desks, and straight into the store's security guards. The general manager approached as the boy struggled.


“Come on. Why don’t you follow me? Let’s have some fun.”

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©2018 by The Milking Cat.