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David Sedaris on why you should dress like a corpse

David Sedaris on why you should dress like a corpse
David Sedaris on why you should dress like a corpse 02:21

I went to a play the other night and thought, wait, is this a Broadway theater or a Home Depot? An honest mistake, as my fellow audience members were dressed to harvest crops and drain septic tanks.

Was there a sign on the door demanding that people at least wear shirts, or was it just a coincidence that no one was bare-chested? I mean, cargo shorts and flip-flops, to the theater!

I know we're living in a different age: "Who are you to tell me how to dress for a night out?" But if this wasn't a special occasion, what was? Making an effort shows respect to the performers, and to your fellow audience members.

I attended a murder trial in Arizona once where the mother of the accused took the stand in cut-off shorts and a "Ghostbusters" T-shirt. And again, you really couldn't find anything better in your closet?

In the past if I was going somewhere special, I'd put on a tie, but my ideas of evening wear have changed over the years.

The 2023 PEN America Literary Awards - Red Carpet
David Sedaris making his fashion statement at the 2023 PEN America Literary Awards, March 2, 2023 in New York City.  Nina Westervelt/Variety via Getty Images

"Those look … ahem ... comfortable," people tell me, wincing at the culottes I pair with knee socks in cold weather. And I'm like, "You do know that you can just say nothing, right?" When did that become any kind of a compliment?

The mark of an adult used to be that you could be mildly uncomfortable for vast stretches of time. You'd put on a suit and a real pair of shoes and somehow manage to work for eight hours. Then, maybe, you'd change into something even more restricting and go out to dinner.

Now we need to be comfortable all the time, and for every occasion.

Except, oddly, when we're dead!

Go to an open-casket funeral and the corpse is pretty much always the best-dressed person in the room. Often it'll be the first time the person has ever worn a suit, or the first time in ages. Beautiful dresses, hair done just so.

If I ran a Broadway theater, that's what I would demand of the audience: Dress like you're about to be buried, or reduced to ashes in a kiln.

And, of course, turn off your phones.

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Story produced by Amy Wall. Editor: Emanuele Secci.

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