Funerals are never easy. They’re emotional, sometimes messy, and highly unpredictable. The last thing you want to do is show up to a funeral in the wrong attire and make things more awkward.
It is challenging to talk about funeral attire. It’s a topic many think of before it happens but do not have time to consider until we are actually in the situation. There is no right or wrong answer for what you wear, but some general guidelines can help you make your decision about the funeral outfit easier.
In this article, we will share a general idea of what you can and cannot wear to a funeral. We will discuss the funeral dress code and what colors and styles are appropriate for the funeral service.
What do people wear to funerals our days?
All-black clothing has been the traditional funeral attire of the Western world for centuries. There are still many who follow this custom of wearing black to a funeral. The idea that you aren’t celebrating, but instead you are mourning the loss, was the primary concept for wearing black or darker colors.
In recent times, choices in funeral attire have become less rigid. Some people want to remember a loved one differently, such as wearing their favorite color. Or the deceased may have left their own wishes too. In such instances wearing something other than dark colors are acceptable as long as you stick to the dress code set for the funeral.
However, if you are attending a funeral that is not in line with your religious like for example Muslim funeral or Catholic or cultural beliefs, you can dress in a way that is respectful while still being comfortable. Oftentimes, this means wearing a muted and neutral, or darker color that you are comfortable with, or you can just wear black and play safe.
If there are no set dress codes, it is always better to play it safe and go with colors from the darker spectrum. Dark greens, dark blue, earthy tones, darker shades of grey, and beige are acceptable today unless the grieving family is sophisticated and traditional.
What is disrespectful to wear to a funeral?
Wearing anything loud and casual to a funeral or memorial service is considered disrespectful to the deceased unless a particular color of the funeral outfit is specifically mentioned. Fitting in is the proper funeral etiquette. Any kind of attention gained on the occasion is bad attention unless you are the immediate family member. Below we have listed some points to help you avoid those awkward situations on the formal occasion.
Do not wear shorts. The only acceptable place for shorts would be the beach.
Leave your flip-flops at home. Athletic shoes and open-toed shoes are also not meant for a funeral.
Baseball caps are not the best clothing accessory. Keep the cap at home.
Avoid wearing jeans to a funeral service. You might think black jeans would be okay, but try sticking to dress pants or simple slacks. Wear jeans only when the dress code says so.
It goes without saying, but do not wear any flashy prints or wild prints. Items of clothing with large logos are also an absolute no.
Avoid bright color clothes. Bright colors go against funeral etiquette, except if it is the dress code.
Best to keep away from big statement accessories.
Casual clothing like polo shirts, t-shirts, and short-sleeved shirts are not your appropriate attire to wear to a funeral, wear only long sleeves. If possible, avoid a sport coat for a conservative funeral service.
How do you look classy at a funeral?
Keeping it simple and tasteful is the key here. No one wants to spend hours figuring out how to dress appropriately during an emotional time. The first rule is to know that it is not some fashion show or a festival. Do not try to dress like a glamorous superstar. You should dress respectably in your formal attire and blend in, as you do not want to be in the limelight when emotions are running wild. We have prepared a basic guideline that will hopefully help you select that comfortable wear.
Funeral Outfit Man:
Dressing for most funerals is usually easier for men. Most suits are dark colors, like blue, dark gray, black, and brown, so dark suits for the funeral would be the best choice of clothing. To make it simpler, you can wear your best business suit. Make sure you look like you are going for a high-class business meeting instead of someone going for a job interview.
Pair your suit with a plain white dress shirt or dark green or blue dress shirt and a tie. You could also add on a waistcoat or/and a suit jacket if it happens to be cold out. To complete your look, choose a pair of dark dress shoes that will complement your suit. It will also not hurt to add a handkerchief to your pocket; you or someone else might need it as it is a sad day.
If you are not comfortable in suits, wearing a nice slack will also suffice. Just pair it with an ironed dress shirt or a polo shirt, or even a black shirt with a blazer and black shoes. But, if the funeral director asks you to read or give a speech, you best stick with the more formal attire.
A polo shirt of darker colors with a sports coat is somehow acceptable if somehow the funeral has a contemporary or “color of life” dress code.
Minimize your jewelry. Wearing a nice simple watch should suffice. A pair of black glasses are perfectly acceptable too. And lastly, if it is an outdoor funeral carrying a plain black umbrella will be handy. This will make your outfit look classy and still respectful of the occasion.
Funeral Outfit Women:
How should a woman dress for a funeral? Let’s be honest here; ladies are actually sort of spoiled for choice, which makes finding the right dress to wear tricky.
There are some general guidelines that you can follow and be fashionably classy without attracting negative attention. The idea is to show fewer legs and cleavage while looking conservative, classy, and ladylike.
In this modern time, no specific outfit is a must. You can show up in a dress, business suit, or pants, and it doesn’t matter. The funeral flowers could be a good addition to the dress. All that’s important is to depict a message of respect to the deceased and support for the family.
What clothes to wear for a funeral:
A traditional black dress is the safest bet indeed, but also make sure the length of the dress is appropriate. The appropriate length for a black dress would be below the knee. If your knees are visible, best pair it up with matching stockings.
You could also opt for navy blues or earth tones, or any darker colors as long as it is decent.
You can also dress in a knee-length skirt with a decent blouse. Avoid spaghetti straps and tight revealing tops. If you want something different, you can wear dress pants with a nice sweater or blazer. Or just opt for a black suit or a dark suit with a collared shirt like the gentlemen's.
If the funeral service is held at the burial site or it is cold, a classic wool coat or overalls in dark moderate color will do the trick.
Shoes for the funeral:
Comfortable shoes would be a keyword here. Why add the unwanted trouble of dealing with an uncomfortable wardrobe on such an emotional day? You can choose to wear slightly shorter heels or comfortable formal shoes. Choose a good rain boot for the burials.
In most traditional funerals, you will need to walk behind the vehicles carrying the casket with the departed body and family members from the family’s home to the service site. If you know your favorite pair of heels is incredibly uncomfortable, it is best to forgo them.
Choosing accessories can be a little tricky. Just stick to a few simple pieces of jewelry that will compliment your outfit. This would be an excellent time to take out your pearly whites or those diamond studs. They give a delicate balance of taste and style.
You can also wear warm gloves and a scarf if it is chilly. Bring your black umbrella along for a funeral service held outdoors or a burial service; it will shelter you from the heat or rain. A hat or other head coverings will also subtly accentuate your look as long as it’s of the appropriate size. Don’t forget those black sunglasses; you can shed your tears with none the wiser.
Makeup for Funeral:
Minimalist – that’s the answer. Keep your makeup simple. Avoid bright lipstick and eyeshadows. Foundation with a bit of blush, black eyeliner, and nude/light lipstick will suffice. You are attending a funeral or a memorial service, not a Gala.
Hopefully, this will help solve the lady’s dilemma of selecting wear for the funeral. Don’t stress too much; as long your selected dress and colors are not ostentatious, you should be okay.
You don't need to go out of your way and spend lots of money on clothes for funeral services. Don’t overly stress about it. Most people will not even notice if you are not dressed perfectly. Just remember this basic funeral etiquette that we have outlined.
The most important thing to keep in mind when attending a funeral is that it is not about you. Instead, you are there to pay respect to the deceased person and show your support to the family during their time of grief. Respect the family's wishes. The way you dress to a funeral should reflect your respect for the deceased.
If you want to do something more personal, consider donating in the name of the deceased instead. Think of what would make the deceased happy and give the person the final send-off they deserve.