A funeral is a somber occasion, and if you are tasked with planning one for a loved one, you find yourself in a stressful situation.
No matter the circumstances, a funeral is a somber occasion. In general, you’re going to want to be dressed in dark, muted colors (black and navy are great choices), because they’re the most respectful colors to wear. While you may be tempted to wear a bright floral dress or any color besides black or navy, the fact is that your loved one’s funeral is not about you; it’s about them and their family members. Any bright colors that draw attention might make other people at the funeral feel uncomfortable.
It’s also important to avoid wearing anything revealing. It might seem obvious, but this includes mini-skirts, plunging necklines, shirts that expose your midriff (even if they don’t expose your bellybutton), too much skin in general, and any articles of clothing with offensive words written on them . This isn’t the time for self expression through graphic t-shirts. Instead of worrying about what you look like at a funeral and whether your outfit fits into today’s style trends , think about who you are honoring by attending this event: someone who has passed away, and their friends and family members who are grieving their death .
And if you are attending the funeral of a friend or relative, you may have even more questions as you try to find the right thing to say, or bring as a gift.
There is no right or wrong answer. If you’re close to the family, flowers from your garden can be a thoughtful and inexpensive gesture. A condolence card with a message personalized to the family’s relationship with their lost loved one is another great idea. A donation in memory of the deceased made to a cause that was important to him or her is also more than appropriate.
While there are plenty of things you don’t have to do at a funeral service, there are some things you probably should do. It’s respectful to stay for the duration of the service and pay attention throughout it, if possible (and if the circumstances allow), even if it makes you sad, uncomfortable or both. Make an effort not to say anything inappropriate; leaving that kind of thing out when visiting someone who is grieving may seem like common sense, but sometimes, grief can make people forget themselves as they try anything they can think of to make their loss lighter.
When attending a funeral, it is best to dress conservatively.
When attending a funeral, it is best to dress conservatively. Even if you did not know the person who has died, or were not close to them, try to dress in a way that shows respect for their family and loved ones. While many funeral homes will provide information on how to dress for the service itself, it can be difficult to find guidance on what you should wear during that time before the service. When attending a traditional service in the summer months, be sure to wear:
- Black clothing
- Appropriate footwear
- Light layers
The above guidelines are also appropriate when attending a viewing before or after the funeral service. When attending a memorial service or celebration of life ceremony, you may wish to dress more casually or according to the theme of the event.
Tradition calls for attendees to wear black, although this is not always the case.
When it comes to funerals, there’s one color that immediately comes to mind: black. It’s not a coincidence that the traditional color of mourning is also the most common funeral attire. Wearing black to a funeral isn’t just tradition, it’s also a sign of respect for the deceased and their family. The one exception to this rule is if the person who passed away specified that they wanted something more colorful for their guests. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate for your loved one’s funeral, ask someone who was close to them if they know what type of clothes would be best to wear.
Match your accessories and shoes accordingly.
- Match your accessories and shoes accordingly.
- Bold or distracting jewellery.
- Bright colours or white. (A black dress with a yellow cardigan or stripes may be acceptable if the funeral is for a close family member.)
- Flip flops or sandals. Wear closed-toed shoes that you can comfortably stand in for an extended period of time, preferably with a medium-height heel. Shoes should be clean and polished, not scuffed up from being dragged around on the ground at frat parties all night long. No need to wear brand-new shoes that can give you blisters, but don’t show up wearing sneakers either out of laziness or because you want to look like a badass gangster attending his own funeral because he got shot dead by a rival gang outfit (you’re not going to your own funeral).
- Sunglasses (unless you are a famous celebrity who will have paparazzi taking pictures of you as soon as they see you walking towards the front gate at the cemetery).
There are also some common mistakes people make while dressing for funerals that can be easily avoided.
#1 Not accounting for the weather.
When deciding on your funeral outfit, it’s important to consider the season and climate. The last thing you want is to walk into the funeral home in July wearing a full-length black coat, only to discover that you’re sweating through your dress shirt underneath. There are ways to keep yourself warm while dressing appropriately for a summer funeral. For example, you could wear long sleeves and bring a light jacket with you in case it gets cold later. Also, since most funerals are held indoors, you won’t have worry about getting too much sun exposure if you want to wear a light sweater or cardigan instead of something heavier like an overcoat or parka.#2 Wearing shorts or beach attire.#3 Wearing excessively colorful clothing. You should avoid wearing bright colors such as sunflower yellow or tangerine orange to funerals because they can be distracting and don’t convey respect for the deceased—or at least not as well as muted colors do.#4 Not bringing sunglasses with you.#5 Wearing revealing clothing that shows off cleavage or skin around your midriff
If you are uncertain how to dress for the service or what to do before or after the funeral, we’ve put together some answers that will help guide you through this difficult time.
You should follow the preferences of the deceased and their family, but if you are uncertain what that is, your best bet is a dark-colored suit or dress.
Men should wear a dark suit with a white shirt and a dark tie. Socks should be black or neutral in color. If wearing a white shirt and tie would be uncomfortable in hot weather, it is acceptable to wear a black undershirt with the suit coat unbuttoned. You may also wish to wear either black or brown shoes and belt.
Women should wear a conservative dark-colored dress, skirt, or pantsuit with tasteful accessories such as pearls, small gold earrings, minimalist necklaces (this isn’t the time for costume jewelry). Avoid bright colors and loud patterns that could draw attention from those who are grieving at the service. Also avoid revealing clothing such as shorts, bare shoulders (unless covered by an item such as a shawl), exceptionally short skirts/dresses (the rule of thumb for funerals: hems should fall within two inches of the knee) and cleavage-baring tops. Shoes should be closed-toe flats or heels somewhere between one to four inches high; avoid stilettos (which can get stuck in grass) unless you have help maneuvering around on uneven ground outside of a cemetery chapel.
Your funeral outfit should be subdued and demure, with a friendly splash of color. While it’s okay to wear black, you can add vibrant accessories or consider wearing an olive-green dress or suit. Complete your look with neutral heels and tasteful jewelry.
If there is a dress code for the funeral, follow those guidelines. If there isn’t, remember that less is more—keep your accessories simple and avoid anything too flashy.