When deciding what to wear to a funeral it is always best to go conservative. While it’s true that you don’t have to wear black, you should dress in a way that shows respect. That means avoiding bright colors, flashy prints, and glittery fabrics.
A good rule of thumb is to dress as if you are attending a serious business meeting. That means what you choose may be guided by your location, the climate, and the culture of the deceased.
What to Wear to a Funeral: Dos and Don’ts
- Consider where and when the service will be held: A memorial service at a beach will be more casual than a service at a place of worship.
- Use common sense: If you are attending the funeral of someone you knew to be quite formal, it is likely that the attire should be more conservative.
- Ask for advice: It is perfectly appropriate to ask an immediate family member or the funeral director for advice on what to wear. The deceased may have specified a preference. For example, someone with a hearty sense of humor may have specified in his or her funeral plan that they would like everyone to wear green.
- Dress to blend in: We all want to be special but a funeral is not the time to stand out. You want to be dressed along the same lines as the other mourners.
- Consider the culture: Some cultures have special traditions when it comes to funeral attire. For example, some Asian cultures prefer white and in some African cultures, red and black are the norm. If the funeral is for someone with a distinct cultural background, it is perfectly acceptable to ask a family member if there is preferred attire.
- Pick this time to be a rebel: A funeral is a time for everyone to mourn. It is not a time to stand out.
- Underdress: While you are likely to see a range of fashion choices, you are far better off if you are a bit overdressed than underdressed. Step away from the flip flops!
- Forget why you are there: The whole point of the funeral is to show respect to the deceased. If you choose something that is respectful you will be fine.
- Agonize: Chances are you have something that will work. Just stick to basic dark colors and cover-up. The important thing is that you are there to honor your loved one. Unless your outfit is over the top or totally inappropriate, no one is likely to even notice what you are wearing.
In general, the etiquette for funeral attire is the same for both men and women: business-type attire that is respectful and conservative. Err on the side of dressing up as opposed to dressing down. Black or another dark color is almost always appropriate. Be sure to take the weather and location of the service into consideration and consult with a family member of the deceased if you need specific advice.
What to Wear to a Funeral: Women
While it’s true that the standard for funeral dress for women has become more relaxed over the years, clothing should still be respectful and conservative. Keep in mind that your goal is not to place the focus on you.
- A suit with a skirt or pants in a dark, solid color is a safe choice. You do not have to wear black unless the specific culture dictates it.
- A skirt of appropriate length and blouse or sweater is normally appropriate.
- Flat shoes or pumps are your best choice for shoes. Open toed shoes or sandals may be appropriate depending on the venue and climate.
- Depending on the culture, a hat may be worn.
- Avoid bright, flashy colors, “mini” skirts, low-cut blouses or sweaters. Skip the jeans or leggings.
What to Wear to a Funeral: Men
The best rule of thumb for male funeral attire is to dress as you would for a business meeting. Select elements that are respectful and conservative and will not cause a distraction.
- A suit with a collared shirt and tie or slacks with a sport coat are safe choices. You are not limited to black but dark, muted colors are generally the best choice.
- Avoid jeans (unless the geography or climate dictate them), short-sleeved shirts, and sneakers. Baseball caps are rarely appropriate.
What to Wear to a Funeral: Teens and Children
Teens and children should take their cue from their parents. “Church” type, age-appropriate styles that show respect are generally appropriate.