What Should I Wear To A FuneralDeceased Family In Funeral Attire

Attending a funeral is not something we do every day and deciding what to wear is an essential factor in showing proper respect.

Supporting the surviving family during a funeral is one of the most important things one can do. Remember the principal focus should be the family of the deceased.

What should I wear to a funeral?
As guidance, you should wear what the deceased's family would wear to a funeral. At the minimum, wear your best clothing if it is conservative and will blend in. Purchase clothing if needed, it is money well spent.

We have put together a guide to help you select the proper attire for every funeral situation.

Convention Funeral Attire Guidance

  • If you are unsure, choose to be overdressed and formal, then casual.

  • Choose an outfit that does not stand out or show off. This event is not about you; it is about the family.

  • You may need to plan to be outside for many hours in the heat or the cold. Make sure you take along appropriate warm coats or jackets for Winter and sunglasses, sunscreen and hats for Summer.

  • Consider where the funeral will be held. A casual funeral on a beach or in a natural setting will require different attire to a formal religious occasion in a Church or Cathedral.

  • This occasion is about the deceased and the family. Don’t try to show off your style, it is not a fashion affair and you want to blend in as much as possible with the other mourners.

  • Ask for advice. If you are not sure what the dress code is – ask the family spokesperson. The deceased may have left specific wishes for a color theme or mood. If you're young and this is your the first funeral, ask your parents.

  • Take into account the religion and culture of the deceased. Many religions and cultures have particular dress codes that you may be unaware of. The family spokesperson will be able to guide you as to the correct attire to choose.

What Should Woman Wear to a Funeral

  • Choose formal solid colors. Unless otherwise specified, choose dark and formal colors. Black, grey and dark blue are the ideal choices. Do not select flashy and bright colors like pink, red, yellow or purple. Try to avoid prints, loud patterns and designs.

  • Dress as you would for a business meeting. Choose a knee-length dress or a knee length skirt with a jacket. A formal pantsuit or pants and a jacket is also acceptable.

  • Choose formal and comfortable shoes. Wear pumps or low closed shoes where possible. Avoid sandals, flip flops or extra high heels that could cause difficulty walking in graveyards and along church walkways.

  • Clothes to avoid. Do not wear miniskirts, low cut tops or Tee-shirts. Shorts, jeans or leggings are also not recommended. Avoid tops with spaghetti straps or cold-shoulders that show off bare skin. If you are wearing pants, avoid low-cut pants and choose a style that fits neatly into the waist. Do not wear tight clothing that is uncomfortable to stand or sit in for long periods.

  • Choose your jewelry carefully. Most women wear some jewelry as part of their ensemble. When it comes to funerals, a simple necklace with a pendant and earrings will add to a formal look. Avoid flashy, glitzy jewelry, and most especially, avoid stacked bangles that will jingle and jangle as you move.

  • Tattoos. Tattoos may be part of your lifestyle but are not always well received at formal occasions. If your tattoo is visible, try to wear appropriate clothing that covers it as best as possible.

  • Hairstyles. Keep your hairstyle classic and straightforward. This is not the time to get your hairdresser to experiment with something new.

  • Perfume can cause allergic reactions. Choose a neutral fragrance or go for none at all. Many people are allergic to scented perfumes and aromatic body lotions. Standing or sitting next to a person wearing a strong scent can cause extremely uncomfortable sneezing and coughing during an emotional Church or burial service.

  • Makeup must not run. People usually cry at funerals and the last thing you want is a face smeared with black mascara. Choose waterproof makeup and keep it to a minimum.

  • Accessories must be small and compact. You are not going shopping. Choose a small clutch bag or a mini shoulder sling bag that will hold a few personal essentials. Black is the best choice, or a grey or dark blue to match your outfit. Remember to take along a supply of tissues and some extra for someone who has forgotten theirs.

What Should Men Wear to a Funeral

  • Dark solid colors are best. Grey, black and dark blue are the most common choices. Choose white or cream for a shirt and a solid colored tie. Avoid bright flashy colors and patterns where possible.

  • Wear clothing appropriate for a business meeting. A formal suit with a collared shirt and tie is the most usual choice for a funeral. Choose darker colors like black, grey or dark blue. Slacks and a smart jacket are also acceptable. If you do not have a suit, you can get away with a formal pant and jacket combination. Once again, go for darker colors and keep the jacket buttoned up for a more serious look.

  • Choose formal shoes. Dress shoes, loafers, Oxfords, Brogues or dress boots are a good choice with dark socks.

  • Clothes to avoid. Do not wear jeans, shorts, three-quarter pants, short sleeved shirts or Tee-shirts. Caps are also not suggested unless you are outdoors in scorching sunshine. Do not wear sneakers or open toe sandals.

  • Keep jewelry to a minimum. A wedding band and classy cufflinks are acceptable but avoid chunky neck chains, arm bracelets or earrings.

  • Tattoos. Tattoos may be part of your lifestyle but are not always well received at formal occasions. If your tattoo is visible, try to wear appropriate clothing that covers it as best as possible.

Unconventional Funeral Attire Guidance

Like most things in life, there are always exceptions to the rule. You may be invited to an unconventional funeral where black and somber is not the order of the day. Perhaps the deceased has indicated in a Will that they want a different funeral that will be a ‘life celebration’ rather than a day of sadness. In some cases, the family may make a similar decision.

Guests will be suitably informed if this is the case. You may be asked to wear casual beach clothes for a seaside funeral. Hippie-style or cannabis-culture style funerals may request that you wear flowers in your hair or even bring along some ‘herbs’ to smoke. Cosplay fanatics may ask that you dress up in Superhero costumes! Green and Woodland funerals may request that you wear casual attire, possible even clothing made of eco-friendly material like cotton or linen. Nature lovers may request that guests help to plant a tree in their memory - make sure you wear an overall or apron that can get muddy and dirty and can be easily slipped off when you are done.

The unconventional funeral that you are attending may not be that extreme – a simple request not to wear black, but come in bright and fun colors to celebrate the personality of the deceased may be all that is needed.

Make sure that you check and understand these unique specifications very clearly - you certainly do not want to be embarrassed on arrival.

Military - Veterans Funeral Attire Guidance

Funerals for veterans will consist of a large number of military personnel. If you have an Army, Navy or Air Force uniform, it is appropriate to wear it to the funeral. If you are not in the service, choose a dark, formal men’s suit or dark color ladies dress as your outfit.

Non-Western Funeral Attire Guidance

Much of the above applies to traditional Western style funerals. When it comes to funerals of other cultures, there are significant differences and you will have to be guided by the family spokesperson.

For many Middle Eastern funerals, women will be required to cover your head and even your entire body by wearing long sleeves, an ankle length dress and a high collar. Shoes are often removed before entering the prayer hall, so ensure that you have socks, stockings or leggings on, you do not want to walk barefoot.

For a Jewish funeral held in a Synagogue, women are expected to cover their shoulders with a shawl or a throw. Men will be asked to wear a yarmulke or skull cap. The synagogue usually has a supply in their reception areas for people who are not of the faith.

African funerals are deeply rooted in indigenous culture and tradition. Westerners are sometimes astounded to find mourners singing, dancing, eating, celebrating and being quite joyous at a traditional funeral. Dress code is usually traditional and bright colors are encouraged. Often, there are further celebrations that take place for days after the burial. If you are invited, ask your host to advise on the appropriate dress code.

When in doubt - Dress Formal

Most of us do not attend funerals regularly and one may get stressed and feel uncertain about what to wear. When in doubt, choose a formal business type outfit, preferably in a solid dark color like black, grey or blue. Avoid wearing anything showy, glitzy or tending towards casual.