What And What Not To Wear At A Funeral: A Practical Guide
Published Oct 26, 2020
At funerals, it is absolutely crucial that you act, speak, and dress appropriately. Funerals are an incredibly emotional event, and how you present yourself shows the family what the dearly departed meant to you. When thinking about what to wear for a funeral, it’s always safe to err on the conservative side. When funerals come to mind, the prevalent thought on what color to wear is black.
Black is a color that signifies seriousness, solemnity, and formality. It’s quite the fitting color for funerals, as funerals tend to have a more serious and formal atmosphere than other gatherings. But aside from the color, here are a few tips that experts advise for deciding on a funeral outfit.
What to wear at a funeral?
To answer this question, you have to factor in a few details, including the funeral’s location, theme, and the deceased’s personality and culture.
Some funerals or memorials take place at the beach or the park, or other unconventional venues. You probably won’t want to wear a three-piece suit or a business attire for these events, and beach funerals may even call for you to wear flip-flops. It’s up to you to discern the formality of the setting and adjust accordingly.
Themed funerals are typically requests made by the departed before they passed away. These themes likely represent who they were and what they were passionate about during their time on earth. With such themes in place, they’ll likely entail you to wear attires different from the usual. To be more specific, let’s say the departed set their favorite color as their funeral theme. To respect their wishes, it’s appropriate that you stay in line with that theme. Or if the theme calls for costumes to be worn (which isn’t impossible), wear a costume.
The deceased’s personality may also be a factor in their funeral. Many families like to remember the life of a loved one by embodying their character in their funeral. In fact, sometimes it won’t even feel like a funeral at all, feeling more like a celebration than anything. If you knew the person well, you might wear something that pays them tribute while remaining respectful.
Another thing you might want to consider is culture. Several cultures have specific traditional attires and themes for funerals. For example, the Chinese heavily use the color white when mourning, whereas red is the primary color present at funerals in South Africa. Furthermore, the Chinese believe red is a color of happiness, so it’s strictly forbidden at funerals. Taking culture and these other details into account makes sure you don’t come off as ignorant and disrespectful.
Ask for the family’s advice.
If you’re really unsure of what your attire should be, asking for the family’s input is recommended. While you may be close to the departed, their family might have a different idea of how they want to conduct the funeral. With that, you can ask them what they think would be appropriate for the occasion.
Common outfit ideas
Funerals are typically conventional, so here are the traditional attires that are guaranteed to be appropriate almost 100% of the time. Remember, it’s better to overdress than underdress.
- Dark suits and buttoned shirts
- Long-sleeved shirts with collars that cover the neck
- Dress shoes or loafers
- Black or dark-colored slacks
- Dark dresses or suits
- Keep shoulders covered with a cardigan or a blazer.
- Wear the appropriate length of a skirt or dress.
- Long-sleeved blouses
What not to wear at a funeral
These are clothes you’ll want to avoid in most cases.
- Baseball caps
- Jeans and ripped jeans (though sometimes jeans are acceptable)
- Sneakers, athletic shoes, and flip flops
- Bright colors (unless appropriate)
- Tank tops
- Skimpy or revealing dresses
- Bright sundresses
- Tank tops
The most crucial thing you should think about when dressing for a funeral is respect. You’ll want to express your deep respect for the departed in everything you do and how you conduct yourself at their funeral. So, wear something that makes you blend in and not attract any unnecessary attention. Remember, this event is not about you, so it’s inappropriate to break out a new outfit just for the hell of it.
About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.