29 / 03 / 21
What to wear to a funeral
Choosing what to wear to a funeral can be difficult. While many funerals still follow a more traditional dress code, we’re seeing an increase in popularity of more casual and quirky attire at funerals.
Whether you’re attending a traditional funeral or not, this practical guide includes a few tips that should help you decide what to wear.
Four things to consider when choosing your funeral outfit
Before we go into detail on the type of clothes that should and should not be worn at a funeral, there are four main things to consider before planning your outfit.
Type of funeral
Is the funeral going to be a religious ceremony or more a celebration of life? This should give you an idea of whether to stick to smart and conservative, or opt for bolder colours.
Check the weather ahead of time and plan your outfit accordingly. Be equipped with a coat and umbrella for a cold and rainy day, or seek out cool and comfortable clothing if it’s going to be hot.
Consider the culture of the deceased and their family, and do some research on their cultural traditions to confirm what may or may not be appropriate to wear.
Check to find out if the deceased or their family have requested a certain style of dress code for guests attending the funeral and ensure that you adhere to their wishes.
What to wear to a traditional funeral
Traditional funeral attire for women
For women choosing what to wear to a funeral, it’s generally best practice to stick to smart, dark coloured clothing. Whilst black clothing isn’t generally compulsory, you won’t go far wrong by sticking to dark, muted tones and avoiding bold prints.
Opt for conservative fittings and avoid hemlines that are too short or clothing that is too revealing.
Traditional funeral outfit ideas for women:
- Knee length / below the knee skirts or dresses with dark coloured tights
- Smart blouse or shirt under a blazer or cardigan
- Dark jumper with trousers and a smart coat
- Smart shoes, avoiding anything with a heel too high
You also want to keep jewellery and accessories to a minimum, with nothing more than a simple daytime make up look.
Traditional funeral attire for men
Men’s funeral attire generally follows similar rules to that of women’s, in that what you choose to wear should be typical of the type of outfit you would wear to an office job.
For this, men are usually expected to wear a dark coloured suit with black, navy and grey all considered acceptable.
Traditional funeral outfit ideas for men:
- Smart long-sleeved shirt & trousers
- Suit trousers & jacket with a white shirt & tie
- Smart black shoes
For a traditional funeral, it’s best practice to avoid wearing jeans, trainers and anything considered casual. If you don’t have a suit at hand, there’s always the option of hiring one for the day.
Traditional funeral attire for children
Children are expected to dress smart for a funeral, following the general rule of wearing dark clothing. It’s best practice to dress them in the same style as the adults to ensure they’re following suit, but make sure they’re comfortable in whatever they’re wearing.
To prepare them for a potentially long service, always dress children in layers that they can take off if it’s too hot, or can wrap up in if it’s too cold.
Traditional funeral outfit ideas for children:
- Smart dress, tights & shoes for girls
- Smart suit or shirt & trousers for boys
What to wear to a celebration of life
Celebrations of life or memorial services are different to traditional funerals as they usually take place a few months after a person has passed away. Rather than mourning the death, these tend to be more informal and are organised as a way of celebrating the life of the person that died.
Due to the nature of these occasions, guests aren’t usually permitted to follow strict dress-codes and are typically allowed to wear what they feel most comfortable in.
That being said, there are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to dressing for a celebration of life.
Respect the family’s wishes
If the deceased’s family have specifically requested that you dress completely casual, then it’s best to avoid wearing your best suit.
If a specific colour or theme has been chosen, plan ahead and make sure that you incorporate at least an element of this into your outfit on the day.
Consider the location
Celebrations of life or memorial services can be held in a number of different locations including restaurants, someone’s home or even outdoors.
It could be the case that the deceased’s family has chosen to organise a memorial walk or even a celebratory BBQ, so make sure you know the plans of the day and dress accordingly.
While this type of service is a lot more informal than a traditional funeral, it’s important to remember that you are still there to celebrate the life of someone who has died, so dressing respectfully is key.
Don’t forget that it’s an incredibly meaningful and special occasion, so leave the particularly bold and daring outfits for another day.
If in doubt, ask
If you’re really not sure what to wear to this type of event, don’t avoid asking friends and family of the deceased, or anyone else attending.
A quick and easy confirmation of what is expected of you takes the pressure off and allows you to enjoy the day without feeling like you’ve made the wrong outfit choice.