If you are attending a funeral soon, you may be wondering what to wear to a funeral. In this blog, we will deep dive into some specific choices that will allow you to look sharp at a funeral while still showing your respect to the person who has passed. Families have many different choices regarding the type of funeral they want to host for their loved one. When choosing the color of your funeral attire, you might think that black and muted colors are the most appropriate. However, it depends on the culture.
Understanding the details of the services will help you know when you should wear formal attire and when a more casual funeral outfit will be perfectly acceptable. Additionally, the weather plays a role in what you’ll wear to the services since particular fabrics will help keep you warmer or cooler. Keep reading for guidelines on what to wear to a funeral.
If you need to attend a funeral, then you may be scratching your head while wondering what you should wear. There is no need to rush to the nearest department store to buy a new outfit or accessories in many cases.
Tips and advice on funeral dress code
Keeping some simple tips in mind can help you choose the proper outfit and accessories to wear to a funeral.
Determine What Type of Service You Are Attending
Families can choose from many different types of services. Therefore, you need to determine the service type. Generally, if the service is formal, you need to choose dressier clothes.
We will deep dive into this subject later, but you will want to choose dressy clothes for a funeral, memorial service, and wake. You can usually wear less formal clothing to a committal or graveside service. Families choosing to hold a celebration of life often announce a unique item that they would love everyone to wear, so watch for those announcements.
Consider Cultural Traditions
One way to show respect for the person who has passed is to consider their funeral cultural traditions.
For most Christian and Jewish funerals, you will want to wear formal clothing. It is generally not required to cover your head, but you should not wear anything too revealing.
If you are attending an Islam funeral, men should wear trousers and a shirt. Women must wear a headscarf and an ankle-length skirt. In most cases, you will also want to wear a long-sleeved top.
Those practicing Buddhism have a wide range of clothing traditions, but you will not want to wear bright-colored clothing. Usually, the family wears white, and guests at the funeral wear black, but that is not always the case. Wear clothing that keeps you covered when kneeling on a pillow.
Choose Muted Colors
Black and muted colors are usually most appropriate for funerals. Some traditions say that the family should wear white, but if that is the case, you can expect your mom or grandma to let you know before the funeral day.
The exception is some celebrations of life. For example, when my friend Ginger Moore, a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, passed away, everyone was asked to wear a Cowboys’ football jersey. If you do not see an announcement with the obituary, stick to dark-colored clothing.
Keep Your Dress Formal
Women should wear a dark-colored dress that does not have a revealing neckline. This is an occasion where you want to keep the girls in check.
Additionally, your dress should at least cover your knees. You are attending a somber occasion, so leave the short cocktail dress for the nightclub. Your clothing should cover your shoulders. You will want to wear long-sleeved tops in some traditions, while you can wear long-or-short-sleeve options at most.
Keep your jewelry at a minimum. Usually, post earrings or short dangles that will not attract attention are most appropriate. Your wedding ring, if you have one, maybe enough jewelry. If you choose to wear other jewelry, keep it simple.
Men should wear a suit and tie to most funerals. Again, this is the time to choose a black or other dark suit coat. Leave the bright-colored tie or one with a funny design on it for another occasion.
Dress for the Weather
It is vital to dress for the weather, especially if you are going to a graveside service or traveling in the funeral procession after the funeral service to the cemetery.
If the weather is warm, think about wearing a dressy hat to help shade you during the outdoor portion of the service. Men should remove their hats when they are indoors and during prayers.
Wearing sensible footwear is a must. Women should avoid wearing shoes with spiked heels as they will often sink into the ground, which can cause you to fall. Both men and women should consider conservative footwear with a flat bottom or options with a low heel.
We will have more to say on this topic in the coming portions for both men and women.
Do Your Hair and Makeup
While you want to keep it conservative, you should do your hair and makeup before attending a funeral. Think about how you would do them if you were going to an important job interview. You want to look polished without drawing attention to yourself.
Keep in mind that part of the funeral service may occur outside. Therefore, you should choose a hairstyle where the wind will not ruin the look. If you wear a hat, consider hairstyles that allow you to put it on and take it off quickly.
Do You Always Have to Wear Black to a Funeral?
No, you do not always have to wear black to a funeral. You can almost always wear other dark colors, such as navy blue or black-brown.
In some families, wearing black to a funeral is not considered culturally important. For example, show up in clean and wrinkle-free clothes at a funeral in my husband’s family. In that case, you need to keep in mind what clothes will travel well if you have a long drive or need to fly to attend the funeral.
Often families who plan celebrations of life will ask attendees to wear a particular item or wear a specific color that has a connection to the person who has passed. For example, when Howard Childress, a long-time respected high school coach, lost his life, everyone was asked to wear the school’s colors to the funeral.
Some cultures have specific colors that everyone needs to wear to the funeral. For example, we have already discussed how the family of Buddhists in Japan wear white to funeral services. White is also worn to most Chinese funerals as they believe that it transfers energy allowing the person to have an easier passage into the afterlife. Those of the Hindu faith in India also usually wear white to funerals. Keep in mind that people who live in various areas may still respect their traditional beliefs regarding funerals.
Funeral Clothing Dos and Don’ts
Like each individual is a unique individual, each funeral often reflects the person who has passed away. Therefore, it can be challenging to draw generalizations. At the same time, keeping some dos and don’ts in mind can help.
Dos for funeral attire
- Do honor the family’s wishes – Even if it is not what you think is appropriate, honor the family’s wishes so that you are not adding more stress to their lives during their time of grief.
- Do use common sense when choosing attire – Packed funeral homes can get stuffy while it can be cold outside, so consider choosing clothing that allows you to adjust layers during the funeral easily.
- Do ask for advice – If you are in doubt about what to wear, ask a family member. If you do not know the family, contact the funeral director for suggestions if you have doubts.
- Do keep culture in mind – People often rely on their family’s culture to see them through funerals. If you are unfamiliar with a particular culture, do some research.
- Do dress conservatively – in most cases, women will want to cover their shoulders, knees and wear an outfit with a modest neckline. Men will want to wear a suit and coat in most cases.
- Do simplify your look and accessories – Pretend that you are going to a job interview, and wear simple jewelry and a conservative hairstyle. Remember that the wind may be blowing, so choose an appropriate hairstyle.
- Do consider the climate – If part of the funeral service will occur outdoors, keep the environment in mind. If it is hot, you may need to wear a dress coat to stay warm or wear breathable fabrics, like ones made of natural fibers.
Don’ts for funeral attire
- Don’t stay home – Even if you are a little concerned about your outfit, go and pay your respects to the person who has passed.
- Don’t go underdressed – It is better to dress too conservatively for the occasion than too provocatively.
- Don’t wear bright colors – Unless you follow the family’s request, leave bright colors in your closet.
- Don’t wear suggestive clothing – A funeral is not the place to look for a new partner, so wear conservative clothing.
- Don’t wear bling – Avoid attracting attention to yourself by wearing too much or too loud accessories.
- Don’t wear jeans – Unless you are very familiar with the family’s culture, leave the jeans in the closet.
- Don’t wear strong fragrances – People are usually close together at a funeral, and wearing scents that are too strong smells like a junior high locker room.
- Don’t forget to consider your footwear – Wearing casual shoes or shoes that are hard to walk in can be embarrassing.
You now have the general guidelines of what to wear to a funeral. In the following two chapters, we will take a deeper dive into appropriate funeral clothing for men and women.
In this chapter, we will dive deeper into women’s attire for funeral services, but if you are a guy, hold on until the next chapter, where we give you advice. A second point to keep in mind is to choose your clothing style based on the family’s wishes if they express any. After all, when you go to a funeral, you are there to show them that you care about their loved ones.
Choose Dark or Muted Colors in Most Cases
In most cases, you should wear dark or muted colors. For example, you may want to wear black, deep blues, or dark grays to a funeral. If you are wearing a blazer, you can wear a white shirt underneath and cover it with a dark-colored sweater vest. Your outfit does not have to be one dark color. For example, you might want to wear a charcoal-colored skirt with a dark green top or a dark brown dress with a dark red blazer.
Consider the Person’s Culture
Keep in mind that you will find different color choices in some cultures. Since the world has become a melting pot, you will want to keep a person’s culture in mind when choosing the color of your funeral clothes.
You may also find different types of services held when people are from one culture but have lived a long time in another one. For example, a business owner from Cambodia but had operated a business in a community near me died. The family held a traditional Cambodian service early in the day, followed by an American-style funeral in the afternoon.
Honor the Person’s Faith
For example, when my Chinese friend Al Wang passed away in Texas. He was a practicing Buddhist. The family requested everyone to wear white as they believed that it would transfer energy to have an easier journey to the afterlife.
Many people who practice the Hindu faith, especially those from India, wear white to funerals. They believe that white is the color of purification. So a person can easily transition to being reborn again when mourners attend their cremation or shraddha ceremony.
In some cases, only the immediate family wears white while guests attending the ceremony wear black. In other instances, everyone wears the color that the culture sees as appropriate for mourning. Consider asking a family member or consulting the funeral director if you have doubts.
Choosing Women’s Clothing for a Celebration of Life Ceremony
Another exception to the rule is if the family hosts a celebration of life service. In that case, check the obituary for any special instructions on what you should wear. For example, when my friend Katrina buried her toddler son, who died of cancer, she asked that everyone wear purple, her son’s favorite color. If this is the case, you can usually find the information listed in the obituary, or if the family expects your attendance, you may get it in a text message.
Pick Dress Shoes Carefully
You should never wear flip-flops or casual shoes to a funeral. Instead, opt for dressy types of shoes. Ballet flats, loafers, and brogues are usually very appropriate. Avoid wearing any shoes with bling because you do not want to draw attention to your outfit.
When selecting your shoes, think about where the funeral will occur. If you are going to the cemetery, then wear shoes that are flat on the bottom. This is especially true if the ground might be muddy or snowy as heels can poke through the ground, making it hard to walk.
Wearing Boots to a Funeral
You will also want to consider the weather when selecting your shoes. If the weather is cold outside, then a pair of conservative boots can be a great choice as they may help your feet and ankles stay warmer. This, however, is not the right place to wear your go-go boots or other choices that might draw attention to your feet. Think about options that you might wear to an upscale restaurant, and leave the hiking boots in the closet.
Select Conservative Jewelry
It would be best to keep your jewelry choices tuned down with other parts of your outfit. If you are married, wearing your wedding band may be the only ring you want to wear. If you are not married, you may want to select a simple ring. Many women choose to wear a ring that quietly symbolizes their relationship with the person who has passed, like a silver ring with a cross on it. Leave your bulky turquoise rings and other flashy rings in your jewelry box.
Pick the Right Necklace
Likewise, it should be a conservative choice if you choose to wear a necklace. I always opt for a choker-style or short-chain necklace that is relatively plain. Consider a pendant necklace with a simple locket or bar. Alternatively, a simple chain necklace can be a good choice. Some people choose to wear pearls but choose a short option that will stay near your neck if this is your choice. Remember the person’s faith as some cultures, such as the Amish, do not allow women to wear jewelry.
Sort Out the Correct Earrings
My diamond stud earrings are my usual choice for wearing to a funeral. On the other hand, my mother usually wears her simple gold post-earrings. Smaller loop earrings can also be a good choice. As with other funeral clothing items, whatever choice you make, ensure that it does not add bling to your outfit. Some women will opt to leave out their earrings during the funeral so that they do not have to hassle with choosing a modest pair.
Pick Out the Correct Bracelet
While I am not one of them, some women feel naked without a bracelet on their wrists. If this describes you, then choose a simple one. Often, the best choice is a silver, gold, or rose gold tennis bracelet. Bangles and charm bracelets with lots of charms are not usually appropriate for a funeral. If you will wear an ankle bracelet, be sure that it has a simple design. You may want to select a simple small gold or silver chain.
Choosing Types of Women’s Clothing for Funerals
Select an outfit that is very modest to wear to a funeral. It should be a dress or suit covering your knees and shoulders in almost all cases. Keep the person’s culture in mind. For example, it is disrespectful to wear a dress that does not come down to the ankles to most Indian funerals. Additionally, you should always wear long sleeves to an Indian burial. Again, if you are in doubt, ask a family member or the funeral director before the appointed time.
Discover if Head Covering is Required
Discover ahead of time if you will need to cover your head while in the funeral or at the cemetery. In some Islam funeral ceremonies, it is expected that women will wear a hijab if they do not have on a niqab. At some Jewish funerals, women are expected to wear a sheitel to cover their hair, while you will need to wear a tichel at others. Some Christian groups, like the Amish, expect women to cover their heads with a simple bonnet.
Select the Right Weight Fabric
While we will have more to say on this subject in a couple of chapters, choose a dress made from materials that match the weather. In the summer, consider wearing lighter-weight fabrics. Give a special nod to those made from natural fabrics as they allow your body to breathe better. Conversely, in the winter, pick skirts and dresses made of heavier material to be warmer. Ponder dressing in layers as it will allow you to adjust your clothing between the funeral home, which may be warmer, and the cemetery, which may be colder.
Think About a Coat
You may need a coat during warmer months if the weather forecast predicts rain. You can opt for a waterproof trench coat or a dressy raincoat. Choose a wrap and belted coat, a dressy parka, or a heavier pea coat in the winter. As with your clothing, choose one in a dark or muted color. Bringing one along is often a great idea because you never know when you might need to wear it. If you do not need it, you can always leave it in your vehicle.
Now that you have some ideas on what to wear to a funeral if you are a woman, in the next chapter, we will take a look at what you should wear if you are a guy. Keep reading because we also offer some great advice on what to wear to a funeral in different seasons before giving you specific ideas.
Think of it as a tribute to the person you called a friend, co-worker, or relative. Following some simple tips can help you choose the right clothes to wear to a funeral.
Wear Dress Shoes
You need to wear dress shoes to almost any funeral. The only possible exception is a celebration of life where the family has given specific clothing suggestions.
Sorry guys, but this is not the place to wear your sneakers, moccasins, or other casual shoes.
You can choose from many different shoe styles, but you will want to opt for a pair that is black, deep brown, or another dark color.
If you opt for brown shoes remember that you can carefully combine them with black pants; see some brown shoes & black pants combinations.
The most popular choice in the funeral attire for men is oxfords. These shoes, sometimes called wingtips, offer the security of lacing up, which can help them stay on your feet when walking across the uneven ground at the cemetery. Choose options with a low heel so that you do not sink into lose ground.
Another popular option is derby shoes. Shoe manufacturers created these shoes for hunting and riding so that you can walk in them easily.
If the person lived a more laid-back lifestyle, black or dark brown loafers might be appropriate. Wear these slip-on shoes with dark socks if they are your choice for a funeral.
Regardless of which option you choose, make sure your shoes are clean and polished. If conditions at the cemetery are likely to be damp, waterproof your shoes to keep your feet dry.
You may also want to consider wearing dress boots, like a plain-toe or cap-toe boot that is a dark color. Select one that has a plain sole. In most cases, a funeral is not the time to wear your work boots or a more casual style.
Select a Dark-colored Suit
While many people will wear a black suit to a funeral, it is not the only color option. You can wear dark navy blue, dark brown, charcoal gray, and Cambridge gray suits.
Your suit should fit you well. Wearing a suit that is too small or too big is inappropriate because it draws attention to you when everyone’s focus should be on the one who has died. If it has been a while since you wore one, it may be time for a new one. Alternatively, you may need to hunt down your mother or another person who knows how to sew so that you can have your suit tailored in time for the funeral.
Single-or-double-breasted suits are both appropriate. You should wear a white handkerchief in the suit’s breast pocket.
If you decide to opt for a new suit, consider one made of nine-ounce weighted wool. This weight allows you to stay reasonably warm in the winter while still being breathable in the summer.
Choose a suit with a notch lapel if you are opting for a new one as they are more versatile. Suits with side vents usually look better and opt for a choice with flapped pockets. Smoke gray or self-colored buttons are both appropriate but do not choose a suit with buttons or other features that will draw attention to yourself.
Choose a Black Tie
Black ties are always appropriate in a funeral attire for a man. Select one that looks classical and does not have any cute designs. Most funerals are somber affairs, and you will want to keep your attire classical out of respect to the family who has lost their loved one.
The tie should be a standard width, just over 3 inches wide. The tie should be the correct length for your height. For men who are average height, opt for a tie that is about 57 inches long.
My husband is 6 feet 6 inches tall, so he needs a tie that is about 63 inches long. At the opposite end of the spectrum, my uncle is barely 5 feet tall, so he needs a shorter tie.
There are several types of black ties that you can wear to a funeral, including:
- Black solid tie – These ties are the most classical option, and you cannot go wrong with this choice in a standard width.
- Black tone-on-tone tie – The weave in these all-black ties makes them look like they are striped, and they are another great choice.
- Black pattern tie – These ties can be appropriate as long as the design’s subdued. Stick to ties in dark colors, like black and gray in a traditional pattern, like plaids, paisleys, stripes, or geometrics.
If you are short on time or money and do not have a black tie in your closet, you can wear a dark gray tie. Again, you can select between solid, tone-on-tone, or a patterned tie. If you are wearing a navy-blue suit, you can pair it with a navy-blue tie.
Pick the Right Belt
It would be very embarrassing if your pants fell during the ceremony, so choosing the right belt is an essential part of getting dressed for a funeral. Additionally, remember that you will need to kneel on a pillow or kneeling pew during some funerals, and you do not want people seeing things they should not see.
Several years ago, I attended a funeral for a well-known rancher. Several in attendance had on large belt buckles representing their ranch. While these would have looked great at a stock show, they were inappropriate for a funeral.
It would be best to choose a dark-colored belt that looks great with your outfit. You will want to wear a black or brown belt in most cases.
Choose a belt that is free of designs or has a very subtle design. Avoid belts with your name or other design boldly stamped on them. Likewise, the belt should have a simple buckle that is either gold or silver.
If you wear a watch, matching your belt to your watch’s band color makes the outfit look more put together. If not, then consider matching your belt color to your shoes.
Opt for the Right Shirt
The shirt you wear to a funeral should show respect by being clean and wrinkle-free. It should button up the front and look great under your suit coat.
A great choice, especially for men who have a round stomach, is a classical shirt with two pleats under the yoke in the back. They are comfortable to wear because there is enough fabric to make them easy to move in. The yoke should extend to your natural shoulder line. Select one that is long-sleeved to wear under your suitcoat.
A slim-fit dress shirt is another good option, especially for those with a slender build. These shirts have about 2.5 inches less fabric in the chest, and there’s about 4 inches less fabric in the waist, so be sure that you have a slender build, or you may end up looking like you tried to stuff your body into a shirt that was too small.
Guys who fall somewhere in the middle should consider a modern fit shirt. These shits have a little less fabric, so they will not look like they swallowed you up. At the same time, they have enough room that you can move comfortably. Get the best fit by choosing small darts under the yoke options.
Shirts with no pockets are most appropriate for funerals. Avoid options, like western shirts, that have a bold pattern. Additionally, select an option that has a full placket. You should not wear a tuxedo shirt to a funeral as it will draw attention to yourself and away from the one that everyone is there to honor.
Going With a Blazer
If you do not own a suit, you can wear a blazer and pants to most funerals. Just be sure to stick with muted and dark colors to not draw attention to yourself.
Pair the blazer with a long-sleeved dress shirt in a coordinating color. It is acceptable to wear a white dress shirt to most funerals as with jackets. You should follow the advice already lovingly given on choosing a dark-colored tie to wear with a blazer. Don’t hesitate to check out our complete list of all types of blazers to get more inspiration and outfit ideas.
Selecting the Right Pants to Wear With a Blazer
For funerals in the winter, consider wearing wool trousers. They are a great way to add some warmth to your outfit, and you may be glad you have them on at the cemetery. Another classical choice to wear with a blazer is slim-fit pants. Pleated pants are another outstanding choice, especially at a more formal funeral.
It would help if you skipped some styles of pants when attending a funeral. Do not wear jeans, cargo pants, sweatpants, or leather pants to a funeral.
Your pants don’t need to match the color of your blazer. Choose options that fall about halfway down the top of your foot. Select options that come just above your hips and wear them with a dark-colored belt.
Opt for the Right Coat
If the weather is rainy or cold, you will need to complete your funeral attire by selecting the right coat. There are a lot of types of coats, so choose the one that best fits the situation. A pea coat can be a great option. These double-breasted coats have three double-bottom closures and a wide-notched collar. Select one with gold buttons or buttons that are the same color as the coat. Choose one in a muted color, with black being a prevalent option. Since manufacturers often make these coats of woolen material, they can be a great choice in cold weather.
A good option for rainy weather or for funerals where it is almost warm enough to go without a coat is a trench coat. Like pea coats, these coats have a double row of buttons down their front, and they usually have a belt. Try to find options ending about your shins.
Manufacturers make overcoats for you to wear over suits, and they have a wider cut. You may know these coats as topcoats if you live in a climate that is often warm or as a greatcoat if you live in an area with harsher winters.
Picking the Right Hat
Depending on the person’s belief system, you may need to wear a hat as a sign of respect for the person whose funeral you are attending. Not all types of hats are suitable to wear in a funeral. In some cases, the funeral director will ask you to cover your head but not wear the head covering unless you share the person’s faith.
Muslims and Islamic followers wear a rounded skullcap called a taqiyah. In the Jewish faith, followers wear a kippah, but there is a slight variation in its design based on the wearer’s age. Turbans are also worn by several groups worldwide. Contact the family or the funeral director to answer specific questions if you have any questions.
Wear Minimal Fragrances
While you will want to look clean and polished for a funeral, wearing strong aftershaves and colognes can be overpowering as people pack into a tight spot. Either skip these all together or wear options with a minimal fragrance. Wearing smell goods that are too strong can irritate the respiratory system of those there to pay tribute to the person who has passed along with you.
The next chapter will cover different types of funeral services and provide you with expert guidance on how the kind of service affects what you should wear. Therefore, you should be sure to keep reading as it may change some of your specific wardrobe plans. Keep in mind that the funeral attire for men can drastically change depending on the type of service.
There are many types of services worldwide, so this is not an exhaustive list. Instead, it will give you some general guidance on the main types of funerals.
What to wear to Funerals
Most people choose to have a funeral, where their body is present in a casket. Some families choose to have an open casket, where you can view the body, while others prefer to have a closed casket, with the coffin remaining throughout the entire service.
In some faiths, like Islam, only men can attend the funeral, and they will need to remove their shoes before entering the mosque. Be prepared for this because no one likes smelly surprises.
You will want to dress up during the funeral service. Women will want to wear a modest dress and dress shoes. Men will want to wear a suit coat or a blazer. Both sexes should wear black or muted colors in most cases. You should wear your dress shoes or boots.
Funerals vary greatly by faith. Like the Jewish faith, some religions require that men and women cover their heads. Some funeral homes will provide one if you do not have an appropriate head covering.
What to wear to a Visitation
When attending a visitation, it’s advisable you wear something modest. The best rule of thumb is to dress somehow conservatively. Pick an outfit in dark, muted, or neutral colors and opt for modest accessories. A funeral visitation usually takes place a day before the funeral. Make sure you avoid flamboyant or brilliant colors. The same applies to colorful prints.
Men can wear a suit and tie. Nonetheless, a dress shirt, dress pants, and a tie are also acceptable. Gray, navy blue, black and brown are suitable colors for your attire. If the weather is warm, you can select a lighter suit fabric. But don’t wear short sleeves, please.
As for women, the funeral dress code for attending a visitation is quite ample. You can wear a dress, a blouse, a skirt, dress slacks, a sweater, pantsuit, suit skirt, etc. Ensure your shoulders are covered, and your necklines are modest. Appropriate colors are the same as for men.
In some communities, it’s common for women to wear hats. If that’s the case, opt for a modest design. As for jewelry, pick something modest. The typical pearl necklace, a small gold chain and pendant, and small earrings are preferable. You can either wear flats or modest heels. Avoid flashy shoes.
What to wear to a Memorial Service
A memorial service is like a funeral service, but the body has already been buried or cremated. Since families have more time to plan the ceremony that can occur any time after a person’s death, families have more time to get creative with how they want to say goodbye to their loved one. Often photos of the deceased are shown along with special musical performances.
At the same time, memorial services are usually formal affairs. Therefore, women should wear a muted-colored dress with a modest neckline. The dress should cover the knees and shoulders. Keep jewelry to a minimum, and leave any bling pieces at home. Closed-toe dress shoes are usually a must, but you can wear heels because you will not be going to the cemetery.
Men should wear a suit or blazer to a memorial service, and they will also want to wear dress shoes and a simple belt. While black is the most common color worn to a memorial service, you can also wear other dark colors. Men who wear jewelry will want to keep it toned down not to attract attention. Keep all colors muted as you are there to pay respect to the family, and you do not want to draw attention to yourself.
What to wear to a Committal Service
A committal service is held at the cemetery, also called a graveyard service. Since these services usually occur outdoors, it is vital to dress for the weather. It is still essential that you wear dark colors as a sign of respect for the family.
Committal services are usually more informal than services held at a funeral home or house of worship. Therefore, women can wear nice dress slacks and a button-down or dressy top. They may still wear a modest dress if they want. Women will want to choose formal footwear that allows them to easily walk on uneven ground.
Men may still want to wear a dark-colored suit coat or blazer to a committal service. They may also wear nice corduroy pants or other dress slacks and put a sweater with it, instead. Men should wear dressy footwear that allows them to walk easily on grass.
Both men and women will want to wear dark-colored clothing. Leave all the jewelry that might draw attention to you at home because you are there to pay respect for the person who has passed. You should also not wear anything provocative or has holes in it.
In some areas of the United States, families hold commitment services for people who have a lower income, and the deceased also had friends who had a lower income in many cases. At these services, dress codes are often significantly relaxed so that people who cannot afford nice dresses and suits can pay their final respects. If this describes the situation, dress in the best clothes you own and pay your respects.
What to wear to a Celebration of Life
A celebration of life can occur at any time after a person passes. As the name suggests, it is not a time of mourning. Instead, it is a celebration of the loved one’s life. I already shared with you how everyone wore Dallas Cowboy shirts to Ginger Moore’s celebration of life service and purple to Katrina’s little boy’s service. Families of the deceased often ask people to dress in a particular way during these ceremonies.
If you have not gotten any announcement, consider where the family is holding the event. If it is at a funeral home or house of worship, consider dressing up for the occasion, even though there is no expectation that you stick with muted colors.
Women will want to wear modest dresses covering their knees and shoulders. You should still wear dress shoes and keep jewelry to a minimum. Men will want to wear a suit coat or blazer and dress shoes.
If the family holds the celebration of life at a park or other venue, consider what the family expects you to do during the service. If it is a time to share stories, consider dressing like you would for a nice picnic. In that case, women may want to wear dress slacks and shoes that allow them to walk easily, while men may want to wear dress slacks and a button-down shirt.
What to wear to a Wake
Wakes are formal affairs held in families where the deceased was usually a practicing Catholic. So, what do you wear to a wake? You should wear black or another muted color, such as dark brown or gray, to a wake.
Women will want to wear dresses to a wake with a modest neckline and cover their shoulders.
When my daughter was a teenager, her favorite teacher passed away. At the last moment, she decided to spend her lunch break at her job as a sandwich artist to go to the wake. At that time, we lived in a tiny town. While the family warmly welcomed her to the service, several older congregation members asked me later if I knew what a person should wear to a wake.
A dress worn to a wake should cover their knees, and you may want to wear a dress with a blazer in the cooler months. Since a wake typically occurs at a funeral home or the church, women can wear high heels without the fear of falling on uneven ground.
Likewise, men should wear a dark-colored suit or blazer to a wake. They should hold their pants up with a belt that does not draw attention to the wearer. It is acceptable to wear a white shirt under a dark coat. Men should also wear a black or dark-colored tie.
What to wear to a Viewing
A wake, also known as a viewing, refers to a gathering for close friends and family. It’s called like this because it’s an open-casket viewing of the body. In fact, a viewing is a traditional Catholic celebration to express your condolences and share grief. It’s considered a high honor when you’re invited to such an event. Thus, you must dress properly. You’ll be expected to wear formal or dressy-casual attire. What’s more, if you happen to know the family style and sensibilities, it’s mandatory you dress accordingly.
Now you have a deeper understanding of what clothes to wear to different types of funeral services. Keep reading as we take a closer look at how weather should affect your clothing choices. We will dig in deeper with specific recommendations for what to wear during hot and cold weather.
We will give you specifics for both men and women for each season. Understanding how the weather affects your funeral clothing choice allows you to be comfortable and fashionable at any funeral service.
Funeral in Spring
Early spring days can bring very unpredictable weather, while the temperatures can warm up drastically in late spring.
Women may want to dress in layers in the spring. In the early spring, you may want to wear or bring along a heavier wrap coat to wear at the cemetery. Even if the weather does not predict rain, you may want to bring along a dress raincoat for popup showers.
Spring is a super time to wear a jacket dress so that you can adjust your clothing as temperatures rise or drop. A maxi dress with sleeves that you roll up or down depending on the weather can also be an outstanding choice. Another great option is a tea-length dress to adjust the sleeve length.
Keep in mind the amount of wind you may experience during the funeral when picking your dress. You do not want to choose one where a big gust of wind will make it blow up over your head.
In areas where the wind often blows, think about wearing a hat to a spring funeral, even in places that do not require one for religious reasons. Wearing a hat can help hold your hair in place on windy days.
Men will also want to consider dressing in layers during the spring. If the weather person predicts temperatures to be cooler, then wearing a fully lined suit can be a great choice. Consider one with no vent so that the vents are not blowing in the wind if you will be outside for part of the ceremony.
Whether you wear a suit or a sportscoat, consider wearing one made from cashmere. This fabric breathes very well, so you will not feel stuffy. It offers some warmth for spring funerals on cooler days.
A lighter tweed fabric can also make a great choice because it offers added warmth. Just make sure to wear one with a modern cut that flatters your body’s shape.
Likewise, both men and women might want to add a pair of elegant sunglasses to their funeral attire. Spring and summer funerals may occur on sunny days. As you may well have already experienced, it is very annoying when the sun dazzles you. Not all types of sunglasses will serve you well for these occasions. Ensure you wear a pair of respectful, stylish sunglasses that match your funeral attire.
Funeral in Summer
High temperatures can often pose a problem for summertime funerals. You may want to put on some sunscreen before attending a funeral in the summer.
Women can choose from many different dress styles. Remember that you need to keep it modest, which means covering your shoulders in most cases. You will also want to wear one with a modest neckline, and it should be at least knee-length.
Additionally, you may want to consider the dress’ fabric to help you stay cooler in the summer better than others. Linen and cotton are beautiful natural fabrics worth considering in the summer. Rayon is another fabulous choice as it stands up very well to humid conditions.
You should wear closed-toed shoes to a funeral, even in the summertime. Be sure to pick an option that allows you to walk well. Women may want to wear ballerina flats, pumps, or Mary Janes. On hot days, a black or muted color pair of espadrilles without any embellishments can be appropriate for a less formal summer funeral.
Like linen women’s dresses, wearing linen or cotton suit are great options for men in the summer because the fabric will help to keep you cooler. A seersucker suit can be a fabulous summer choice as long as you stay with a muted color. One unique option to consider is a fresco suit. These suits made from multiple layers of wool have a very open weave, which can help you stay cooler in the summer.
Choosing a suit without any lining is an excellent option for summer funerals. You do not want the bulk of multiple layers to make you warmer.
Stick with closed-toe shoe options. Oxfords, derbies, cap toes, and wingtips in black or a very dark brown are the most appropriate. Choose a pair that you can walk in easily.
Funeral in Fall
Since fall weather can be unpredictable, think about layering up for a fall funeral. While you do not need as many layers as you will for a winter funeral, wearing layers allows you to adjust your wardrobe as the weather changes quickly.
Women may want to consider types of dresses with different sleeve styles for fall funerals. Bracelet sleeves covering ¾ of your arm can make a great fall funeral choice. Lantern and bishop sleeves are long-sleeves made in two parts and are often an excellent choice for fall when made out of a lighter-weight fabric.
You may want to consider wearing a cape or a shawl to a fall funeral. Choose one in a muted color that does not have a lot of flashy detailing on it.
Even if not required by religious customs, wearing a head covering to a fall funeral can be a good idea. Stick with muted colors, but do not be afraid to use a tone-on-tone or other geometric design. Wearing a silk scarf is ultra-comfortable on warmer fall days, while opting for a wool one will provide warmth on a cooler day.
Men should wear a dark or muted suit or sportscoat to a fall funeral. Often choosing a half-lined option is an excellent option because it adds a little warmth.
Consider options made of worsted wool. These suits provide a layer of insulation for cooler fall days. These suits come in a variety of weights. Choosing a dark one near the middle in weight allows you to wear it to fall funerals and throughout most of the winter.
Fall is the perfect time to wear dress boots to a funeral. Boots are acceptable in most circumstances as long as you clean and polish them before the funeral.
What to wear to a funeral in winter
Choosing the right wardrobe for a winter funeral can be tricky as houses of worship and funeral homes can be stuffy, while cemeteries can be bitter cold.
Women will want to opt for long or maxi dresses in a muted color for a winter wedding. Wearing a long dress can be very beneficial because you can stick a pair of leggings or pantyhose underneath them to stay warmer. Choose options with long sleeves and made from heavier fabrics.
Get out your favorite pair of black dress gloves to wear to the funeral. You will also want to wear a dressy winter coat. As I said earlier, you can choose between several styles of coats, like pea, trench, wrap, and belted coats.
Make sure you wear shoes that will allow you to walk easily. Shoes with a small box-style heel often provide better traction.
Men will want to dress warmly for a winter funeral. Wearing a wool suit in a heavy weave is often the best solution. You may also want to consider a dark corduroy suit coat. Choose an option that is fully lined and wear a long-sleeved shirt underneath it.
Men should also wear a coat to a winter funeral. As long as the contrast in the velvet collar is subtle, a dark-colored covert coat can be a great choice. Like pea coats and double-breasted overcoats, classical coat styles also work very well. A winter funeral is a perfect place to wear dress gloves and a dress scarf.
Men should also choose their footwear carefully. Consider opting for a pair of dress wool socks. Wearing socks that rise above the calf adds a layer of warmth to your outfit.
Now you have a great idea of what to wear to a funeral in any weather. Funerals can be stressful, so instead of spending hours fretting about what to wear to a funeral, head to the next chapter for some specific recommendations. We have hand-curated many different choices, so you can easily find the perfect funeral outfit for you.
Most of you may already be thinking about items in your current wardrobe that you can wear to a funeral. Yet, you may be a little puzzled about the specifics.
Consider these funeral outfits to add the finishing touches to your funeral attire.
Black button-down Dress
Look wonderful at a funeral in a black button-down dress. Selecting one made from linen that is knee-length provides a crisp appearance. Look for options with offset buttons in a dark gold color to add some visual interest.
A small gold locket in a color similar to the dress’ buttons makes a simple accessory, and it also helps draw the viewer’s attention to your face and your simple hair design. Consider carrying a black crossover bag to make it easy to bring your driver’s license, tissue, and other necessities. A pair of black ballet flats look fantastic with this look and makes it easy to walk.
Black Suit Jacket Dress
A black suit jacket dress is the perfect option for a winter funeral. Select a tailored option that nicely fits your body type. Wool options will help you stay warmer in cold weather. Think about the outfit’s details, like a notched collar or front slit pockets. Choosing an option with pockets allows you a space to carry tissues and other necessities in if you decide to lock your purse in your car’s trunk.
This option pairs beautifully with a pair of black pumps. A white pearl choker necklace is a classic choice that draws attention to your face. In cold weather, pair this option with a black belted wrap coat and wear black dress gloves.
Black Long-sleeved Dress With Shirred Waist
A black long-sleeved dress with its shirred waist makes a perfect funeral outfit for a fall or spring funeral when the weather cannot quite decide what it wants to do. Choose an option long enough to cover your knees easily. If the dress has a round neckline, it will look perfect with a short diamond pendant on a simple gold chain choker necklace.
Consider wearing it with a pair of black mules. Think about choosing a pair with a simple gold design on top of them. Carrying a baguette bag will help to complete the look. Pair your outfit with a black trench coat with black buttons and a black belt if the weather is chilly.
Black Poplin Dress
A black poplin dress in an empire cut is an excellent option for a funeral in warmer weather. The pleats in this dress’ skirt perfectly flatter your body. Select a choice with a full skirt that will easily cover your knees, or pick a tea-length dress instead. The full-skirt lets any air movement reach your skin to help keep you cool. Poplin is a lightweight fabric that is perfect for a hot summer day.
Closed-toed black espadrilles flats are perfect for walking on uneven ground and go wonderfully with a poplin dress. Think about tone-on-tone black options. The simple design of the gold tennis bracelet is ideal for summertime wear. Complete the look with a little black box clutch.
Black Maxi Dress
A black maxi dress made of cotton is perfect for funerals, especially where women need to cover their shoulders and ankles. Think about selecting one with a high waist as it will flatter your body. Ensure that the maxi dress has sleeves. Options with ruched ruffle cuffs help keep the shoulders covered while adding visual interest. Choosing a maxi dress with a princess-cut bodice helps flatter the woman’s figure. Ensure the dress has a modest neckline.
A black maxi dress pairs beautifully with a simple gold ring. Options with a small pendant on the front, like those with a small cross, look fantastic with this look. Complete the look with a small pair of gold earrings.
Black Belted Dress
A black belted dress with ¾-length sleeves is perfect for a spring or fall funeral. The belt helps to break up the look of the dress, so it flatters a woman’s body better. I especially love the look of one with a modest V-neck neckline. A black silk choker necklace adds dramatic interest without drawing attention to yourself.
Consider carrying a black patent leather clutch that is barely big enough to carry your essentials. The clutch pairs beautifully with black patent leather loafers with a short box-style heel, which will help you walk better on uneven ground.
Women’s Pants Suit
If you are attending a celebration of life service at an outdoor venue, a dressy pants suit can be a great option. Usually, you are not expected to wear black, so pick one in a modest color. I still would not wear one in a bold or neon color. Opt for choices with a modest neckline and one that covers your shoulders. Picking pants suit with pockets makes it easy to carry essentials.
Often, footwear takes on a more relaxed vibe at a celebration of life. Keep in mind that you will be attending an outdoor event, but you can wear your favorite dress sandals. If the weather is a little cool, pair the pants suit with a pretty sweater in the same or a coordinating color. Fix your hair so that wind will not ruin its style by wearing it pulled back with a beautiful hair clip.
Black Three-piece Suit
A black three-piece suit is an excellent option for a funeral when the weather is a little cool. It provides a traditional appearance ideal for a funeral held at a funeral home or house of worship. Choosing an option with a breast pocket allows you to easily tuck in a pocket scarf to add visual interest to the outfit.
Pair it with a black button-down dress shirt in the same color as the suit to create a stunning monochromatic look. Wearing a tone-on-tone black tie adds some interesting details while still looking classical. A black belt without a design that closes with a silver buckle helps complete the look. This option goes very nicely with black oxfords.
Dark Gray Wool Suit
A dark wool suit is ideal for a winter funeral as the fabric provides excellent insulation. Keep the look classical by sticking a black suit pocket square in the breast pocket. Selecting an option with flap pockets allows you to securely carry your car keys and other necessities. Wearing this suit with a black tie helps to keep the look somber and pays respect to the sadness being experienced by the family. Opt for a white button-down dress shirt to provide a little contrast to your outfit.
Select a black belt with no design and a simple gold or silver closure to keep from attracting attention away from why you are attending the funeral. Complete the look by wearing black derby shoes.
Black Two-piece Cotton Suit
It is easy to create a monochromatic look with a black two-piece cotton suit ideal for a summer funeral. Look for options with black buttons on the jacket’s sleeves to create a classical look. Think about options with subtle piped pockets to add some interest while giving you space to carry your necessities. A cotton button-down shirt easily breathes so that you will stay comfortable inside the house of worship or funeral home.
Pair it with a black tie in regular width and a black design-less belt. Add a touch of visual interest by wearing black half-brogue shoes with a simple medallion design on the top of them.
Black V-neck Sweater
A black-sweater outfit is perfect for wearing to a celebration of life ceremony. Denim-colored button-down shirts pair amazingly well with the black V-neck sweater. Choose a black sweater that does not have a design to show that you understand that you are at a solemn event.
I love how a simple black belt and black chukkas help complete this look. Chukkas are a great choice if the family holds the event at an outdoor venue. Black dress pants with deep slit pockets that naturally disappear into the side of the pants give you even more space to keep essentials while participating in activities that the family has planned for the celebration of life ceremony.
Black Travel Blazer
A black travel blazer can be a great option if the family has a more casual vibe. In cooler weather, wear a black sweater, a white dress shirt, and a black tie underneath it and pair it with black dress pants. A black travel blazer can also be a great option in warmer weather because you can wear a button-down shirt and a tie. Look for a travel blazer that is an appropriate weight for the weather, allowing you to stay comfortable. You can either pair the blazer with ankle-high formal boots or wear it with a pair of lace-up dress shoes.
I have enjoyed sharing these details with you, and I hope you will follow the advice the next time you need to go to a funeral.
Keep in mind that it is best to dress modestly regardless of the type of funeral service the family chooses to host. You will want to wear black or another muted color at most funerals. There are definitely exceptions to that rule, including a celebration of life services.
Respecting the person who has passed faith often may put you out of your comfort zone. For instance, white is worn to many Chinese funerals and those held by families of the Hindu faith.
The most important thing you can do is go to the person’s funeral. In almost all cases, the family will appreciate you being there.
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