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Thank you, SW Barratt

Red roses on a coffin

What to Wear at a Funeral

Published: December 8, 2023

Man and woman hugging at funeral

Are you not sure what to wear to a funeral? Choosing an outfit to wear at a funeral is a dilemma in which no individual wants to find themselves. You’re likely to be a little overwhelmed to select something suitable, and preparing yourself for that occasion can be a moving experience.

However, it’s often unnecessary to purchase or hire new clothing for a specific funeral. Especially if you lack the money or time to shop around. The perfect funeral clothing ensures you remain respectful towards family’s wishes and deceased, especially when you’re attending the event as a guest.

If you feel uncomfortable wearing nearly all black , you can go for darker tones, like grey, navy or dark green. Also, the deceased’s family may ask you to dress in a specific colour. They may decide to follow this path because that colour was the departed’s most preferred colour. Some families may consider this option because colourful customised send offs are gaining more popularity.

Family at graveside

Women can consider business attire, black clothing and subdued tones. They can also consider a white blouse and black slacks.

What not to wear to a funeral

It’s not recommended to wear attention-grabbing clothing. Both men and women should avoid casual clothing such as denim, bright colours & tee-shirts.

Tips for what to wear at a funeral

Funerals refer to the traditional word used for end-of-life services with deceased bodies present. On the other hand, memorial services honour the dead in the absence of the body. Mostly, memorial services are less formal, and they tend to concentrate more on celebrating the departed life than death.

At a more traditional or church service, mourners can be expected to dress in black or wear dark formal funeral clothing. But for most memorial services, the primary requirement is for the mourners to wear neat & tidy outfits in darker colours. These attires need to communicate mourning & sympathy, hence showing respect to the departed & their family.

Man and woman holding hands

Most church services demand a higher respect level than what’s observed on memorial services. Generally, expectations vary based on the type of funeral service or the departed’s individual personality. However, the primary point is to wear respectful and modest funeral clothing. Taking effort and much of your time to appear neat and respectful speaks a lot about honouring the departed and respecting the deceased’s friends and family members.

Celebration of life memorial services

There may be little to zero expectation to wear formal dress for a ‘celebration of life,’ memorial service, or non-traditional funeral service. If in doubt, it is always best to ask the deceased family if they have a dress preference.

Mourners can be asked to wear clothes featuring the deceased’s favourite colour with a celebratory and bright look. However, it’s good to attend the funeral service being more overdressed than underdressed when uncertain.

What to wear at a funeral for a man

Funeral events are moments to fade to the situation and blend with the mourners as each individual honours the departed and remains respectful to the departed loved ones. Remain sensitive to this event by wearing something simple and subdued as outlined below. Other appropriate options apart from a suit include dark plain trousers, jumper or dress trousers with a plain white or light blue shirt.

Shirt for a funeral

Man in shirt & tie

White takes the traditional option when it comes to funeral shirts. 

If you do not prefer the conventional white shirt, consider wearing a dark-toned or black shirt. While plain black will always be best, subtle patterns can also work well. Whatever you decide, do not opt for short-sleeved shirts when attending funerals. Short-sleeved shirts are more casual for this event, and other families can see them as negative to the special occasion. Wearing a tie is always advised.

Funeral suits

Man in black suit

When wearing funeral clothing, men should always go for three-piece or two-piece suits as a sign of respect. If you dress in a suit you will never run the risk of showing a disrespectful and underdressed sign at the funeral service. Black falls under the best choices and natural options for funeral suits. This dark colour plays a pivotal role in conveying your grief for that situation.

Likewise, do not feel restricted if you don’t like the black colour, or do not have a black suit. Dark grey and charcoal suits are excellent options to consider. Like black suits, dark grey and charcoal suits will appropriately speak for the event’s sombre mood and display your respect.

Do not worry if you lack a dark grey suit or black one and can’t manage to purchase or hire one before that particular day. Consider also a dark suit such as dark navy. At this sorrowful occasion most do not wear bold stripes, checks or patterns. Thin pinstripes are acceptable.

Funeral shoes

Dress, laced & black shoes are the most preferred for funeral occasions. These funeral shoes are the traditional options, and they will suit dark-toned or black-toned suits. Avoid trainers, flip flops or sandals even if the weather is very hot. These show too much of a casual look for such a sad event.

Mens black shoes copy

Do not worry if you don’t have black shoes. Dark brown shoes are excellent alternatives to consider. Also, ensure your funeral shoes match well with a leather belt of the same colour for a cohesive appearance.

Funeral pocket squares, ties & cufflinks

A tie is something that funeral services require you to wear. Solid black ties are the most preferred traditional tie choices for funerals. However, don’t worry if you don’t like this option. You can use understated patterns and other dark colours as the perfect alternatives. Ensure that the tie knot is neatly tied on the day.

Handkerchief in pocket

You can also consider cufflinks when wearing funeral attire. You can complete that formal appearance with proper polish by adding small & classic cufflinks. Pocket squares (handkerchief) are not necessary for funeral services, but you can wear plain white pocket squares if you wish.

You may also want to wear a hat. If that’s your plan, then go for a dark colour hat with classic style so that you don’t stand out. It is best to take the hat off during the service.

What to wear at a funeral for a woman

Black funeral dresses – Avoid brightly coloured dresses

You cannot go wrong if you wear black suits or a dress to funeral services. But don’t worry if you don’t like black funeral dresses. You can wear a dress with other dark colours, such as navy, brown or grey. Trouser suits can also be worn with a plain white blouse.

Woman in black dress
Woman in black clothes

Everyone has those vibrant & bright dresses they prefer wearing whenever they put them on. But, a funeral service does not welcome these dresses. These outfits are too bright, unless it was the wish of the deceased or family for the mourners to be brightly dressed.

Go for subtle patterns – Avoid loud & bold patterns

When selecting dresses featuring patterns, consider going for those with subtle designs, like pinstripes & lace. Loud & bold patterns are not preferred in funeral services because they can distract other attendees. Always note that this service does not focus on you.

Avoid sequins & other sparkly dresses

Generally, sequins & other sparkly dresses are a big no when considering the best funeral dress. Sparkly dresses only work well on upbeat events or parties and not at a funeral.

Consider covered shoulders

It is best if the dress covers your shoulders. Consider using a kimono or other type of shawl to shelter the sleeveless dress, if your dress exposes the shoulders.

Go for modest clothing – Avoid tight & skimpy clothing

A dress’s fit & cut are as crucial as the pattern & colour when choosing the best funeral attire. Avoid revealing outfits when attending funeral services.

The best funeral dress hides the shoulders, features a modest neckline that doesn’t show cleavage and features at minimum knee-length. Dresses featuring sleeves and high necklines are chic and work well as funeral attire. Black dresses that cover the back work well at funerals, but they are not recommended if they are tight and skimpy. Avoid any dress that’s shorter than knee-length and features cut-outs or spaghetti straps.

Go for stylish & classic shoes

Consider going for black, navy, brown or grey shoes like the funeral outfit option. You can also wear shoes featuring deep colours, such as maroon, or those featuring light neutral colours, such as beige.

For instance, you can go for black shoes featuring modest height heels and designs that are not highly ‘over-the-top.’

Women's black shoes

Avoid platform shoes, sandals & flip flops

Keep it simple! Large platforms are not the best choice for funerals, as two bold. Return the shoes to the wardrobe if you check them and feel that they will work well when used on a beach. Always avoid trainers as they create a casual appearance at a solemn event.

The funeral clothing should let the departed’s family realise that you set aside much of your time understanding the occasion’s importance and dressing appropriately.

Makeup jewellery and handbag

You should consider natural/minimal makeup, classic/simple jewellery, and a classic simple dark colour handbag.

Coats and accessories for men and women

Funeral hats & umbrellas

Knowing what to wear at a funeral is important but you can also carry an umbrella if you expect rain on that funeral day and the event is outdoors. However, the umbrella must be classic/black with no patterns to ensure you don’t stand out. For an indoor service, inquire from the event host if you can get an out-of-the-way location to stow the umbrella during that duration. Walking around with the umbrella will look improper, and it can make it challenging & awkward to offer condolences and shake hands at the ceremony.

Woman wearing black veil hat

Women’s hats & fascinator

You may also want to wear a hat. If that’s your plan, then go for a dark colour hat with classic style so that you don’t stand out. Some prefer to take off the hat during the service. Black fascinators can also be worn.

Funeral coats

If appropriate, dress in a coat, but this depends on the weather. If it’s an outdoor funeral or one that’s happening on a specifically cold/wet day, then consider wearing an appropriate coat. Long, black coats with classic styles are preferred.

Mans black coat

Man’s overcoat

Womans black coat

Woman’s overcoat

Select between designs, such as traditional topcoats & overcoats featuring woollen fabrics. Trenches, carcoats, peacoats, and other coats can also work well. No matter the style you go for, the best outwear is the one with an understated appearance.

Consider removing the coat while the ceremony is on if it’s an indoor funeral.

What to wear at a funeral for a child

Girl in black dress

Basically, the same rule applies to children’s clothing as for a man and woman. Although for boys, ties and suits are not expected to be worn. Instead, smart dark trousers and shoes, with a plain neutral shirt and maybe a jumper if cold.

What to wear at a wake 

The wake, or reception as some refer too follows after the funeral. It’s the moment when the deceased family members and colleagues show their respect to the departed. The atmosphere is normally quite upbeat compared to the funeral.

As the wake is after the funeral, most people normally simply wear the same clothes that they wore to the funeral. Sometimes women change into a flat style shoe for more comfort as there can often be a lot of standing to talk to other mourners. Likewise, umbrellas and coats can be put away before attending.

What to wear at a funeral in the Summer

Wear the same clothing in the summer as the rest of the year. However, the funeral service location will determine what to wear to a funeral in the summer. Prepare yourself for heat & sun if you’ll be attending an outdoor graveside service. Ensure that you wear lightweight clothing and avoid several layers if possible. Also, consider fabrics, such as linens/cotton, because they breathe and ensure you can remain as cool as possible. Do not wear shorts to a funeral service even if it is a hot day.

Men can leave off wearing a suit jacket and waistcoat in the summer but should still wear a tie with the shirt. 

If you are a woman avoid short length dresses at all costs. You should also say no to dresses that expose a significant percentage of your shoulders and chest.

Both men and women can also consider sunglasses. However, avoid going for fun or colourful summer sunglasses. Simple, black lens sunglasses are the most preferred.

What to wear at a funeral in Winter

When it come to thinking of what to wear at a funeral in the winter, you must concentrate more on the outwear. Consider wearing dark coats and maybe accessories like hats, scarves, and gloves if it’s an outdoor funeral. Accessories should be a neutral tone without bold patterns. Both dark and plain neutral colour knitted hats or beanies can be worn by both men and women.

Women should avoid high heels if at an outdoor funeral service. Waterproof boots featuring good traction, especially when walking across snow, should be worn.

Womans tall black boots

Women’s boots

Womans black boots

Women’s boots

For additional ideas on what to wear for women visit What to wear to a Funeral.

Conclusion 

What to wear at a funeral should not stress you. If you do not own the clothing required, you can often hire it for the day. The most significant thing is that you’re taking a step to attend the event. A funeral is not a moment for attendees to judge others because their primary task is to deal with their grief and mourn a loss. If you attend in any of the clothing we have discussed above, you’re on the right path.

If you need related additional advice visit funeral service and funeral wake ideas.

If you found this article interesting, and would like to learn more about how to save money on a funeral, locating quality low-cost funerals, low-cost headstones, natural burials, DIY funerals, free financial help from the Government and charities as well as bereavement support, then please visit Save Funeral Costs™

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