A commonly asked question is what to wear to a funeral or memorial service?
It used to be that black was the only appropriate funeral attire. These days funerals are not as formal as they once were, and colours other than black are usually appropriate.
Unless there has been a request for bright colours as a dress code (or any other dress code specified which is becoming more common) it’s safest to stick with traditional funeral appropriate dress to ensure that you are being respectful.
What to Wear to a Funeral
- Dark colours – it doesn’t have to be black these days, but wearing an outfit made from overall dark colour shows respect. If you don’t want to wear (or don’t have any) black, try navy or charcoal grey.
- Cover up – a funeral is not the time to show off lots of skin. Keep your shoulders and upper arms covered, as well as legs down to the knees. Be careful of how low cut your neckline is as well.
- Ditch the jeans – yes you may have black jeans – but denim is not formal enough for a funeral. Leave your denim for casual occassions.
- Add colour if appropriate – if the deceased was known for a favourite colour, a touch of that colour in your outfit is an appropriate addition in an accessory or detail.
- Avoid brightly coloured patterns – in general, avoid patterns and stick to solid coloured fabrics for funerals.
- Not skin tight – modesty is polite at a funeral. It’s not the place to “pick up” and wearing a “body con” dress is not the way to go. Along with keeping covered, skimming, not clinging is the way to go.
- Feet first – keep your tootsies covered. Closed toe shoes (no sandals or thongs/flip-flops) are always the appropriate choice when men wear suits. Avoid athletic shoes too. Anything that screams “outdoor leisure” is not appropriate at a funeral (and that goes for your black activewear).
- Waterproof your mascara – if you’re likely to shed a tear or two then make sure you’ve gone for the waterproof mascara – worrying about black streaks running down your face isn’t something you need at this time.
- Be culturally aware – these guidelines are for standard Western funerals. If you are going to a funeral of a different culture or religion (where you may be required to dress in a specific colour or cover your head or the like) do some research online before you go.
Many people keep some black in their wardrobe for funerals (even though they don’t wear it day to day). On the whole these days another deep colour will work well (unless it’s a very formal occasion or there is a specific cultural/religious dress code) and you could easily find an appropriate outfit from clothes you wear in colours that are more flattering for you.
And if you want more tips on wearing black when it’s not a flattering colour, check out these posts: