Dress Etiquette at a Funeral

Proper Funeral Dress Etiquette

Funerals can be a confusing time for most people attending, and so can choosing an outfit to wear to that funeral.  Although it is common knowledge that one should never attend a funeral in their Friday night clubbing outfit most people are still confused about what to wear and put a lot of emphasis on color.  Although most people are under the impression that they should wear only black to funeral in modern times the color you wear is less important than the style of clothing you are wearing.  The wearing of black clothing by the immediate family is an old tradition that is not nearly so important today.

Wearing black clothing to the funeral and sometimes for weeks or months following the death of a loved one is something that has been done by mourners for hundreds of years but as our society evolved so did our way of showing respect in mourning.  Although most people still wear dark colors on the day of the funeral and to memorials for the deceased it is no longer a required or even assumed way to dress.

Since you will be expected to sit or stand for expected periods of times at the funeral and during the memorial service it is a good idea to wear something that is not only conservative, but also comfortable and easy to move in.  There will likely be a lot of sitting standing walking and hugging so you will want to be comfortable while also looking smart and respectful.  Dress pants and dress shirt with a tie and removable sports jacket is usually sufficient for men while a dress, skirt, or a dress pant and dress shirt combination is usually ideal for women.

The color you choose should be directly representative of the type of funeral that you are attending.  If you have been asked to attend the ‘funeral’ of your loved one or friend you should choose darker or more neutral colors, where as if you are attending the ‘celebration of the life’ of a person you might choose more color in your outfit.  With more color you might add a sash to your dress, or wear a colored dress shirt rather than plain white or choose a red, pink, green, or other colored tie.  Regardless of the type of funeral formal dress is always suggested, although at memorial services that is not always the case.  At memorial services that are held somewhere other than a church or funeral home you should dress for the location.   If everyone is gathering for a drink and celebration at the deceased favorite pub or restaurant, casual dress is usually acceptable.

What it all boils down to is you need to think about the person who has passed away, and think about the other people who will be attending the funeral.  How close are you to this person?  What would he or she wear to your funeral?  How do you want the other attendees to remember you?  Although it is in poor taste for an attendee to comment on a person’s clothing selection, this is a memory they will have of you forever, try to make it a positive memory.

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