Advice on What to Wear to a Funeral Service

One question we frequently hear is “What should I wear to a funeral service?” These days, the answer can be as varied as funeral service itself.

In recent years, the rules around acceptable funeral attire have become much more relaxed than the fairly formal requirements of years ago. While a traditional black suit or dress may still be appropriate for some funerals, you’ll find more variety, more color and more casual selections in the attire at most modern services.

 

When you are determining how to dress, consider where and when the service will be held. Every service is unique and the type of funeral service should help you decide what to wear. For instance, brighter colors and more casual attire might be appropriate for a service on the beach, whereas darker colors and a more conservative selection might be better suited to a traditional church setting.

 

Acceptable funeral attire can definitely vary by geography, culture and faith. A good rule of thumb is to ask someone close to the deceased’s family or the funeral director handling the service about appropriate attire for the event, or even special requests in honor of the deceased. For example, at the funeral of a grandmother whose favorite color was purple, guests were asked to dress in various shades of the hue in tribute to her.

While it is becoming common to see variety in what people wear to funerals, the following guidelines may be helpful if you are unsure what to wear:

Men
Traditionally, appropriate attire for men attending a funeral has been a black, gray or dark blue suit with a collared shirt and tie. These days, however, it is quite acceptable to wear slacks and a blazer or sport coat instead of a suit, to omit the tie, or to opt for a collared golf shirt in place of a dress shirt or button-down. Colors are still usually subdued, but are no longer limited to black, gray and navy. When in doubt, it’s probably safe to choose more conservative options if you are concerned about being underdressed.

Women
Acceptable women’s funeral attire has changed through the years as well. Traditional attire for women called for a black suit, conservative dress or skirt and blouse. These days, appropriate options are much more varied. While the clothing should still be respectful and not distracting from the service, it is acceptable to wear bright or light colors, and business casual separates as opposed to a suit. Dresses are common, with color replacing the traditional solid black.

Children
Children should be dressed in clothing similar to their parents’ attire.

Shoes
If you are attending a graveside service or will be standing for long hours, remember to wear comfortable shoes without a heel.

Need more insight on funeral etiquette? Read our articles on what to say and what to do at a funeral service.

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