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What to wear to a funeral

Funeral dress etiquette — what to wear at a funeral

Traditional funeral dress is dark, sober and understated with black being the most obvious choice of colour to wear. However, times are changing. As funeral arrangements become more personal, so has the choice of what to wear to a funeral. More and more frequently, there are requests for funeral goers to wear colour or avoid black as a way of honouring the deceased and celebrating the life they led.

So, what do you wear to a funeral today? Do you have to wear black to a funeral? This simple guide to traditional and modern funerals will answer these questions for you and gives you some useful tips for the day itself.

What to wear to a funeral: women

A smart suit or black dress may be the easiest choice, but if you don’t have anything like that in your wardrobe, don’t worry. A smart pair of trousers or skirt and a neat jumper will also work well. And it doesn’t have to be black, why not opt for another dark colour like navy, burgundy, grey or dark green.

Do bear in mind the cut of your clothing. A funeral isn’t the place to stand out, so choose something that isn’t too revealing. And if you want to wear a hat, try to make sure it won’t block the view of anyone sitting behind you.

Female at a funeral in black coat

What to wear to a funeral: men

Men can’t go far wrong with a dark suit, plain white shirt and a plain tie. A grey or dark blue business suit is great, but if you don’t have one, some men’s outfitters offer funeral suit hire.

Alternatively, a smart dark jacket or jumper and trousers will do fine. Feel free to wear a hat just as long as it’s not too casual, just remember to take it off during the service.

Mens black suit jacket and tie suitable for funeral

What to wear to a funeral: children

With children, it’s about finding something that’s both practical and respectful. Anything smart‑casual will work and if you’re really stuck, their school trousers or pinafore dress and a white shirt would be suitable.

Of course, kids won’t always play ball, and a funeral is a tough place for them to be, so if they want to wear grandma’s favourite jumper, then so be it.

A young girl standing in dark blue sailor dress

What to wear to a non‑traditional funeral

For a farewell that’s more a a celebration of life the funeral dress code is often more relaxed and a bit more colourful.

The funeral notice may request no black or for a certain colour to be worn, or you might feel you want to do something a little different from the norm. Use your judgement and knowledge of the deceased and the family to decide what’s right. Something as simple as a coloured scarf or tie might be all that’s needed, but if you feel a bright pink suit fits the occasion, then go for it.

A wooden box of colourful scarfs

What to wear to a summer funeral

Warm weather can make choosing funeral outfits a little more challenging. In general, the same principles apply, but women should ideally keep shoulders covered, especially for a church service.

To save any embarrassment, men should make sure their shirt is presentable, in case they get hot and have to remove their jacket.

Funeral wear — 5 things to remember

  1. Check the weather and take an umbrella as a precaution — there may be a lot of time spent outside, especially if it’s a burial.
  2. Carry a bag or wear something with pockets to keep tissues handy.
  3. Be prepared — take a cough sweet or two in case a coughing fit strikes at an inappropriate moment.
  4. A smart coat over what you’re wearing can instantly dress up a look.
  5. Don’t forget to polish your shoes as a mark of respect — even if it’s the only time you do it, that bit of effort goes a long way.
A line of 3 mens legs in suits with polished shoes

Attending a funeral means more than what you wear

Of course it’s important to try and dress appropriately for a funeral, but always remember that being there is worth much more than the clothes you’re wearing.

So, don’t worry if you have to go straight from work in your uniform, or you’ve not got a suit in the wardrobe, your presence is what matters and will mean the world to the family of the deceased.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, life insurance, pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife? 

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but are registered providers with the Funeral Planning Authority.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

The funeral services are arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd. Golden Charter Ltd are not required to be authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority in relation to funeral plans but are registered providers with the Funeral Planning Authority.

If you choose to pay for your funeral in one go, with a single payment, you will have a contract with Golden Charter. The funeral services will be arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd.

If you choose to pay for your funeral with a life insurance policy, the policy will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife. The funeral services will be arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.