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What to wear to a funeral

Last updated 9th January 2020

How to choose your funeral outfit

Funeral outfits don’t always follow the traditional ‘black clothes only’ rule these days. A funeral dress code can be anything from formal, to bold and bright.

This can make deciding what to wear difficult. So here are a few tips to help you decide how to dress for a funeral:

  • Get advice. Speak to the deceased’s family and friends about the dress code, or ask others what they’ll be wearing so you can plan accordingly.
  • Consider the type of funeral. If it’s a religious ceremony, the dress code will probably be smart and more sombre. If it’s a celebratory send-off, you could opt for a more casual style and brighter colours.
  • Dress for the weather. Is it a rainy day? Take an umbrella. Cold? Wrap up warm. Hot? Wear thin, cotton layers and take sunglasses.
  • Blend in. A funeral isn’t the time and place to make a fashion statement.
  • If in doubt, dress smart. When you just don’t know what to wear to a funeral, it’s best to wear smart, dark-coloured clothes (the kind you might wear to a job interview).

young woman kneeling beside a grave

Funeral outfits for women

For women’s funeral attire, it’s best to stick to modest clothes and simple accessories.

A smart suit or dress is often a good choice. It doesn’t have to be black, either. Dark colours like navy blue or burgundy also work well.

If you wear a dress or skirt, check the hemline isn’t too short. It’s also worth making sure your top isn’t too low-cut.

To play it safe you could easily stick to plain clothes. Otherwise you could wear a slightly patterned top, such as low-key stripes, floral, checked or polka-dot.

Flat shoes or low heels are a good choice, especially if you’ll be walking to the graveside and standing up for a while.

Your jewellery, hair and makeup should be simple, too. And if you wear a hat, make sure it’s not so big it will block someone’s view.

To recap, here’s a few simple funeral outfit ideas for women:

  • Knee length or long smart darkish-coloured dress with tights
  • Smart style suit with slightly patterned top, blazer and trousers or a skirt
  • Smart-casual linen coloured or patterned shirt with black trousers
  • Plain jumper, trousers and long-trench blazer style coat (winter)

Funeral outfits for men

For men’s funeral attire, your safest bet is a dark suit. Black, navy and grey are all good colours.

This is usually worn with a white shirt, plain tie and smart shoes.

Basically, your funeral clothes are the same as what you’d wear to a job interview.

If you don’t have anything smart in your wardrobe already, you could consider hiring a funeral suit.

For more casual funerals, it’s usually OK to wear a smart jacket over a jumper. Or you could wear loafers, but not trainers.

It’s also OK to wear a hat, as long as it’s not too casual. (Just remember to take it off during the service.)

Even in the summer, men generally still wear trousers and a shirt to a funeral, not shorts. If it’s hot, you could always lose the blazer and wear a light-weight shirt and wear a colour that won’t show sweat patches.

young woman kneeling beside a grave

Funeral outfits for children

For children’s funeral attire, it’s standard for boys to wear a shirt and tie, and for girls to wear a dress.

But make sure to check what’s appropriate for that specific funeral. A good rule of thumb is to dress children in the same style as the adults.

While funerals are generally no longer than an hour, it’s a good idea to make sure your children a comfortable in their funeral outfit.

Also, make sure they can add or remove layers depending on the weather. The last thing you need at a funeral is your children complaining about being too hot or cold.

How to dress for a celebration of life funeral

A celebration of life funeral means the send-off is more light-hearted. There’s often drinking and dancing, so the funeral dress code will be more casual.

If you’re going to a celebratory funeral, it’s best to ask family and friends of the deceased what they’d like you to wear. Especially as some funerals have a theme. For instance, you might be asked to wear a certain colour.

If in doubt, it’s usually fine to wear smart-casual clothes to a celebration of life funeral.

What to wear to a funeral in summer

It’s important to dress for the weather when you go to a funeral.

When the sun’s out and temperatures are high in summer, you might want to pack sunglasses and sun cream if you’re going to be outside for a while.

And dressing in thin layers means you can take clothes off and still look appropriate.

Breathable fabrics will also help to avoid the dreaded sweat patches. Light-weight fabrics include:

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Rayon

Umbrellas are just as useful in summer as they are in winter, too. Take one with you for shade.

What to wear to a funeral in winter

It always helps to layer up properly for a winter funeral. Wear a dark, smart coat (if you have one) and pack a hat, scarf and gloves.

If it’s looks like rain, don’t forget your umbrella. And wear practical shoes that will keep your feet dry and warm.

Men’s smart shoes often have a smooth sole meaning they’re more likely to be slippery on a wet floor. Bear this in mind if it’s been raining.

What not to wear to a funeral

It’s best to avoid clothes that will draw attention to you at a funeral. A send-off is a time to pay your respects, so it’s important to dress appropriately.

Of course, what’s appropriate depends on the type of funeral. Some people might encourage casual clothes and bright colours. But as a general rule, it’s best to avoid:

  • Jeans
  • Flip flops, sandals or trainers
  • Revealing clothes
  • Large hats
  • T-shirts
  • Clothes with branding, writing and logos
  • Baseball caps
  • Showy jewellery

Funeral outfit etiquette: quick tips

We know there can be lots of rules around funeral clothes. So here’s a quick round-up of what you can do to dress appropriately for most send-offs:

  • Wear smart, modest, dark-coloured clothes
  • Keep your hair, makeup and jewellery simple
  • Don’t show too much bare skin
  • Polish your shoes
  • Don’t wear strong perfume or aftershave
  • If it’s a traditional church service, cover your tattoos

But remember – while dressing appropriately is important at a funeral, your presence is what matters most. So don’t worry if you’re wardrobe hasn’t got many funeral-type clothes in it. You can pay your respects, whatever you’re wearing.

For more advice and guides, see our funeral planning tips and tools.

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). 

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, Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

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.