Last updated 26th April 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Carry a bag or wear something with pockets to keep tissues handy.
- Be prepared — take a cough sweet or two in case a coughing fit strikes at an inappropriate moment.
- A smart coat over what you’re wearing can instantly dress up a look.
- 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.
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.