In a survey conducted by the National Funeral Director's Association, approximately 55% of respondents had attended a memorial service at a non-traditional location that isn't a cemetery, church, or funeral home. Although traditional funerals are becoming less common as more individuals opt for cremation, many still hold them. Thus, before attending any funeral service, you'll want to consider the dress code. Doing so will ensure you give the family of the deceased your condolences with the utmost respect and dignity.
In this article, we will review traditional funeral attire and some appropriate outfit ideas for a modern celebration of life. Keep reading if you want to know more about what to wear to a funeral.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Attire
Before you decide on the best funeral attire, you'll need to consider a few factors that may influence your decision about what to wear.
First, what kind of funeral will you be attending? If it's in a church, the general rule of thumb is to wear black. Moreover, women may need to cover up their shoulders with scarves, avoid spaghetti straps, and wear knee-length dresses. Other venues may be more lenient, but it's best to stick to formal attire in traditional services.
Second, consider the weather. If you'll be outside for a considerable amount of time, such as at a graveside service, the weather is a significant factor in determining what to wear.
Plan on black outerwear, such as a long wool coat, that keeps you warm and dry. In case of rain, bring a dark umbrella, but never wear a hood or hat during a funeral.
Another thing to think about is the religion and culture of the deceased and their immediate family. Not all cultures or religions wear black to funerals, and some have different funeral etiquette than you may be accustomed to. In these cases, ask a family member what you should wear. The last thing you want to do is offend a grieving family.
Finally, you'll want to consider the requests of the deceased individual. They may have planned their funeral and left instructions on how they wanted people to dress or celebrate their life. If this is the case, their loved ones should let you and the other mourners know.
What to Wear to a Funeral
Now you have a better idea of how to choose a funeral outfit and can use your judgment to decide what to wear. Let's look at a few examples of appropriate funeral dress.
A Dark Suit
Funerals at churches, funeral homes, or cemeteries call for formal attire. Anything less may seem disrespectful to the family members and mourners.
A dark suit is a good choice if you want to be as respectful and formal as possible. It can be dark blue or grey if you don't have a black suit.
That being said, tuxedos, although black, are not appropriate. You should dress as if you were going to a job interview — not too flashy, but formal and professional.
Traditionally, men should wear white dress shirts with their funeral attire, but their ties can be any color. It's best to stick to dark colors (except for red) and avoid bow ties. Moreover, we recommend solid colors instead of ties with striking patterns.
Your dress shoes should be black and have laces. Remember to polish them so they look presentable. Similarly, it's best to iron your suit and dress shirt since wrinkles can make you look unkempt.
If you're attending the funeral with a lady, she should wear a black dress that rests below the knees.
If you don't have a suit and weren't close enough to the deceased to go out and purchase one for the occasion, you may wish to forego the formal funeral. Instead, you could pay your respect at the after-funeral gathering, typically held in a family member's home. However, you'll still need to dress appropriately, so consider the following outfit suggestions.
A Sport Coat Combo
If you're attending a non-traditional or less formal funeral, you don't necessarily need to wear a suit. The same is true for calling hours or viewings. Since these memorial events are usually during the week, they have a more lenient dress code. Still, it's best to pay your respects while wearing appropriate attire.
Instead of a suit, you can opt for a sport coat or blazer. Ideally, it should be dark. Pair it with a button-down shirt in a neutral color, dark dress pants, and a solid tie. As for shoes, it would be best if you stuck to dress shoes with laces or loafers, depending on what you have in your closet.
Ladies don't have to wear black dresses, but it is best to avoid bright colors. Colors like navy blue or charcoal are best.
The Sweater Look
If you're looking for another casual alternative to a suit and tie, you can wear a dress shirt with a dark cardigan or pullover sweater. Pair it with dark slacks and dress shoes.
Be aware that this look is likely unacceptable for religious ceremonies or graveside services. Instead, it's suitable for visiting with family members or calling hours at funeral homes.
Casual Dress Code
Some modern funerals are meant to be joyous celebrations of life rather than sad events. That means that black clothing isn't usually required.
Often, this type of gathering has a more casual dress code, but that doesn't mean you should show up in your everyday attire. For example, you should avoid flip-flops, t-shirts, and baseball caps.
It's best to opt for a collared shirt, such as a polo or long-sleeved shirt with buttons. Short-sleeved shirts would be appropriate in warmer months, but make sure they aren't overly casual and have a collar.
Pair your collared shirt with a pair of dress pants or khakis, such as chinos. You should also avoid tennis shoes, even if they are dressy styles. Instead, opt for a nice leather lace-up or loafer (similar to what you would wear to a business meeting).
For women, the casual dress code means wearing a sundress, pantsuit, or a blouse with a skirt or pair of slacks. Avoid revealing clothing that may detract attention from the occasion.
Dress Appropriately with PRIME Neckwear
If you're attending a funeral, respecting the dress code is one of the most important things you can do to contribute to the dignity of the occasion. Although it may take some effort on your part, it is a great way to respect the deceased and their loved ones.
Of course, dress codes vary according to the wishes, culture, and religion of the deceased. But, in general, you can't go wrong if you follow the outfit suggestions we provided in this article.
If you plan on using these tips to help you plan funeral attire, we recommend saving it as you gather everything you need to look presentable.