What to wear to a funeral?
As traditions and fashion changes the question of ‘What do I wear to a funeral?’ is something we ask over and over again, there is so much pressure on wearing the right outfit to look both respectable and fashionable.
Other questions that enter the mix when thinking about what you are going to wear to a funeral are questions like, is there a theme such as a football team strip? A specific colour? an animal or print such as butterflies or floral shirts if it was the wish of the deceased that everyone was to wear. All things we need to consider when choosing the perfect outfit to wear.
Expectations can vary from funeral to funeral, depending on how the deceased and their family lived their life could indicate a certain expectation to the type of clothes you wear. If the deceased was a very formal person then matching their style would show respect, for example if you are a 20-30 year old man attending the funeral of your 95 year old Grandmother and she was always perfectly dressed in her Sunday best then wearing a suit would be appropriate. Another example, if you are a 40-50 year old female and a friend of the same age passed away and her favourite colour was purple, a smart/casual outfit with a purple cardigan or blouse would be appropriate.
This guide is ideal for a western funeral, other cultures may differ in their style, traditions, and beliefs. And it is a guide, please use your own personal knowledge to make these tips fit your requirements.
Black is and has been the traditional colour to wear to a funeral since Queen Victoria made is fashionable in 1861 when she was mourning the loss of Prince Albert, before this black clothes wasn’t associated with death or funerals although it was gaining popularity with the upper classes in the 19th century.
As times move forward it is generally thought that all dark colours are acceptable such as grey, dark blue, etc, as long as it isn’t bright, unless this has been asked for by the family of the deceased.
Generally formal dress is the most appropriate clothing, for men this means shirt and trousers and preferably a tie or at least no open collar. For women, a dress that covers up to the neck and covers the knees and for both sexes smart shoes/heels but keep them simple as you don’t want to draw attention on a day that isn’t about you.
The clothes you should choose will also vary from season to season, use the above guide and adapt it to the weather. For the wet and cold months of winter you will want to wear a plain black coat, something simple but elegant such as an overcoat or mac. For the summer months you will not want to wear something heavy and warm so a smart shirt, blouse or dress would be perfect and take a light smart jacket such as a blazer in case you feel you need to smarten up your outfit.
Non-Traditional Funeral Services
If the funeral service isn’t the traditional crematorium or cemetery service then take this into account when choosing your outfit, if the service is a ‘celebration of life’ or the burial is taking place at a natural burial ground then your outfit will need to reflect this.
This is a new style of burial within England, it is a more peaceful and calm style of burial with the cemetery being either a woodland or meadow so you will need to take this into account when choosing a suitable outfit.
One item you will need to really think about is shoes, as there are no man-made paths it can often be muddy or uneven ground so a suitable flat shoe would be more appropriate.
The family will have chosen a natural or green burial because it is the wishes of the deceased or family, to coordinate an outfit that is fitting for this style of funeral is easier than you may think. The style of clothes would be similar to the above, instead of formal suits you should wear loser fitting smart clothes and the use of colours can be introduced as long as they aren’t garishly in your face. An example would be a floaty blue or yellow dress that covers the shoulders for women, and blue chinos for men coupled with a smart shirt with the top button open. Shoes, for women I would recommend flat pumps with maybe a little heel but not a heel that ends at a point as you will be walking on grass, and for men I would recommend a loafer or smart shoe. Both options are a smart/casual outfit which would fit a funeral service held a natural burial ground.
If you are still unsure on what to wear to a funeral, the best advice we would give is to either ask the family or the funeral director to assist you.