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Not sure what to wear to a funeral? If you haven’t been to many funerals, or you’re going to a funeral from a religion or culture you’re not familiar with, you might have questions. This is completely fine. No two funerals are the same, so choosing funeral attire can be difficult.

Of course, when you’re choosing what to wear to a funeral, it’s important to be respectful and to follow any dress code that the people planning the funeral have requested. But you shouldn’t worry too much about finding the “perfect” funeral outfit. Unless you wear something completely out of the ordinary, most people’s attention will be on the funeral service, not what other people are wearing. If you’re grieving, people will also understand if you aren’t as smart or “put together” as usual.

As Rabbi Ruth Adar says: “showing up is the main thing. If the only way you can get there is in your bunny slippers, show up in bunny slippers.”

What to wear to a funeral – top tips

Whatever type of funeral you’re going to, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you’re going to a funeral and you’re not sure what to wear, it’s fine to ask the family or funeral director. They’ll be able to guide you.
  • The dress code for most funerals is conservative, so if in doubt, avoid wearing short-sleeved tops, shorts or skirts that are above the knee.
  • Most people won’t expect you to buy new clothes for a funeral. It’s fine to do the best with what you already own.  If you don’t own anything black, wearing grey or navy to a funeral will usually be fine.
  • Head coverings are common at many religious funerals. If you’re unsure, take a scarf or small hat with you, so you can put it on if needed.
  • Try not to worry too much about what you wear – the most important thing is to be there to pay your respects.

What to wear to a non-religious funeral

Non-religious funerals can be anything from formal ceremonies to casual, colourful celebrations of life. So it’s a good idea to ask the person organising the funeral whether there are any specific requests. If there is a theme, try to follow it. The family will appreciate you making the effort. If not, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Guests at most funerals in the UK will wear all black. If the funeral you’re attending hasn’t specified a dress code, it’s usually safe to assume that black clothes will be appropriate.
  • Men usually wear a shirt, tie and jacket with matching trousers.
  • Women usually wear a jacket over either trousers, a skirt or a dress.
  • Smart shoes are usually preferred, but you probably won’t be expected to wear a hat or head covering. You may find that some people do choose to wear a black hat or fascinator.

What to wear to a colourful funeral

Colourful funerals are becoming more popular in the UK. If you’re invited to one, you might be asked to wear something bright, a specific colour, or simply to avoid wearing black.

  • Colourful funerals are often less formal than traditional funerals. While you’ll still want to dress smartly, you probably don’t need to wear a suit jacket or a tie.
  • Do your best to wear something bright or close to the colour requested. The family will appreciate you making the effort to join in.
  • If you don’t have any bright clothes in the right colour, you could wear a brightly coloured scarf over darker clothing.
A young woman and her mum pose for a photo on a sunny day
"One lady wore a bright pink dress which was brilliant. All of the pallbearers wore light blue ties because she loved blue."

What to wear to a religious funeral

Religious funeral services sometimes have different dress codes, depending on the beliefs and customs being followed. Below, we’ll look at things you might need to consider for some of the more common religious funerals in the UK. If you’re unsure what’s appropriate, it’s a good idea to ask the person organising the funeral.

Buddhist funeral

Buddhist funerals are characterised by simplicity. Here are a few useful things to know:

  • The family of the person who has died will usually wear white. Other people attending the funeral will wear dark colours.
  • Keep your clothing simple and avoid flashy accessories or bright colours. It’s usual for Buddhists to avoid displays of wealth.
  • You might be asked to remove your shoes, so it’s a good idea to wear ones that are easy to slip off and on.

Christian funeral

Christian funeral wear tends to be quite formal. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Black is the most popular colour to wear at a Christian funeral, although sometimes you might be asked to wear a colour that was important to the person who’s died.
  • Men usually wear a shirt, tie and jacket with matching trousers.
  • Women usually wear a jacket with either trousers, a skirt or a dress.
  • Generally, it’s best to wear formal shoes or boots that match the rest of your funeral outfit.
  • Usually, you won’t be expected to wear a head covering or hat.
  • If you’re wearing a sleeveless top, you’ll probably be asked to cover your shoulders before entering the church. So it’s a good idea to take a scarf, cardigan or jacket with you.

Hindu funeral

The dress code for Hindu funerals tends to be more relaxed than for many other types of funeral. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It’s usual to wear white or other pale colours, as a mark of respect.
  • Avoid wearing black or dark colours.
  • Keep shoulders, arms and legs covered.
  • You might be asked to wear a head covering, so it’s a good idea to take a scarf with you.
  • It’s perfectly fine to wear sandals or other open-toe shoes.
  • It’s fine to wear jewellery. Though as with most funerals, it’s a good idea to avoid wearing anything too bold.

Jewish funeral

Jewish funerals are usually conservative and smart, though the etiquette can be slightly different depending on the specific Jewish tradition followed by the person who’s died.

  • Wear smart, conservative clothing in black or dark colours.
  • Men are expected to wear a head covering known as a kippah or yarmulke. If you don’t have one, you’ll usually be given one to wear at the funeral.
  • Women will sometimes be asked to cover their hair with a scarf.
  • For Orthodox funerals, women are often expected to wear a skirt or dress that reaches below the knee. For other Jewish funerals, it’s usually okay for women to wear trousers.
  • Family members sometimes wear a black ribbon which they’ll continue to wear during the mourning period.

Muslim funeral

Covering up and dressing conservatively is an important part of an Islamic funeral. Though clothing doesn’t usually need to be too formal.

  • Wear long sleeves, a high-necked top, and full-length trousers or a skirt, even in hot weather.
  • Men aren’t expected to wear a tie or jacket to the funeral, as long as you look smart.
  • Try to avoid clothing that’s tightly fitted or transparent.
  • You’ll probably be asked to take off your shoes, so it’s a good idea to wear ones that are easy to slip off and on, and to make sure your socks or tights are clean and smart.
  • It’s usual to be expected to wear a head covering, even if you don’t follow the religion.

Sikh funeral

The dress code for Sikh funerals tends to be simple and smart. Here are a few things to know:

  • It’s traditional to wear smart clothes in white or light colours. Though in the UK, people will sometimes wear dark colours instead.
  • It’s usual to be expected to wear a head covering, even if you don’t follow the religion. If you don’t have one, you may be given one to use at the gurdwara.
  • You’ll be asked to take off your shoes before entering the gurdwara, so try to wear footwear that’s easy to remove.

What should children wear to a funeral?

  • Teenagers should generally follow the same funeral wear advice as adults. If they don’t have a suit, then smart trousers or a skirt and a shirt or blouse is ideal. You may find that their school uniform works well.
  • You don’t really need to worry how to dress younger children, toddlers and babies for a funeral. It’s a good idea to dress them in smarter clothes if possible, but comfort is the most important thing.

What not wear to a funeral

Knowing what to wear for a funeral is important. But it’s equally important to know what you should avoid. The etiquette varies for different types of ceremony, and also depends on specific requests the family have made. But there are a few items it’s usually best to avoid when you choose your funeral clothes:

  • Showy clothing that will make you stand out from the crowd of mourners
  • Revealing clothes (for example, shorts or skirts above the knee and low-cut tops)
  • Very casual clothing such as jeans, trainers or logo t-shirts
  • Casual hats such as baseball caps or beanies
FAQs

Can you wear grey to a funeral?

Yes, it’s usually fine to wear grey to a funeral in the UK. While most people will wear black, most dark and neutral colours are generally considered fine. If you’re going to a religious funeral, or you’re unsure, you can always check with the person who’s planned it.

Do I need to wear a tie at a funeral?

Usually, men will wear a tie at a funeral. But this isn’t essential. As long as you’re dressed smartly, you should be fine. 

Should I wear a hat to a funeral?

You can wear a hat to a funeral if you wish. There are lots of black funeral hats that you can choose from. Or you might want to wear a fascinator. Just be mindful of the size of the hat. You might want to take it off when you get inside the venue to avoid blocking the view for anyone behind you. 

What do men wear to a funeral?

If you’re not sure what to wear to a funeral, you can always ask the person who’s organised it. But men’s funeral clothes usually include a shirt, tie, trousers, a jacket and smart shoes.

What do women wear to a funeral?

Again, if you’re not sure what to wear to a funeral, it’s usually best to ask. But women will often wear a below-the-knee dress and a jacket or a blouse with a below-the-knee skirt or trousers and a jacket. You might want to wear a funeral fascinator, but this is growing less common. Heels are optional. You might find smart flat shoes more comfortable and better suited if part of the ceremony is going to take place at a graveside.

What should a pallbearer wear to a funeral?

This will depend on the type of funeral and the overall dress code. Traditionally in the UK, pallbearers wear a suit in a black or dark colour. However, less traditional funeral clothing is becoming more popular. So it’s best to ask the family or funeral director what the pallbearer dress code is.

You’ll also want to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes in case you’re walking across uneven ground.

Learn more about pallbearers.

Looking for more info? Learn more in the funeral planning advice hub. Or find a funeral director to help you plan the service you want.