Preparing to attend a funeral – and bid farewell to a friend or family member – can be an emotional time. Don’t make things harder for yourself by wondering what to wear with our five-point guide to appropriate attire.
Think about the location
When deciding on your funeral outfit, think about where the ceremony is being held. For example, a memorial service at a place of worship or crematorium might demand smarter clothes than an outdoor location. In addition, think about the time of year. You’ll need a warm, smart jacket in winter and a dark-coloured umbrella if rain is forecast. In summer, lighter clothing is fine, but outfits should be respectable and never too revealing. You might want to take a scarf to cover your shoulders if the ceremony is being held in a church.
Adhere to the colour code
Most people reach for dark colours and formal attire when selecting funeral clothes. This means a black, dark grey or even navy blue suit for men, which is worn with a plain tie – most commonly black – and a clean white shirt. For women, a smart dress, skirt and blouse or tailored suit in sombre shades is appropriate. In addition to black, dark grey or navy blue, the possible of colours could also include dark green or burgundy.
Remember, it’s ok to ask questions
Your invitation might specify a dress code, but if in doubt it’s ok to ask. The deceased or their family might want to inject a splash of colour into the proceedings and therefore ask guests to wear something bright and bold instead of the traditional muted tones. The same goes for enquiring about any cultural considerations. While most Western countries adhere to black as a sign of mourning, in many Asian countries – including Japan and India – it’s traditional to wear white to funeral ceremony.
Don’t forget footwear and accessories
Shoes or boots should be clean and freshly polished. Women might want to consider wearing flat pumps or shoes with a small heel if the funeral location means you will be standing on grass for a long period of time. In addition, it’s custom for women to wear a hat if they want too. As with the rest of your outfit, the aim should be to look smart, rather than make a statement. Avoid wearing anything that might obstruct someone else’s view.
What about children and teenagers?
For teenagers, the funeral outfit advice for adults is also applicable. If they do not have a suit, then dark-coloured trousers (even their school trousers) and a freshly ironed shirt paired with a tie is ideal. Younger children, toddlers and babies should be smartly presented, but there isn’t the same emphasis on wearing black or dark colours.
And, if you are part of the ceremony – for example, if you are one of the pallbearers – the family of the deceased might have a specific request for your funeral attire so that you look consistent with the rest of the pallbearers.
It’s also worth paying particular attention to your funeral clothes if you are giving a reading. Look for an outfit that’s smart, but also something that you feel comfortable and confident wearing.
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