What to wear to a funeral: Full Guide

Whether you are attending the funeral of a close family member, a friend or a work colleague, emotions are running high and the last thing you want to stress about is what to wear to a funeral. However, dressing correctly at a funeral is important and is seen as a sign of respect to the deceased and to the loved ones in attendance.

Our guide on appropriate funeral dress codes will outline exactly what the most respectful funeral attire is for you, to put your mind at ease.

Look at Traditional Colours

In many Western cultures such as the UK and Europe, the traditional funeral attire is typically black. However, if you find black a little too sombre, then greys and even dark navy blues are also acceptable.

It is important to note that other cultures hold opposing views to the black attire. In some cultures, the colour of funeral attire can often be white or something colourful, as the moment is seen as a celebration of the person’s life.

It is also not unheard of for the family to request for you to wear colour and even specify over a colour in which meant something to the deceased. It is respectful to consider the wishes and values of the family of the bereaved and honour them in your choice of clothing.

Avoid Standing Out

It is important to remember that this event is focussed on the person who has died, so rather than wearing an outfit to impress and stand out, it is respectful and expected of you to dress for the occasion. This is not the time to make any kind of fashion statement with your clothing or style choices.

You should avoid any statement pieces, such as an eccentric hat with bold detailing, or a shirt in which is unbuttoned unnecessarily, or equally a skirt which is too high.

The rule of thumb for funeral dress code is to cover up an appropriate amount of skin. Suits should appear crease free, dresses should be conservative and ideally knee length.

Consider The Location and Season

Sometimes funerals may be an affair where ashes are scattered on a beach or in a meadow, and as such you may want to match your outfit accordingly and make it slightly more casual, but still respectful. Most funerals take place at a crematorium or church where the funeral attire is much more conservative, so keep in mind that you need to be suited and booted in accordance with the occasion.

Whilst you should make the most of dressing up to suit the weather, remember you don’t want to be too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. What to wear to a funeral in the summer depaends on your own personal style and available wardrobe items. Summer funerals can be attended with a lighter jacket for men with a thin shirt, or a shawl for women to cover up the shoulders and arms on a dress.

Winter funerals can be attended with a large overcoat or trench coat in darker colours for both men and women, and you can even wear a pair of classic black leather gloves to keep your hands warm. Don’t forget to bring an umbrella as the weather in the UK is unpredictable.

Funeral Attire Examples

Now let’s take a look at some of the actual items of clothing that are seen as suitable funeral attire ...

  • A smart suit consisting of jacket and trousers
  • A skirt or pant suit in dark colours
  • A white button-down shirt, collared, with long sleeves
  • A down to the knee skirt coupled with a white blouse and jacket
  • A simple black tie, avoiding patterns
  • Black or navy blue dress that is not revealing
  • Blazer, roll neck jumper or cardigan
  • Shiny black shoes, black pumps, low heels or flat shoes
  • Accessories such as black leather gloves, a pocket square, Cufflinks, Black hat (simple detailing), sunglasses or a shawl are appropriate for the occasion.

Keep jewellery and accessories to the minimum. When dressing children for a funeral, the same rules apply, a clean-cut black suit and tie with shoes to match, or a black or dark coloured dress teamed with flat pumps and a cardigan or shawl, are both acceptable options.

Of course, there are exceptions to the above rules if you are attending a military funeral, or the increasingly common life celebration events where colours are sometimes requested. Then there’s always the case that the deceased had put forward a request in their will for everyone to wear a certain bold colour like green or purple, or even Hawaiian shirts!

We believe each and every funeral is unique to the bereaved. No two funerals are the same, therefore there is no set rule for exactly what you should wear to a funeral. The best piece of advice we can part to you, would be to follow the requests and wishes of the bereaved and their family. If you have not been instructed on what to wear, then we would encourage you to follow this guide.