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 think about is what to wear to a funeral. However, dressing correctly at a funeral is imperative as a sign of respect to the deceased and to the loved ones in attendance.

Here’s our guide on proper funeral dress code for men, women and children so you can understand exactly what the most respectful funeral attire is for you and your style.

Stick With Traditional Colours

In many countries such as Thailand or China, 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, however in Western nations such as the UK, Europe and America, black is the traditional colour worn to a funeral. If you find black a little too sombre, then greys and even dark navy blues are also acceptable.

Stay away from any bold or primary colours such as reds, yellows and blues as this may appear disrespectful. Likewise, for ladies, don’t sport any of these colours in the form of a handbag or accessories.

Blend In, Don’t Stand Out

Following on from the point about colours, you need to remember that this event is totally focussed on the person who has died, so rather than wearing any bright colours, you need to blend in with the crowd. The same goes for the style of clothing that you wear, this isn’t the time to make any kind of fashion statement with your clothing or draw any attention to yourself.

This could be in the form of an overly large hat with fancy detailing, or a flashy pair of trousers and shiny belt, or a skirt which is obviously too high, or equally a blouse which is too low and revealing.

The rule of thumb for funeral dress code is to cover up as much skin as possible, especially true if you have tattoos which could make you stand out from the rest of the mourners. Men have it fairly easy when it comes to options of what to wear to a funeral, but funeral dresses for women should be conservative and business-like, covering up the arms, shoulders and thighs.

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 solemn 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 depends 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 and is likely to ruin hair and makeup.

Funeral Attire For Men & Women

Now let’s take a look at some of the actual items of clothing that can be worn as suitable funeral attire for men and women.

Men

  • A smart suit consisting of jacket and trousers
  • A white button-down shirt, collared, with long sleeves
  • A simple black tie, avoiding patterns
  • Shiny black shoes
  • Black leather gloves (optional)
  • Pocket square (optional)
  • Cufflinks (optional)

 

Women

  • A skirt or pant suit in dark colours
  • A down to the knee skirt coupled with a white blouse and jacket
  • Black or navy blue dress that is not revealing
  • Black pumps, low heels or flat shoes
  • Blazer, roll neck jumper or cardigan
  • Black hat with simple detailing (optional)
  • Sunglasses to hide puffy eyes (optional)
  • Shawl to cover arms and shoulders (optional)

For both men and women, keep jewellery and accessories to the minimum. When dressing children for a funeral, the same rules apply, and boys may wish to wear a clean-cut black suit and tie with shoes to match, whereas girls can sport a black or dark coloured dress teamed with flat pumps and a cardigan or shawl.

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 a great sense of humour and requested in their will for everyone to wear a certain bold colour like green or purple, or even Hawaiian shirts!