Funeral Etiquette and What to Wear to a Funeral

One of the trickiest pieces of funeral etiquette to navigate is deciding what to wear to a funeral. You might assume that something in your closet is bound to be suitable, only to discover at the last minute that you’re not sure how to put your outfit together. Here are some tips that may help.

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Funeral Attire
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What to Wear to a Funeral
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Funeral Etiquette

Funeral Attire for Women

Black is the obvious color choice, but there are a lot of different ways to wear it. For the hemline of a dress or skirt, mid-calf is the classic choice (below the knee is the minimum). Wear hose or dark colored tights if you’re not sure a bare leg is OK.

The neckline of a funeral dress should be higher than you might usually wear for “special occasions”. Uncovered arms are typically only appropriate at a graveside service in very hot and humid locations. Use a bolero jacket, shawl, scarf, or other accessory to cover up the top of a sleeveless dress if you aren’t sure.

Formal business clothing is also appropriate for women at a funeral. Black slacks, a black blazer, and a solid colored blouse in a neutral hue (white, ivory, gray, black, beige) is a good choice for an outfit.

Deep tones such as chocolate brown, midnight blue, forest green, or dark purple may be acceptable in a pinch; but stay away from reds, pink, yellow, orange, and other bright or cheerful colors. Keep any patterns subtle, such as a black on black brocade rather than a multi-colored floral print.

Black, close toed pumps with a low heel are always fine. Boots may be seasonally appropriate as well. However, flats may be your safest and most sensible choice if there will be a graveside service.

Funeral Clothes Options for Men

If you have a black suit, white shirt, and black tie, funeral etiquette dictates that this is what you should wear. Dark charcoal or navy blue are also appropriate suit colors. Pin stripes or other woven designs in the suit fabric should be subdued. You can also wear the following accessories:

  • A tie in a dark, solid color (rather than one with stripes or other designs.)
  • A pocket square in a solid, dark color
  • Cufflinks and a nice wristwatch
  • Black dress shoes and dark dress socks (not white athletic socks).  Black boots with no ornamentation may also be acceptable.

What if you don’t have a suit in your closet? The following may be the best you can do on short notice:

  • Medium or light blue dress shirt, khaki trousers, solid dark blue tie, brown loafers
  • Navy slacks, white shirt, solid blue or burgundy tie, black shoes

Make sure everything is nicely pressed so your funeral attire looks as respectful as possible.

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Funeral Attire

Recommended funeral attire for women includes:

a black dress or skirt with mid-calf hemline and high neckline, black panty hoes or dark colored tights are suggested to cover a bare leg, and be sure to stay away from reds, pink, yellow, orange, and other bright and cheerful colors. For shoes, black flats are typically your safest and most sensible choice.

 

Recommended funeral attire for men includes:

a black suit with a white shirt and black tie paired with black dress shoes and black socks. If you do not have a dark colored suit, a safe alternative would be to wear dark slacks with a white shirt along with a dark colored tie and black shoes.