Best Choices for Funeral Attire

Last month we shared the top three things you should NOT do at a funeral. One of those things was not to dress like you’re headed for a night out and to ensure that your clothes are clean and pressed.

Today we will dig a little deeper into what proper funeral attire is and what are the best choices you can make when deciding on your clothes for the day. A funeral is a time to pay your respects, not call attention to yourself.

Generally, an outfit to wear to a funeral should be more conservative, something you might wear to a business meeting, a job interview, or a church or synagogue.
Those attending the service have more options, especially guests, yet the guidelines still require wearing mostly subdued, conservative clothing that is respectful to the event. Clothes should be clean, neat, and well-pressed.

For the Ladies

First, let’s be more specific about what you should wear to a funeral as a female.

Black or dark colors are the best option, especially for the deceased’s immediate family.

Generally, women should wear a dark or black skirt suit or pantsuit; a skirt of appropriate length or pants and a top with sleeves, a blouse, or a sweater; flats or pumps. In some cultures and religions, women wear hats to funerals.

Women should avoid wearing casual, festive, or revealing clothing, flip-flops, sandals, or sneakers.

And the Gentlemen

Most common funeral etiquette practices for men include:

  • A dark suit with a white or plain solid colored shirt and a subdued tie.
  • A dark jacket with dark pants and a collared shirt with a tie and a belt.
  • Dark dress shoes.

Younger men should, at minimum, wear a well-pressed solid-colored shirt, slacks, and dress shoes if possible.

Regarding style, men should avoid wearing jeans, short-sleeved shirts, athletic shoes, and baseball caps.

For Everyone

According to the International Business Protocol and Social Etiquette, colors to avoid would be red, orange, and yellow, bright hues and flowers, and other bold and loud patterns.

This rule of thumb includes children, should you need to bring them with you.

The One-Offs

In some cultures, black clothing is still very traditional and expected. If the service follows a specific religion, there may be additional guidelines for clothing, such as head coverings for both men and women or full-length skirts and tops for women.

Interestingly, there are religions and cultures where black clothing would be inappropriate, such as at a Quaker funeral, where guests should wear white.

If you have questions regarding attire, always ask the family or check with the funeral home to see what is appropriate or expected.