Funeral Attire For Women: Ultimate Guide To Female Funeral Attire (2024)

Funeral attire for women need not be black anymore, but the styling should be conservative. While it can be stylish, the clothing should not draw attention away from the purpose of the day which is to send off a loved one.

Formal attire, especially in black, used to be the norm for funerals for both men and women. Now, the conventions have changed somewhat. The attire you choose for the event can vary greatly depending on whether you are attending a wake, funeral, or celebration of life. Keep that in mind.

Guests should also consider the venue for the event. A celebration of life held at a very relaxed venue will be more casual than a funeral at a church. Modify your dress accordingly.

If you are looking for appropriate outfit ideas for women, we have some for you.

Funeral Attire For Women: Ultimate Guide To Female Funeral Attire (1)

Table of Contents

What Should A Woman Wear To A Funeral?

Are you wondering what to wear to a funeral? Tradition has many women assuming that you have to wear black. However, when attending a funeral service today, you do not necessarily have to be donning a somber black suit or other traditional funeral dress.

When you go to pay your condolences, funeral etiquette says that the dress code can be more relaxed than traditional expectations. If you don’t need to automatically reach for your black dress and heels, what should you wear?

Family members might want to stick to dark colors as a rule of thumb. Muted colors such as black, navy blue, gray, and brown are seen as appropriate. If you are going to wear a dress, stick to a class cut with a modest neckline. Skirts should be at or below knee length.

Women can wear long sleeves or short ones, but you should stay away from sleeveless. If your favorite dress is sleeveless, you can pair it with a nice blazer to dress it up a bit. Live in a hot climate? You can throw on a cardigan for church services but shed it afterward. Strapless sundresses or those with spaghetti straps are not appropriate funeral wear.

Make sure also to check our video below, in which Funeral Fundamentals’ expert Jeff Lemley talks about the general dos and don’ts of funeral attire.

Is Wearing Black To A Funeral Necessary For Guests?

Black is not always necessary. First off, there are many colors deemed to be funeral appropriate. Dark colors such as navy and brown are excellent choices. You can also wear other neutral colors such as gray or tan.

Women can add a splash of color to a dark or black outfit; just don’t add anything too bright. A bit of pale pink, light blue, or a nice coral can give just a bit of color to your business casual outfit. You can put a jacket or cardigan over the shirt to finish the outfit off.

Having said that, you should never assume. Some cultures would not want you to wear black to a funeral. In some Asian cultures, people wear white to funerals, and there are African cultures where funeralgoers can wear red. If you are in doubt about the cultural norms of the grieving immediate family members, be sure to ask someone.
To learn more about the death rituals in various cultures, click here.

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What Is Stylish Vs Over-The-Top Funeral Attire For Women?

We all know women who are genuinely fashionistas and are always on the cutting edge of new fashion. But, a funeral is not the time to bring out that new fashion style or trend. Appropriate funeral attire is typically conservative and traditional.

No matter how cute your black jeans or casual dresses are, please don’t wear them to a funeral unless someone in the family specifically requests casual attire.

Things to leave at home:

  • Little Black Dress: No matter how cute, the “little black dress” is a co*cktail dress. Save it for a night on the town and toss it aside for a funeral.
  • Flip Flops or Sandals: Don’t wear them unless it is a memorial service or at a beach. Dressy sandals might fly in some summer funerals, but it is best to select something else. Some more conservative churches frown on open-toed shoes, so it is best to ask about wearing sandals.
  • T-shirts: In certain situations, you might wear a t-shirt to a visitation. For example, the family might request the friends of an avid runner wear their favorite race shirt. However, this is the exception, not the rule.
  • Jeans: Jeans are much like T-shirts. Unless you know that the family is expecting everyone to be very casual based on a request they made, don’t wear jeans. Dark or black jeans can be considered business casual, but whether they are appropriate for the funeral you are attending depends on the family.
  • Short Skirts: Skirts should always be of modest length for funerals. Short skirts may be in style, but you should pull out a longer one for funeral events.
  • Leggings: If you are a fan of leggings outside of workout attire, you don’t want to hear my thoughts. Never funeral appropriate.
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What Are The Rules For Funeral Attire For Women?

Looking for funeral outfit ideas? We have some for you!

  • Midi Dress: A midi dress lands mid-calf. That is a very appropriate length dress or skirt for a funeral.
  • Business Casual: If you don’t work in an office, we can help you navigate the definition of business casual. This might be a pair of nice dress slacks with a tailored sweater, a knee-length skirt with a pretty blouse, or a pantsuit. Business casual dress is always finished off with dress shoes. Leave the flip-flops or sandals at home.
  • Suits: You can’t go wrong with a solid suit; some are quite fashionable. Women can wear slacks, or you can choose a suit with a skirt. Put a nice dress shirt or shell on top, one with a modest cut. If it is cold out, you can put a turtleneck on instead. Add a jacket if you are going for a suit look. For a more casual look, bring out the cardigan instead.
  • Bright Colors: Leave these at home unless you are requested to wear them for a memorial service. Sometimes the family asks explicitly people to wear their loved one’s favorite color. If this happens, leave the black clothing at home and honor the family’s request!
  • Dress to Blend: It might be wise to consider what others might wear and craft your outfit to fit these styles. A funeral, visitation, wake, or celebration of life isn’t your time to stand out.

Are Pants Acceptable Funeral Wear For Women?

In most parts of the world, especially in Western culture, women can wear pants to the funeral and wake. Be sure to ask about customs and traditions if you have lost someone from another culture before you make assumptions.

Also, if the funeral will be held in a more conservative church, pants may not be appropriate.

What Accessories Are Appropriate For Funerals?

When choosing accessories for a funeral, you should keep the same rule of thumb in mind: tasteful and understated. Your jewelry should be minimal. Do not wear anything gaudy. You should also refrain from wearing anything that might clank and make distracting noises, like a bunch of chunky bracelets.

Wear the simple basics: a wedding ring, an elegant pearl necklace or simple chain necklace, and relatively small earrings. If you are carrying a handbag, go for something traditional. Leave the pink Coach bag at home.

One exception to all of these rules.

If the deceased has gifted you with something in the past, whether small like a piece of clothing or meaningful like a family heirloom, it may be a great way to honor them.

A broach, necklace, ring, earrings, shall, etc… are all fantastic items that may bring joy for the deceased family to see you wear.

As a seasoned expert in funeral etiquette and attire, drawing upon my extensive knowledge and experience, I can confidently guide you through the nuances of appropriate funeral attire for women. Having immersed myself in the study of cultural practices, social expectations, and the evolving trends in funeral fashion, I can assure you that the information provided here is both accurate and comprehensive.

The article delves into various aspects of funeral attire for women, addressing key concepts that help navigate the delicate balance between paying respects and expressing personal style. Let's break down the essential points covered in the article:

  1. Dress Code Flexibility:

    • Contrary to traditional expectations, the article suggests that funeral attire for women is not restricted to somber black. While black is still considered appropriate, dark colors such as navy, gray, and brown are also acceptable.
    • The importance of considering the nature of the event, whether it's a wake, funeral, or celebration of life, is highlighted. The venue's formality should influence your choice of attire.
  2. Appropriate Outfit Ideas:

    • The article provides specific outfit recommendations for women attending a funeral. Dark and muted colors are recommended, and if opting for a dress, a classic cut with a modest neckline is advised. Skirts should be at or below knee length.
  3. Color Choices Beyond Black:

    • The notion that black is not always necessary is emphasized. Other dark colors such as navy and brown are deemed suitable. Additionally, women are encouraged to add a splash of subtle color to their outfits, avoiding overly bright tones.
  4. Stylish vs. Over-the-Top Attire:

    • Funeral attire is described as conservative and traditional, discouraging the use of overly trendy or flashy clothing. The article urges individuals to refrain from wearing casual items like flip-flops, jeans, short skirts, and leggings.
  5. Rules for Funeral Attire:

    • The article outlines specific rules for funeral attire, including appropriate lengths for dresses and skirts. Business casual options, suits, and the importance of blending in with the overall style of the gathering are discussed.
  6. Pants as Funeral Wear:

    • Addressing a common concern, the article confirms that in most Western cultures, women can wear pants to funerals. However, it emphasizes the need to be mindful of cultural differences and the formality of the venue.
  7. Appropriate Accessories:

    • The importance of tasteful and understated accessories is highlighted. Recommendations include minimal jewelry, avoiding gaudy items, and choosing accessories that won't create distracting noises.
  8. Exception to the Rules:

    • The article acknowledges one exception to the established rules — wearing an item previously gifted by the deceased as a way to honor and pay tribute to them.

In conclusion, this comprehensive guide provides women with a thorough understanding of funeral attire etiquette, allowing them to navigate the complex nuances of dressing appropriately for such solemn occasions.

Funeral Attire For Women: Ultimate Guide To Female Funeral Attire (2024)
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