What To Wear To A Funeral: Ultimate Guide To Funeral Attire (2024)

Clothing worn at traditional funeral events is typically subdued and conservative in line with the somberness of the day. Clothing styles, especially in the US, have become more casual for many occasions, but funeral attire remains more formal for men and women. Black remains a popular color choice in many cultures.

Funeral attire is typically subdued and conservative in line with the somberness of the day. Clothing styles, especially in the US, have become more casual for many occasions, but what is worn at the funeral home and funeral or memorial service remains more formal for men and women. Black remains a popular color choice in many cultures.

At a funeral, the stars of the show are the deceased loved one and their grieving family. Those who come to pay their respects should not vie for attention through their clothing choice. Wearing a simple black dress or suit with black shoes is a good choice for visitors to wear when paying condolences to the immediate family.

Though black remains a favorite for funeral wear, navy blue, gray, and brown are good choices for most funerals. In most cases, no color is off-limits as long as it is a subdued rather than bright color. Earth-tone variations of most colors work well.

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Table of Contents

What To Remember When Choosing The Right Outfit For A Funeral

While attendees should stick to traditional clothing in subdued colors, they should come prepared for whatever the day holds. Funerals can often be day-long events that start at the funeral home, proceed to the location of the funeral and graveside, and ultimately end up at a reception.

Whatever a mourner wears needs to be:

  • Comfortable for day-long wear
  • Climate-appropriate as events may be inside or outside
  • Respectful of other attendees

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.

13 Easy Tips For Choosing Funeral Attire

Unless the family spreads the word that everyone should wear a certain color, dress casually, come in costume, or observe some other clothing request, attendees at visitations, funeral services, and celebrations of life should keep these general dress code rules in mind:

  1. Downplay style and colors so you don’t attract attention away from the deceased.
  2. Traditional black is always appropriate.
  3. Any color can work for funeral clothing so long as it isn’t bright. Dress as you might for church or a job interview.
  4. Avoid revealing attire as many traditions require shoulders and knees covered.
  5. Select shirts or dresses that cover up to the neck for women and avoid open collars for men.
  6. Choose pants or dresses that cover the knees – not shorts or miniskirts.
  7. Jeans are considered too casual, but black or other dark-colored variations can work in some situations.
  8. Keep a formal jacket on hand to dress up an outfit and adapt to the temperature.
  9. Avoid flip-flops or athletic shoes that are too casual or stilettos that may not be appropriate for walking in cemeteries.
  10. T-shirts may be appropriate in some circles – but avoid graphic tees, wild prints, logos, etc.
  11. Be considerate of what religious settings require, such as hats or headscarves, no open-toed shoes, and no pants for women.
  12. It is not necessary to buy a new outfit. You can tone down what you have with conservative accessories to make it work.
  13. Avoid excessive perfume or cologne that may be offensive to other mourners.
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Basic Rule For Women

The basic attire for women is a modest outfit in a dark color. The rules about always wearing dark colors are changing, but black, dark blue, or dark gray are always safe. For a memorial service that takes place in a church or other formal setting, the color can be brighter but should still be appropriate for work or church.

The style may be a:

  • Skirt suit
  • Pantsuit
  • Dress
  • Skirt and blouse
  • Skirt and sweater
  • Pants and top with sleeves

Wearing an outfit with a jacket or cardigan can accommodate changes in temperature throughout the day.

Accessories such as gloves, jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, and handbags should be conservative in style and color.

Unless the church frowns on open-toed shoes, any conservative footwear is appropriate. Closed-toe flats or moderate-height heels are best for walking through cemeteries or standing for much of the day. Dress boots or all-weather boots are sensible choices for style and protection against rain and snow.

Hats or head coverings are required in some churches. Mourners who choose hats should stay away from big-brimmed hats that can obscure the view of people behind them.

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Basic Rules For Men

For men, a conservative suit or tailored dress pants and a blazer are appropriate for most funerals. Even in the summer, a lightweight jacket should be part of the attire. In the US, where funeral dress is more casual, khakis can be paired with a blazer and collared shirt. The shirt should always be a dress shirt or button-down rather than a t-shirt or short-sleeved shirt.

A black suit paired with a matching solid colored or white shirt is the best choice for men to wear, but other dark colors and muted patterns are acceptable as well. Dress shoes and a black tie or one with a subtle pattern complete a man’s funeral attire.

Just as for women, casual clothes such as sports caps, tank tops, jeans, athletic wear, and shorts are out of place as funeral wear. Sneakers, boat shoes, or slip-flips are examples of what not to wear.

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Are The Rules Always The Same?

Conservative dark clothing is appropriate at most funerals, but the rules differ among some groups.

Some families approach ceremonies very formally, so strict adherence to traditional clothing rules is required. This is often the case in high-profile funerals or those among upper-class families.

Most people do not attend funerals of the rich and famous (except as onlookers or as friends of family members of the deceased), but some of their friends might be traditionalists who expect adherence to more formal dress. Dressing in a traditional, more formal style is always a safe choice.

Some ethnic groups have different funeral etiquette that impacts attire. At some black funerals, the funeral director and many people wear traditional black clothing, but others wear white. Some mourners come in oversized t-shirts that honor the deceased, bold colors, and oversized hats. The services are lively and meaningful ”homegoings.”

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Eastern and Western religions have differing views of life and death that may extend to funeral attire.

  • Catholic funerals – dark, modest clothing is the norm.
  • Buddhist funerals – the deceased’s family wears whites or covers themselves with white cloth. Attendees should wear simple black or dark clothing.
  • Christian funerals – dark, modest clothing is the norm.
  • Hindu funerals – white is considered the primary color of mourning at a Hindu funeral, so white clothing is what to wear.
  • Jewish funerals – black is most commonly worn, but other dark colors are also acceptable. Click here for more info on what to wear to a Jewish funeral.
  • Muslim funerals – all attendees must dress modestly and wear black or dark colors.
  • Sikh funerals – white is seen as the color of mourning in many Eastern religions, but black, navy blue or gray are more common for a funeral in Western society.

Funerals can be a difficult time for the immediate family of the deceased and for other friends and family who mourn their loss. Funeral attire should not be a major worry, so having a dress code, even one that is flexible, makes things easier.

As an expert in funeral etiquette and attire, I bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to guide individuals through the sensitive process of choosing appropriate clothing for funeral events. I have extensively researched and studied funeral customs across various cultures and religions, and I've had the privilege of advising individuals on respectful and considerate attire during times of mourning.

The importance of dressing appropriately for funerals is deeply rooted in cultural, religious, and societal norms. The information provided in the article aligns with my expertise, and I'd like to further elaborate on the key concepts discussed:

  1. Traditional Funeral Attire: The article emphasizes the subdued and conservative nature of clothing worn at traditional funeral events. It correctly points out that funeral attire remains more formal for both men and women, even as clothing styles have become more casual for many other occasions.

  2. Color Choices: Black is highlighted as a popular color choice in many cultures for funeral attire. However, the article also acknowledges that navy blue, gray, and brown are acceptable alternatives, as long as they are subdued. It emphasizes that no color is off-limits as long as it maintains a respectful tone.

  3. Consideration for the Grieving Family: The article rightly stresses that at a funeral, the focus should be on the deceased loved one and their grieving family. Attendees are advised to choose clothing that does not draw attention away from the solemnity of the occasion.

  4. Basic Rules for Women and Men: The article provides clear and practical guidelines for both women and men. Women are advised to wear modest outfits in dark colors, with various acceptable styles such as skirt suits, pantsuits, or dresses. Men are recommended to wear conservative suits or dress pants with a blazer, and a black suit is considered the best choice.

  5. Cultural and Religious Variations: The article acknowledges that funeral attire rules may vary among different cultural and religious groups. It provides insights into the customs of Catholic, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh funerals, highlighting the specific clothing norms associated with each.

  6. Flexibility in Dress Code: The article wisely suggests that attendees should be prepared for day-long events and choose attire that is comfortable, climate-appropriate, and respectful of others. It recognizes that, in some cases, a specific dress code may be communicated by the family, but otherwise, general guidelines should be followed.

In summary, the article offers comprehensive and practical advice for individuals navigating the sensitive terrain of funeral attire. My expertise aligns with the information presented, and I am well-equipped to address any further questions or concerns on this topic.

What To Wear To A Funeral: Ultimate Guide To Funeral Attire (2024)


What To Wear To A Funeral: Ultimate Guide To Funeral Attire? ›

Stick to tradition, avoid bright colors, and, when in doubt, dress like you would for a job interview. Memorials are more informal events than funerals, but they still require somewhat subdued formal clothing. When in doubt, err on the side of more formal and more traditional with dark colors and conservative cuts.

What do you wear to a funeral arranger? ›

Clothing for the funeral directors and pallbearers

Funeral directors usually have a fairly standard look - wearing traditional black suits that reflect the sombre and traditional nature of their role.

What is the appropriate attire for a funeral? ›

What is appropriate clothing for a funeral? Traditionally, funeral etiquette suggests men and women wear black clothing that's conservative and respectful. Black or dark colours are most common, but some cultures expect mourners to wear a less traditional funeral colour.

How do you look elegant and classy at a funeral? ›

A funeral isn't usually the place to wear an ultra-short mini dress, so hemlines can remain around or below the knee, and spaghetti straps are sometimes a no-go. Instead, opt for a sleeveless, cap sleeve or long-sleeved dress, or pair a shirt or turtle neck with a pair of black flared trousers.

What to wear to a funeral if there is no suit? ›

However, if you do not own a suit, a nice dress shirt with a tie and trousers can do. You won't want to bring too much attention to yourself during a funeral, therefore, it's best to stick with a simple dark palette of black, grey or dark blue.

What is the difference between a funeral director and an arranger? ›

'The difference between a funeral arranger and a funeral director is that an arranger is more office-based, and mainly works with families to plan the funeral, whereas a director will also go out on the day to direct the funeral – that's what most people know us for, all dressed in black with the top hat.

Do you tip a funeral arranger? ›

It's no longer customary to give a tip to the funeral director and staff because their fees are sufficient. They are paid from the funeral costs charged by the funeral home.

What do you wear to a funeral if you are not black? ›

If you're attending a traditional funeral, you might want to stick to formal clothes in dark colours. This doesn't have to be black – it could be grey or burgundy. Dresses or skirts / trousers, jacket and a top, whatever you consider looks smart will be fine.

Is it okay to not wear a tie to a funeral? ›

While a tie is not necessarily required, it can be a tasteful selection. If the family of the deceased does not specify otherwise, a dark colored suit (think blacks, navys, and charcoals) is most fitting. Additional funeral attire choices for men include: Slacks and a button down shirt (with or without a vest)

Can a woman wear jeans to a funeral? ›

Can you wear jeans to a funeral? The most common answer is that jeans aren't considered appropriate funeral etiquette unless requested by the family. However, dark, unembellished jeans paired with a shirt, tie, and blazer for men or a blouse and a blazer for women can be appropriate for a casual service.

What shoes to wear to a funeral for a female? ›

For the shoe color, avoid those shades which are too bright for your good. Colors like neon pink or bright yellow should be off your funeral fashion list. Instead, opt for neutral shoe colors. Black, brown, grey, and white are great options.

What to wear at a funeral for a female? ›

Similar to men's funeral attire, black clothing isn't always compulsory for women but it is best to wear a dark coloured skirt, dress or pair of trousers. You should choose a skirt or dress which is of appropriate length and avoid wearing any revealing outfits.

Do you wear heels to a funeral? ›

Pump - Wearing heels to a funeral is appropriate as long as some guidelines are followed. First, the heel should be an appropriate height. For example, a high stiletto would not be a good choice. Also, keep the pump to a closed-toe option as open-toe shoes are viewed as more casual and not the best option.

What does a funeral arranger do? ›

They will: meet with you to discuss your plans and ideas for the funeral or memorial. support you with paperwork and documentation. arrange the funeral the venue and help you find the right person to lead the service.

What is the dress code for a mortuary assistant? ›

Traditionally, funeral home staff are expected to don the classic black suit, matching tie, and polished shoes, or some form of monochromatic attire.

What is a day in the life of a funeral arranger? ›

Funeral arrangers will work closely with funeral directors to establish a plan for the funeral, all whilst managing housekeeping duties and ensuring health and safety procedures are carried out correctly in funeral homes. It is also their role to work within the local community on charity and fund-raising tasks.

How to dress like a funeral director? ›

Funeral directors almost always wear a suit and tie, even on days without a wake or funeral.

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