How to Dress Appropriately for a Funeral

Gentleman comforting woman at a funeral

Going to a funeral is relatively rare for most of us, and when the time comes, it is stressful enough without being concerned whether the outfit you wear is appropriate.

As a rule, it’s generally best to choose more traditional, conservative attire in regards to how you dress at a funeral. Depending on the culture, you do not have to only wear black. What matters most is that the way you dress shows respect for the person who has passed, and loved ones who are grieving. For a funeral, generally avoid flashy prints, bright colors and sparkly fabrics.

When dressing for a funeral, it’s a good idea to choose clothing you’d wear to a serious, formal business meeting. Your outfit should largely be dictated by the location, climate, and again, culture, of the deceased.

General Do’s And Don’ts for Funeral Apparel

DO: 

  • Keep the location in mind: A memorial service held on the beach, and a memorial service held in a church, will likely indicate different styles of dress.
  • Ask for advice: If you’re acquainted with a friend or family member who may have known the deceased better than you, or has a closer relationship to their family, ask them what they think you should wear.
  • Use common sense: If you know the deceased person preferred formality, consider that it’s likely their funeral will be formal, in keeping with their personality. Keep in mind how you think the deceased would want the atmosphere to be.
  • Dress to blend in: Funerals are about celebrating the life of the deceased. Of course we all like to be well-dressed and feel special, but in this case, it’s important to consider the occasion and expected style. The day is about the person who has passed.
  • Consider the culture: Different cultures have different traditions and preferences regarding apparel at a funeral. For example, some Asian cultures prefer white, while some African cultures opt to wear red and black. If you aren’t familiar with the cultural norms of the deceased, ask a family member for advice, or do careful research.

DON’T:

  • Use this as a time to stand out: Again, funerals are about the deceased. Don’t use the funeral as an opportunity to stand out.
  • Underdress: If you’re not sure whether it’s right to dress casually or formally, ask a friend or family member of the deceased what they think you should wear.
  • Stress about how you’re dressed: Since this time is to honor the deceased, it’s unlikely your attire will be of concern or notice. A simple choice is likely perfect for the occasion.

Regardless of gender, if you follow the idea of dressing like the funeral is a business meeting, you’ll be ready to appropriately attend the funeral. But there are a few things that women and men, respectively, should keep in mind.

Gender-Specific Do’s And Don’ts for Funerals

Tips for Women 

  • Unless noted otherwise, avoid jeans as they’re often considered too casual.
  • Wear a hat, depending on the culture. It’s important to do your research beforehand.
  • Wearing a dark suit with pants or a skirt in a dark, solid color is always a safe choice. Do not wear black unless the specific culture calls for it.
  • Normally, a mid-length skirt with a sweater or blouse will suffice.

Tips for Men 

Wear a suit with a dress shirt and tie, or a sport coat with slacks. While black isn’t the only option, any dark colors are the best choice when attending a funeral.

  • You can wear casual shoes, but always try to avoid sneakers and other athletic shoes. Sandals and flip flops are also likely inappropriate.
  • Avoid jeans unless specifically noted, and short sleeved shirts. Baseball caps and other casual hats are almost never appropriate for funerals.

Chances are you already have something in the closet that is perfectly appropriate for the occasion. Here at Neptune Society, we know funerals can be stressful and heartbreaking. That’s why we aim to keep our blog helpful and easy to read. Keep an eye on the Neptune Society blog for more tips regarding funerals, burial, cremation, and more.