Fashion is not always the top priority when someone you know passes away. However, putting on the wrong funeral attire can be a major concern. Figuring out what to wear to a funeral often comes down to the specifics of the service and the wishes of family members.
What should you wear to a funeral? Funerals are somber occasions, which is why it's important to dress appropriately. Therefore, funeral clothes should be conservative and not draw attention. This makes choosing clothes that you would wear for church or job interviews a safe bet.
Below are some things not to wear to a funeral. If you're getting ready for the services of someone close to you, take note of these tips and make sure that your outfit doesn't offend any family members or other attendees at the service.
Tips on How to Wear Funeral Clothes
Read the Obituary for Clues
Before worrying about what to wear and not wear to a funeral, consider what the family wants. Most families won't specify what to wear, while others will request something specific in the obituary details. These family requests involve a break from the traditional funeral attire.
Some people may want funeral guests to wear bright colors to make it look like a somber affair and more like a celebration of life. Others may suggest the favorite color of the deceased. It can also be a themed request such as superhero shirts to honor a child who has passed away.
If a family requests something specific, make sure you follow those suggestions to give them great comfort during those tough times to see that funeral attendees are honoring those wishes.
Religions have different customs when it comes to funeral attire. If this is a religious service, contact the funeral director to learn what kind of clothing is permissible for those in attendance. For example, in Asian cultures, the family wears white. Red should never be worn because it's considered the color of happiness. Families also don't wear jewels at the funeral service.
For Hindu funerals, the clothing is white, simple, and casual, and for Buddhist funerals, the family wears white while friends wear black. Knowing these cultural differences can help you choose appropriate clothing to avoid against the family's wishes and stand out at the funeral service.
Funeral Attire Colors
Black is the traditional color when it comes to funeral clothing, especially in Western culture. Black is still the safe choice for funerals. However, you're not limited to a dark color. Other dark colors like navy, gray, burgundy, and brown also work well.
When choosing colors, consider the tone of the event because most funerals are somber events, which align well with a darker color. Wearing bright colors can make you look like you're celebrating or you're in a festive mood.
Location of the Service
When planning your outfit, consider the location of the funeral and visitation services. If it’s a church service, wear formal attire and try to be conservative. If it’s held at a casual location, your clothes can match the more laid-back environment.
The weather plays a big role in what you wear at a funeral. During summer, wear lightweight clothing while sticking to the guidelines. Keep clothing with muted colors without flashy designs. You want to stay cool but not wear shorts to a funeral. For men, wear lightweight slacks to stay comfortable and respectful.
To women, wear skirts or dresses to keep cool as long as they're not too short. Your necklines shouldn't dip down too far. Wear something with a sleeve and avoid spaghetti straps and if you wear a sleeveless dress, try to pair it with a lightweight cardigan. Dress pants and a jacket are now acceptable in funerals.
It's okay to wear accessories but keep them to a minimum. Avoid bold jewelry or carrying flashy purses. Consider how noisy your jewelry is because a stack of bracelets and noisy necklaces will be distracting during the funeral. Avoid flip-flops and tennis shoes because they're too casual unless the funeral is a casual event. Women should avoid stilettos and flashy shoes. Dress shoes that can easily take you from a funeral home to a burial site.
The Formal of Funeral Clothes
How formal you go with your funeral dress decisions depends on the preferences of a family member and how formal the overall funeral is. Do not wear casual clothes like athletic wear. Too casual doesn’t show respect for the situation. Jeans are a gray area.
Some families may prefer a more laid-back celebration of life where jeans are acceptable. If you wear jeans, pair them with a nice blouse and a collared shirt.
Clothes to Avoid When Attending a Funeral
Avoid Bright Colors
It's not a time for bright colors and wild prints. Wear something subdued, avoid wearing white and black clothes because they look too formal. In addition to avoiding bright colors, steer clear of shiny fabrics. In many cases, attention-grabbing clothing can be positive, but that shouldn't be the case in a funeral home.
Don't Wear Sexy and Revealing Outfits
Funeral etiquette also dictates that you should avoid overly revealing attires. However, it's not easy to tell where this type of clothing line is since what's considered sexy can vary from one person to another. But if it's too sexy for a professional job interview, it's also sexy for a funeral.
Sexy and revealing clothes you should avoid include very tight pants, high slits in dresses and skirts, sheer fabrics or mesh, very low-cut tops, and blouses, skirts that make it difficult to bend.
Skip the Casual Clothing and Athletic Wear
A funeral is about showing respect to someone who's passed away and not a casual event. Proper funeral attire is similar to what you'd wear to a business event. Some of the casual clothing you shouldn't wear unless it's an exception from memorial services include sneakers, tennis shoes, flip flops, baseball caps, casual hats, yoga pants, tank tops, and t-shirts.
Others include sweatpants, joggers, hoodies, and jeans unless you know others will be wearing them. Wearing jeans could also be acceptable if paired with a collared shirt and a blazer.
Avoid Controversial Shirts and Other Clothing
A funeral isn't a place to reclaim your political and social views, even if the deceased person would agree with you. People at the funeral event are already distressed, so it's not okay to bring up controversial topics at this time. Avoid clothing that might lead to such a situation.
Controversial clothes to avoid at this point include political t-shirts and sweatshirts, caps, and hats with social and political messages. Others include clothing that promotes religion and a specific belief. Avoid shirts with slogans that may upset people.
Avoid Glittery Items
Avoid glittery things such as sequins, flashy metallic fabrics, heavy cologne, and perfume. These elements can be distracting in a funeral event. In terms of footwear, choose a shoe that can easily take you from a funeral home to a place of worship to a burial site where you might be walking in grass or gravel.
Also, there isn’t really a dress code for visitation or calling hours since many people often attend straight from work and maybe wear whatever they had during the day.
FAQs about Things Not to Wear to a Funeral
Can you wear blue to the funeral?
Even though black is the traditional color to wear at a funeral, gray-blues are also great for this occasion.
Do you have to wear black to the funeral?
Black is the most traditional color when it comes to funeral clothing. It symbolizes death or mourning. The tradition of wearing black also dates back even further to the Roman Empire.
Final Thought about Things Not to Wear to a Funeral
You can never go wrong with funeral attire if you follow these guidelines. Dressing for a funeral doesn't mean that you can’t be smart. You can still learn how to iron your clothes properly for the occasion and look your best. Just make sure your clothing doesn't distract from the purpose of a funeral event.