What To Wear To A Funeral

Whether you are attending a funeral as a close family member or friend, or as an acquaintance, it is important to show respect to the deceased and their family by dressing appropriately. Keep in mind that funerals are typically sombre occasions, so avoid wearing anything that is too casual or flashy.

Showing respect with your outfit

Funerals can be a tricky time to navigate, but one thing is certain: it is important to respect the deceased and their family in this moment of mourning by dressing appropriately. It's usually accepted that dark colours are the norm, though you should check with the family first.

Respectful styling such as trousers or skirts for women and collared shirts for men can signify your intention to pay your respect and show empathy in a tough situation. Ultimately, opting for clothing which marks this sombre occasion as special helps make it easier for other attendees of the funeral too.

What colours should you wear – and avoid?

Funerals are a time to pay tribute to and honour our loved ones who have passed. As such, it is best to dress in dark, muted tones so that your clothing doesn't draw attention away from the focus of the event.

Even if you are a generally bright and colourful person, funerals should be the one exception where you leave those traits out of your attire. Your wardrobe should be respectful and dignified; nothing too bold or otherwise out of place.

Symbols or logos on clothing should also be avoided. With this approach, your attire will show sensitivity to others in attendance who are already grieving.

Do I have to stick to black?

Wearing black clothing at a funeral is still considered respectful, but there is some flexibility when it comes to this rule. While black remains a traditional colour to be worn in mourning and remembrance, shades of blue or brown can also make a meaningful statement.

You don't have to feel restricted by the colour alone – let the fabric choice be an expression of your individual style and personality as you come together with your community in grief. Whether suits, dresses, or just something from your closet, expressing sorrow need not be limited to one hue.

Also, many modern funerals are doing away with the dark colour scheme and encouraging brightness and colour from the attendees. This is often the case when the funeral is being treated as a celebration of life rather than mourning the passing.

Check the invitation to see if a colourful or bright dress code has been indicated. In this case, you should get into the spirit and wear your loudest and brightest clothing in support of the family.

What should I wear?

When it comes to dressing for the office or a formal occasion, there are certain staples that both men and women should consider wearing: a collared shirt and tie for men, and a dress or skirt for women.

While these may not be the most cutting-edge choices in fashion, they will always be professional, appropriate and put-together looks that are sure to make an impression. You’re not dressing for a night out or to impress your friends, you are dressing to show your respects.

However, if you want to get creative and increase your style factor without compromising formality, you can take these items up a notch with muted colours, interesting textures and cuts that emphasise your shape. Wearing these classic pieces doesn't have to mean being boring – you can still show off your own sense of style while remaining polished.

formal attire

Do I have to wear formal attire?

Yes, a funeral is a formal occasion, so you should treat it as such. If in doubt, imagine you’re dressing for a job interview in a formal workplace. When it comes to dressing for the workplace, it's important to make sure that your choice of clothing is professional and appropriate.

Revealing clothing or anything too casual, like ripped jeans or sneakers, should be avoided – even if you think other people might dress this way, it’s better to show your respects by dressing formally.

It's always better to err on the side of caution and dress more formally than you suspect you need to, rather than showing up feeling too casual. Making sure you put in extra effort to look presentable will be noticed and appreciated.

Who can I ask if I can’t decide?

Whenever you're stuck between what to wear and it could be considered either formal or casual, it's always better to go with the more formal option. Not only can dressing too casually come off as disrespectful, but also if you dress more formally there is nothing wrong with that.

If you aren’t sure what to wear to a funeral, try asking other people who are attending what they will be wearing. You can also refer back to the invitation for clues about what is expected. If no dress code is specified, then you should assume that formal wear is expected. Try to avoid asking those organising the funeral what to wear, as they will be dealing with a lot of stress and sadness.

What if I don’t own a suit?

If you don’t own a suit, don’t panic. You could borrow something from a friend, or you could simply wear a shirt and dark trousers or jeans. What’s important is that you are presentable and clean and that your clothes are well-fitted. While a suit might be the most formal option, most people won’t remember what you were wearing. Making an effort to look formal is far better than deciding to make no effort at all.

Funerals are sombre occasions where we show respect to the deceased and their family. It is important to dress in appropriate clothing, which usually means dark colours and more formal attire. Men should wear a collared shirt and tie, and women should consider wearing a dress or skirt. If you are unsure about what to wear, it is always better to err on the side of caution by dressing more formally.