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What Do I Wear To A Funeral

Funeral Dress Etiquette

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Two mourners at a gravestone
altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

When dressing for a funeral you should always choose something that is conservative. Your clothing choice should reflect your respect and recognition that this is a solemn occasion in honor of a friend or loved one.

Here are some general tips to assist you in choosing the appropriate dress for attendance at a funeral or graveside service.

Women.

  • Choose black. I don't think you can ever go wrong with a black dress or suit. These wardrobe items are both very versatile. In addition, either of these options is easily suited for both dressy to conservative wear. This makes either choice appropriate dress for many occasions. Choosing a black dress or suit will send the message that you are reverent and honoring of the deceased. This is definitely not a time for you to wear loud or splashy colors. If you don't want to wear black, other great color options include navy blue and grey.
  • Think conservative. Funerals tend to be solemn events. Take care to dress and behave in a conservative manner that reflects a reverent attitude. Conservative dress might include a nice business suit or a simple dress. Take care to cover your shoulders and knees. Pass on the cocktail party look and opt for a more sedate appearance.
  • Wear a hat This is a perfect occasion to wear your favorite hat. Hats give a polished look and will complete your ensemble in a classic yet stylish way. Keep in mind your hat should not be gauche or outlandish.
  • Tone down the jewelry. Most stylishly elegant women will want to include their jewels, even during a funeral. Try not to appear overly adorned by sticking with one ring per hand and maybe a classic string of pearls. Again, you want to reflect a mourning spirit without sacrificing style.
  • Use shoe sensibility. A funeral is not the time to choose very high heels or shoes that are notoriously uncomfortable (no matter how fabulous they look). You are headed in to a high stress situation and the last things you want to worry about are your feet. Choose comfort over glamour and you will be grateful. Funerals normally involve a great deal of standing and walking, especially if you are planning to attend the graveside service.
  • Just in case… I always recommend carrying along a trusty umbrella and an extra handkerchief or two. My experience includes quite a few rainy funeral services so it's better to be safe (and dry) than soggy.

Men.

  • A conservative suit. As mentioned above, the black conservative cut black suit is a perfect choice for a funeral. Other great choices include a grey or dark blue suit. Regardless of the suit you choose you should wear a crisp white collared shirt with a nice tie. Try to avoid loud colors.
  • Wear a hat and a trench If you are a hat wearer feel free to wear one to the funeral. A nice fedora style is a great choice. Complete the look with a classic black or dark trench.
  • Tone down the jewelry. Try to avoid any jewelry other than a wedding band and a watch. Remember your goal is to show respect and reverence. You don't want to draw undo attention to yourself.
  • Shoe shine. Take an extra minute to shine up your dress shoes before you go. This will complete a polished and elegant look that is not distracting.
  • Just in case… Again, carry along an umbrella just in case it begins to rain. The extra hankies are nice just in case you need to offer a shoulder or more to an overly distraught loved one or friend..

Children.

  • I don't normally recommend that very young children attend funerals unless they are members of the immediate family. Still, there is certainly nothing wrong with choosing to take them along.
  • If you are dressing children for a funeral their dress code is a little more relaxed. Dress them in darker clothing and nice dress shoes.
  • Try to avoid overly cutesy dresses or faddish ensembles and opt instead for understated and classic.
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