I’m trying to figure out what is appropriate to wear to a funeral. I’m attending my boss’s funeral and will be speaking in front of 400 people. I went online to search and found nothing. No one ever talks about this! Sadly, I’ve been to several funerals over the years, and I always hesitate – too dressy, not dressy enough, etc. I see people wearing denim as funeral attire, which I think is inappropriate, but what are the rules? Kari S.
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How to Dress for a Funeral
This is a topic many of us feel uncomfortable discussing, but it is important. What you wear to a funeral is about respecting the family. I don’t like to ever use the word “rules” because dressing is a way to express ourselves, but when attending a funeral, we want to respect others’ traditions.
A simple, classic black or navy dress with sleeves, and that ends at the knee or below, with minimal detail is always appropriate for a funeral. Here are a few more ways to think about it.
Funeral Dress Code
The etiquette for funeral attire is to match your clothing to the emotions of a funeral by wearing a respectful, business-type conservative outfit. Err on the side of dressing up rather than dressing down. Think of it this way:
- Dress like you’ll be giving a speech to a group of bankers or going for an important job interview.
- If you feel your outfit is too festive or casual, it probably is.
- Dress modestly. You’re not going to a party or nightclub!
- Keep prints small and subtle in dark or soft colors
Women’s Clothes for Funerals
Dress: A classic dress such as a sheath style, fit and flare, or simple, low-key shift dress is perfect for a wedding. See Dresses at the bottom of this post.
Classy Top and Pants: You can also wear a classy blouse or sweater with a skirt or dress pants.
Suit: A pantsuit or skirt and jacket show respect and are perfect, too. See suits for funerals here.
What not to wear to a Funeral
Jeans (even black). They are far too casual and not appropriate for this type of event.
Capris or shorts, even in summer!
Leggings or stretchy tight pants
Should you Wear Black to a Funeral?
It’s not mandatory, but you can never go wrong wearing black. However, anything in a dark color is just fine. Other options are gray, brown, dark green, burgundy, etc. Navy is a popular choice, as it looks formal but is less harsh looking.
What to Wear to a Memorial Service?
In general, you would wear the same thing to a Memorial service as a funeral – conservative clothing in dark colors. However, memorial services are deeply personal, and there may be a request for you to wear more joyful colors or something that reflects the personality of the deceased.
In this case, you may still want to err on the conservative side and wear something light, classic, and neutral. This pretty taupe pencil skirt and soft pink blouse would be very appropriate.
What is Appropriate to Wear to a Funeral?
- Don’t wear anything tight or revealing. No plunging necklines, skirts with a slit, sheer peek-a-boo fabrics, or mini dresses.
- Skirt length should be at the knee or just below.
- Don’t expose a lot of skin. This is not the time to try and look sexy.
- No bare legs (preferably). Wear dark stockings or ultra sheer nude hose to show respect.
- Cover your arms or shoulders if the funeral is being held in a formal church
- Avoid loud, busy patterns and prints like large stripes, polka dots, and animal prints.
- Nothing edgy or glitzy- Leather or sequins do not belong at a funeral.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Funerals can be a lot of standing and walking, so plan accordingly. Nothing too high (stilettos) or strappy. Closed-toe shoes are appropriate.
- Classic jewelry (gold or silver) is best. Avoid large, flashy bling.
Your funeral outfit should not be bright or flashy.
If your style is to wear colorful clothes, tone them down for a funeral. No solid bright colors, especially red, orange, or yellow, which, in some colors cultures, signifies a celebration. Some color on a dark background is o.k., but only a little.
A black dress with bright stripes or florals can be overpowering. Embellishment, like studs, can be distracting. Keep things subdued. The goal is not to try to bring attention to yourself.
A Few Other Things to Prepare for a Funeral
- Try on your funeral outfit the night before. If you have an outfit you “save” as your funeral outfit, you want to ensure it still fits!
- Don’t forget to tuck some tissue in your purse and an extra one to share.
- You may need an umbrella. Check the weather.
- Turn off your cell phone before you go. It would be pretty embarrassing to have your phone go off in the middle of this solemn event!