Guide to Dressing for a Funeral

If you are going to be attending a funeral in the near future, you may be wondering what would be appropriate or acceptable clothing to wear for such an occasion. As funerals are somber events, it is best to dress in a way that acknowledges the seriousness of the situation and pays proper respects to the deceased, as well as their family and loved ones. 

We have put together a helpful guide with tips for navigating how to dress for a funeral, so you are best prepared and know what to expect. 

Stick to Modest Clothing

As funerals are melancholy occasions, it is best to take the perspective that you should be blending in and fitting in amongst the other funeral attendees, rather than standing out. This means you should avoid ornate or flashy clothing with vibrant colors, bold graphics or embellishments. Now is not the time to have all eyes on you. While you don’t necessarily have to wear black, it is best to stick to conservative, more modest clothing, so women should also avoid any overly revealing clothing such as plunging necklines or short hemlines. To get a better sense of the kinds of clothing that are appropriate for a funeral, consider the dress code you would adhere to for a business interview or while attending church. 

Consider the Religion or Culture Being Observed 

If the family of the deceased is observing a particular religion or culture, you should take that into consideration to guide how you dress as well. There may be specific guidelines that adhere to the religion or culture that will further influence the clothing or types of garments you should wear. If you are concerned that you’re not familiar with the customs or etiquette expected of the religion or culture, it is perfectly appropriate to ask a family member what attire is preferred. For example, some religions may prefer that you wear a covering on your head, such as a yarmulke for men in the Jewish religion. 

Tips for Appropriate Women’s Clothing at A Funeral 

  • Stick to darker, more conservative colors for your garments
  • Dresses or suits are always acceptable, again as long as they are more modest
  • Keep shoulders covered
  • Avoid revealing clothing, bright colors or flashy prints
  • Hemlines of skirts/ dresses should reach the knees
  • Avoid too casual shoes or athletic shoes such as flip flops, other open-toed shoes such as sandals, or sneakers
  • Stick to dress shoes or loafers, flat shoes or pumps for shoes

Examples of accepted clothing for women at a funeral consist of dresses, skirt and suit, pant suit, skirt and blouse or pants and a blouse with sleeves. To ensure your shoulders are coveted, you may wear a sweater or formal jacket over your blouse. Flat shoes, pumps, loafers or dress shoes are good ideas of appropriate shoes to wear. 

Tips for Appropriate Men’s Clothing at A Funeral

  • Adhere to darker colored suits or button shirts
  • Long-sleeved shirts are preferred, as well as collars 
  • Consider wearing a belt with your shirt tucked in for a more polished, clean look
  • Avoid jeans or shorts and stick to dress pants
  • Avoid too casual or overly athletic shoes such as sneakers, flip flops 
  • Avoid athletic hats such as as baseball caps

Examples of acceptable attire for men at a funeral include a button-down shirt with dress suit and tie,  long-sleeved shirts with dress pants, polo shirt with slacks and a belt or a button-down shirt with vest, slack and a belt. Consider adding a blazer or formal jacket to easily add polish and clean up your look. For shoes, stick to dress shoes like Oxfords. 

Takeaway Tips for Everyone 

  • Stick to darker, more conservative colors for your garments. Black is always appropriate as it is considered a traditional color typically worn at funerals. However, you may also consider dark grays, and blues, or earthy tones like brown and lighter grey shades
  • Avoid bright or vibrant colors like reds, yellows, oranges and pinks
  • Avoid casual or athletic shoes 
  • Consider carrying a formal jacket with you just in case you need to polish up your look in a pinch 
  • Avoid revealing clothing and stick to more modest garments
  • Remember, now is the time to blend in and you are there to pay your proper respects for the mourning family
  • Keep in mind the setting of the funeral, and the religion or culture being observed