Funeral Etiquette 101 – What to Wear/Not to Wear
Traditionally, black has been the color of mourning and black clothing the norm in many cultures for anyone attending a funeral. While, nowadays, the expectations are less rigid, it’s good to know what general funeral etiquette prescribes.
Here’s a list of funeral etiquette basics to guide you:
Funeral Etiquette 101 – What to Wear
Wearing proper attire can show respect and care for the deceased, their family, and others.
In general, an outfit to wear to a funeral should be more on the conservative side, something you might wear to a business meeting, a job interview, or church or synagogue.
Black or dark colors continues to be the best option, especially for the immediate family of the deceased.
Those attending the service have more options, especially guests, yet the guidelines still require wearing mostly subdued, conservative clothing that is respectful to the event. Clothes should be clean, neat, and well-pressed.
Most common funeral etiquette practices for men to wear include a dark suit with a white or plain solid colored shirt, and a subdued tie; a dark jacket with dark pants, and a collared, shirt with a tie and a belt; and dark dress shoes. Younger men should, at minimum, wear a well-pressed solid-colored shirt, slacks, and dress shoes if possible.
Most common funeral etiquette practices for women to wear include a dark or black skirt suit or pantsuit; a skirt of appropriate length or pants and a top with sleeves, a blouse, or a sweater; flats or pumps. In some cultures, and religions women wear hats to funerals.
In some cultures, black clothing only is still very traditional and expected. If the service follows a specific religion, there may be additional guidelines for clothing, such as head coverings for both men and women, or full-length skirts and tops for women.
Funeral Etiquette 101 – What Not To Wear
According to the International Business Protocol and Social Etiquette, colors to avoid include red, orange, and yellow, bright hues and flowers and other bold and loud patterns.
Interestingly, there are religions and cultures where black clothing would be inappropriate, such as at a Quaker funeral, at which guests should wear white.
As far as the style, men should avoid wearing jeans, short-sleeved shirts, athletic shoes, and baseball caps.
Women should avoid wearing very casual, festive, or revealing clothing, flip-flops, sandals, or sneakers. Also, parents should be mindful of what their children should wear, making sure it’s not messy clothes and jeans.
With this said, the support you offer the family by simply attending the funeral is much more important than what you wear.
- Please note, this article is meant to be “general in nature” and customs and can traditions may vary greatly depending on the region and specific place of worship.
We hope you find these funeral etiquette basics helpful.
At DeBord Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory, we are deeply committed to helping you through the difficult times and providing compassionate care before, during and after the funeral.
For more information about how DeBord Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory can assist you with any funeral needs, we invite you to contact us today:
Appropriate Attire; Over the last few decades the guidelines for what is and what is not appropriate apparel for events such as viewings and funerals have been greatly relaxed, men are no longer required to wear ties or suit jackets, women and girls can wear pants, and no one is required to wear black; this said however, one should try to exercise common sense and good taste.
Rene Revenaugh says
I went to a funeral today – the main thing I’d say that people wore were conservative colors and styles. Black or black combos – some polka dot or floral was OK, but the idea is not to dress festive but a bit somber. Even during a “celebration of life” service, low key is the key! Don’t take away from the main event which is the person who’s being honored. Most men wore dark suits, or at least dark slacks.
I went to a funeral the other day for my grandfather and my birth mother wore a black leather skirt with leather boots. Many of the family members felt disrespected and that she dishonoured the memory of her ex father in law. She wore it with a vibrant green shirt and practically screamed for attention.