What To Wear to a Funeral

Choosing what to wear to a funeral can sometimes be a difficult and emotional process. When the grief journey is just beginning, it can feel like so many things need to be taken care of with snap decision efficiency. On top of that, you now have to decide what to wear to the service. For some, choosing a funeral outfit gives people a sense of control. For others, it’s an exhausting riddle that feels like it has no “right” answer. That’s why we’ve put together this list of tips for what to wear to a funeral.

What To Wear to a Funeral

Read The Fine Print

When someone in your family or community passes on, you can expect an announcement from the family about the funeral or celebration of life service. This announcement will always list the time and location of the service, but make sure you read closely. Many announcements will also include a dress code or suggestions of what to wear to honor the departed. For instance, people might request that everyone wear a certain color (other than black) or bring an accessory such as sports memorabilia from their favorite team. It’s never a good feeling to show up to a service to see that everyone else has gotten the memo but you didn’t read the fine print. This rule is also important for specific religious funerals or cultural practices. Read the announcement three times, just to make sure you didn’t miss any details.

Don’t Steal Attention

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to dressing for a funeral. Keep it simple with darker clothing such as navy, gray, or black unless specified by the family of the deceased. Avoid more showy outfits that feature bright colors or larger accessories. Closed-toe shoes should be worn rather than flip-flops or sandals if you will be attending the burial — you wouldn’t want to slip in the grass. The cut of your clothing is also important, so avoid outfits that are too tight or that show off cleavage. Remember, this isn’t an opportunity to show off your fashion-forward sense of style. A funeral is about life lived and lost — keep your focus on celebrating the departed and making yourself available to those who need comfort.

The Difference Between Casual and Celebratory

This is an important distinction to make, and refers to the first tip of reading the fine print. If you have been invited to a celebration of life service as opposed to a funeral service, the dress code will likely be more casual. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should show up in jeans and a t-shirt. People will still be gathering to pay their respects, so it’s important to be mindful of that. You can celebrate the spirit of your loved one without underdressing for the occasion. However, if the people organizing the service emphasize that they want people to dress in an outfit that the deceased would have loved or approved of, then you definitely should. Maybe you have an item of clothing that they complimented you on or maybe even bought for you. Wearing that article of clothing would be a kind remembrance, even if it might be more casual. It’s all about making a thoughtful judgement call based on the information that is readily available to you. 

Give Yourself Some Grace

Sometimes choosing a funeral outfit can be difficult because people have a sentimental attachment to clothing, often without realizing it. If you find yourself looking through your closet with a sense of hopelessness, it might be because you don’t want to wear something that you love to an event that might make you sad. Clothing can provide a tactile memory of an experience, so choosing a funeral outfit can make it feel like you’re designating a piece of your clothing as tied to death in some way. If this is the case, don’t worry. You’re not alone in this feeling. If you can, perhaps buy a new dress or dress shirt just for the occasion. If that isn’t financially feasible or you’re working under time constraints, perhaps even ask a friend if you might borrow clothing. If this isn’t an option, you may also consider wearing something of your own and then donating it after, or keeping it in the closet in the event of future services. Regardless of what you decide, give yourself some grace. People process grief in different ways.

Choosing what to wear to a funeral isn’t always as easy as it seems. Remember to read the instructions, as well as to make your choices thoughtfully and with your loved one in mind. Be kind to yourself as you process your grief and continue to live your life.

We want to help you make the best decisions for you and your family to celebrate the memory of a life lived. If you have any questions about our cemetery, funeral home or cremation services, please contact us


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