What to wear to a funeral

Because of its sensitive nature, you should always select what you're going to wear to a funeral with care. Here are some tips on the clothing rules for various situations.

What to wear to a funeral

Dark clothing

Black tends to be the colour of choice when it comes to what to wear to a funeral. However, dark colours that don't command much attention are also acceptable.

Men’s attire

Men should dress in a black suit with a white collared shirt for a funeral. You can also wear a dark-coloured suit and a black turtleneck instead of a white shirt. The rule of thumb is to dress as simply as possible. That means minimal jewellery and neutral ties, as well.

Pallbearers' attire

Pallbearers should wear a dark suit or a dark sports jacket and tie.

Women's attire

Many women choose to wear classic black attire such as a black dress or dark suit jacket with a dark blouse and slacks or skirt. There are exceptions to this rule: Women can wear a subdued dress under a black coat. Wear simple jewelry and accessories that aren’t too bright or flashy.

Children's attire

You’ll want to make sure children are appropriately dressed in the occasion of a funeral. Young boys can wear a black suit or dark-coloured shirt, pants or sweater. Young girls should wear a simple dress with very little pattern or detail. Girls footwear can include plain flats and boys can wear black dress shoes or loafers. However, children are not expected to conform to the same clothing rules as adults. They are permitted more flexibility in their attire.

Funeral clothing rules of thumb

Dark colours such as black, navy or grey are more conservative and more appropriate for a funeral service. Revealing clothing is not deemed appropriate and some places of worship prefer that shoulders and knees remain covered. In general, dress with humility and minimalism, which includes wearing sensible and appropriate shoes. Flip-flops and athletic footwear is unacceptable.

Dressing for the weather

If the temperatures are soaring on the day of the funeral, men can remove their jackets for any outdoor services but should try to keep them on while inside. Women can wear lighter dresses but should bring a sweater or jacket to cover bare shoulders.

Go easy on the makeup

Funerals are very emotional times for everyone. Makeup should look natural rather than glamorous in order to show respect for the solemn occasion. Don’t wear too much eye makeup—especially if you know you’re going to cry. You can also try waterproof mascara to keep black streaks from streaming down your face.

Remember that a bereaved family will appreciate your respect. While you may normally like to dress in flashy colours, a funeral is not the time nor the place to show off your best wardrobe pieces. First and foremost, you should consider what is respectful to the grieving family and their departed loved one.

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