Observing a dress code at a funeral is a simple way of extending your consideration and respect to both the person who has passed away and their family members. However, thinking about dress codes is the last thing on anyone’s mind following the announcement of a friend, family member, or colleague’s death.
Funerals and memorials are generally held within days of a death, so that leaves most people having to scramble to find something appropriate to wear to the service. We’ve created this guide on funeral attire to help you navigate these last-minute situations with confidence and ease.
For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when they think of funeral attire is the colour black. Wearing black has been a symbol of bereavement for centuries in Western culture – going all the way back to the ancient Romans. However, not every culture associates the colour black with death. In China, the colour white is reserved as the traditional colour of mourning, while in Thailand, it’s the colour purple that carries this special significance.
Like every other tradition, the tradition of wearing black to a funeral has changed over the years to adapt to the times. These days, it’s no longer mandatory to wear black to a funeral unless otherwise specified.
Although dress codes for funerals are less rigid these days, it’s still important to remain respectful in your clothing choices. When in doubt, go for conservative, understated, and neutral clothing options. There’s a time and a place for everything, and a funeral is probably not the best time to show off your flashiest outfit. After all, the whole purpose of a funeral is for family and friends to honour and say goodbye to a loved one who has just passed away. Opting for subdued tones such as black, grey, and navy and steering clear of bright colours and prints will ensure that you don’t take attention away from the person being honoured.
Funeral attire for men – What should men wear to a funeral?
When the dress code hasn’t been specified by the organisers of the funeral, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Going for a black, grey, or navy suit with a collared shirt and plain tie is a safe option for when you don’t know what to wear. Appearing neat and tidy is a sign of respect, so it’s a good idea to make an extra effort to get your hair trimmed and to shine your shoes where possible.
Sometimes, families do ask mourners to wear specific clothing items or colours to the service. For example, they may ask guests to come to the funeral in the colours of their family member’s favourite sports team. However, if there’s been no such request from the family, it’s best to leave the novelty ties, sports caps, and t-shirts at home.
Finding appropriate attire for a funeral in summer can be a challenge. Wearing a heavy, dark suit, for instance, isn’t ideal when it’s 27 degrees and sunny. Although most modern funerals don’t require guests to wear formal suits and dresses anymore, you still shouldn’t dress too casually. Items such as thongs, activewear, and short dresses should be avoided – even if it’s hot outside.
For women, something like a long sundress in a breathable fabric such as cotton would be a good route to take. For men, slacks paired with a cotton or linen collared shirt would be a perfectly acceptable option in situations where it’s simply far hot to wear a suit.
Wearing black to a funeral is no longer mandatory, which opens up many more options for acceptable funeral attire. When considering what to wear to a funeral, allow the deceased person and their family to guide your choices. Your outfit should be selected according to the personality and beliefs of the person whose funeral you’re attending. After all, the occasion revolves entirely around them.
If a dress code hasn’t been specified by the family of the deceased, always go for a conservative option. Dark colours, neutral prints, and conservative cuts are all fail-safe options. Taking the time to dress according to the family’s wishes will go a long way in showing your regard for the deceased person and their family members.
Our tips, guidelines, and ideas on funeral attire can help you prepare yourself so that you’re always ready in the event of an unexpected passing. However, it’s important to remember that like funeral services themselves, dress codes for funerals and memorial services can vary greatly according to cultures, beliefs, religions, and personalities. If you’re really unsure about what to wear to a funeral service, there’s nothing wrong with asking the family for their opinion.
At Foothills Conference Centre, we welcome funerals, wakes, and celebration of life services of all shapes and sizes. With an empathetic and caring in-house catering and events team to call on, you can rest assured that you’re in safe and sympathetic hands right from the very beginning.