What to Wear to a Funeral

Losing a loved one is a challenging and emotional experience, and attending a funeral is a way to pay tribute and offer support to the grieving family. One important aspect of attending a funeral is dressing appropriately and respectfully. Learning what to wear to a funeral reflects your respect for the deceased but also shows compassion and empathy towards their family and friends.

In this article, we will explore the significance of dressing appropriately, traditional funeral attire, alternatives to traditional attire, practical considerations, etiquette guidelines, and tips for specific relationships with the deceased.

Importance of Dressing Appropriately for a Funeral

Funerals are solemn occasions that require us to show respect to the deceased and their loved ones. Dressing appropriately is a visible sign of honouring their memory and expressing condolences.

The significance of dressing respectfully to honour the deceased

Your attire at a funeral reflects your recognition of the life and contributions of the deceased. By dressing respectfully, you demonstrate your empathy and support to the grieving family.

Traditional Funeral Attire

Black or dark-coloured clothing

Wearing black or dark colours has been a long-standing tradition in many cultures as a symbol of mourning and respect. Opting for black or dark-coloured clothing is a safe and appropriate choice for a funeral.

Conservative and modest outfits

It is important to choose conservative and modest outfits for a funeral. Avoid clothing that is revealing, excessively tight, or too casual. Opt for clothing that covers the shoulders, chest, and knees, maintaining a dignified and respectful appearance.

Avoiding flashy accessories or excessive makeup

To maintain the focus on honouring the deceased, it is best to avoid flashy accessories or excessive makeup. Keep jewellery and accessories simple and minimal. Opt for natural-looking makeup that enhances your features without drawing unnecessary attention.

Alternatives to Traditional Funeral Attire

Cultural considerations

Different cultural perspectives on funeral dress codes 

Funeral dress codes can vary across different cultures and religions. It is essential to be aware of these differences and respect the specific customs and expectations of the culture in which the funeral takes place.

Researching the customs and traditions of the specific culture 

Before attending a funeral with cultural nuances, take the time to research and understand the specific customs and traditions associated with funeral attire. This ensures that you dress appropriately and avoid any unintentional disrespect.

Personalizing your outfit while maintaining respect

Incorporating touches that reflect the deceased’s personality or interests

If appropriate, consider incorporating subtle touches into your outfit that reflect the personality or interests of the deceased. This can be done through small details, such as wearing a piece of jewellery that belonged to them or selecting a colour that held significance in their life.

Opting for subtle colours or accessories as a tribute

To pay tribute to the deceased while maintaining an overall respectful tone, choose subtle colours or accessories that hold significance. For example, you could wear a tie or scarf in their favourite colour or choose a piece of jewellery with a symbolic meaning.

Practical Considerations

Dressing appropriately for the weather

Choosing appropriate layers for different seasons 

Depending on the time of year and climate, select appropriate layers to ensure comfort during the funeral service. Consider wearing a jacket or shawl for colder temperatures or opting for breathable fabrics during warmer seasons.

Being mindful of outdoor memorial services 

If the funeral service takes place outdoors, be mindful of the weather conditions. Dress accordingly, wearing appropriate clothing and accessories to protect yourself from the sun, wind, or rain.

People With Umbrellas At A Funeral
Being prepared with an umbrella is a good idea.

Comfort and Practicality

Ensuring the clothing is comfortable for the duration of the funeral

It is important to choose clothing that allows you to remain comfortable throughout the funeral service. Opt for fabrics that are breathable and not constricting, ensuring that you can sit, stand, and move without discomfort.

Practical footwear for walking or standing during the service 

Funerals often involve standing or walking, especially during the procession or burial. Select comfortable and appropriate footwear that will enable you to navigate these activities with ease. Avoid high heels or uncomfortable shoes that may cause pain or hinder movement.

Etiquette Guidelines for Funeral Attire

Following any specific dress code instructions from the family 

Some families may provide specific dress code instructions for the funeral. It is crucial to respect their wishes and adhere to any guidelines they provide.

Dressing with respect and avoiding inappropriate or distracting clothing 

Choose attire that is respectful and avoids drawing attention away from the purpose of the funeral. Avoid clothing that is too casual, provocative, or adorned with distracting graphics. This is not the time for self-expression through fashion choices.

Considering the solemnity of the event and dressing accordingly

Remember that a funeral is a solemn and sombre occasion. Dress in a manner that reflects the gravity of the event. Opt for understated, classic styles that exude dignity and respect.

Tips for Funeral Attire for Specific Relationships to the Deceased

Attending a funeral of a close family member

Dressing in a way that reflects your relationship and grief

When attending the funeral of a close family member, it is appropriate to dress in a manner that reflects your relationship and the depth of your grief. This may include wearing traditional mourning attire if it is customary in your culture or selecting clothing that symbolizes your bond with the deceased.

Considering traditional mourning customs if applicable

If your culture or family follows specific mourning customs, such as wearing a specific colour or symbol, it is respectful to adhere to these traditions as a way of honouring the deceased and showing solidarity with your family.

Attending the funeral of a distant relative or acquaintance

Dressing respectfully but not necessarily adhering to traditional mourning attire

When attending the funeral of a distant relative or acquaintance, it is still important to dress respectfully, but you may not be required to adhere strictly to traditional mourning attire. Opt for conservative and appropriate clothing that shows respect without being overly formal or sombre.

Showing support and paying respects within your personal style

While maintaining respect, you can incorporate elements of your personal style to show support and pay respects. Choose clothing that aligns with your taste while still upholding the overall tone of the occasion.

Final Thoughts

Attending a funeral is an opportunity to honour the life and memory of a loved one, as well as to offer support to the grieving family. Dressing appropriately for a funeral is a way to demonstrate respect and empathy.

Whether you choose traditional funeral attire or incorporate personal touches, the key is to strike a balance between showing respect and expressing your condolences.

By following etiquette guidelines, considering cultural customs, and being mindful of practical considerations, you can ensure that your attire pays homage to the deceased and provides comfort to their loved ones during this difficult time.

Need help arranging a funeral? Read our funeral checklist.


What should I wear to a funeral?

It is customary to wear black or dark-coloured clothing to a funeral or memorial service.

What if I don’t have any black clothes?

If you do not have any black clothes, you can opt for a dark-coloured outfit. Just make sure it is appropriate and respectful.

Can I wear colours other than black to a funeral?

While black is the traditional colour to wear to a funeral, some families may request that attendees wear a specific colour or encourage them to wear colourful attire to celebrate the life of the loved one.

What is appropriate funeral attire for women?

Women can wear a black dress, a skirt or pantsuit paired with a blouse, or a conservative outfit. It is best to avoid flashy or revealing clothing.

Can I wear jewellery and accessories to a funeral?

It is generally acceptable to wear simple and modest jewellery, such as a small necklace or earrings. Avoid wearing anything too flashy or attention-grabbing.

Can I wear casual clothing to a funeral?

Funerals are formal occasions, so it is best to avoid wearing casual clothing. Opt for neat and tidy attire that is appropriate for a sombre event.

What should the immediate family wear to a funeral?

The immediate family of the deceased usually wears more formal and traditional funeral attire, such as a black suit for men or a black dress for women.

Should I check the weather forecast before deciding what to wear?

It is always a good idea to check the weather forecast before attending a funeral. This will help you dress appropriately for the temperature and conditions.

Are there any specific dos and don’ts for funeral attire?

Do dress appropriately and respectfully. Don’t wear anything too casual, revealing, or flashy. It is also important to be mindful of cultural or religious customs that may affect appropriate attire.