Clothing Etiquette for Funerals

by Sara Ipatenco

Funerals aren't fashion shows, and what you wear matters. A funeral service is a somber affair, a time for mourning -- which means that you should choose your attire carefully and thoughtfully. Certain religions dictate appropriate dress; absent specific expectations, choose a conservative outfit in muted colors that won't draw unsuitable attention.

Women

Women should wear a low-key dress, pant suit, or skirt and top to a funeral service. While you're not required to wear all black, choose a neutral color -- gray, navy blue and brown are some appropriate choices. Definitely pass on clothes that have bold and colorful prints, such as zebra stripes. As you select the clothes you'll wear to a funeral, think in terms of what you'd be comfortable wearing to church, which means you'll want to skip the low-cut tops, stiletto heels and mini-skirts. If you wear jewelry, choose simple, classic pieces.

Men

Men should wear a suit or slacks with a button-down shirt and tie. Again, black is not required; among the many suitable alternatives are a navy blue suit or slacks with a neutral cream, blue or gray button-down shirt. Pass on brightly colored ties and never wear a hat during the funeral service.

Children

If you take your children to a funeral service, dress them as if you were taking them to church. Girls should wear dresses or a skirt and top. Boys should wear slacks or corduroy pants with a button-down shirt; a tie is nice, but not necessary for young boys. Show respect for the deceased and the grieving family by not taking your children to a funeral dressed in jeans or play clothes.

Additional Etiquette and Exceptions

Find out if the deceased's religion dictates specific funeral clothing guidelines and adhere to them. For example, Jewish men customarily wear a head covering called a "yarmulke" to a religious service, including funerals; there's often a supply on hand to pass out to non-Jewish guests. Muslim funerals typically require women to cover their heads during the service.

There are various reasons, additionally, why you may encounter an exception to funeral attire standards. Some families, for example, may ask guests to wear the deceased's favorite color, which means your best choice could be a bold pink or a flashy red. If you're not aware of any unusual dress code established for a funeral, go the conservative route every time.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.