Funeral attire should be conservative and respectful. While black is the color traditionally worn to a funeral service, navy or brown may also be appropriate. Above all, it is important to dress for a funeral in the same manner you would dress for a religious ceremony or job interview. Consider your appearance as a way of paying your respects to the deceased.
Women may wear a dark dress or suit to a funeral service. A black dress with a black shawl or cardigan is often an appropriate choice. Do not wear bright lipstick or too much makeup. Remember, you are not there to draw attention to yourself. If you decide to carry a purse, keep it small. You do not need to carry too much in your handbag at a funeral, though if you do carry a purse, bring extra tissues. It is polite to offer them to other attendees. If you wear a hat, make sure it is dark and simple.
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The usual attire for a man attending a western funeral is a black suit, white shirt and dark tie. A navy, brown or dark gray suit may also be appropriate if you don't have a black suit. Do not wear a loud, patterned tie, and keep accessories subtle. Do not wear any logos or team insignia unless attendees have been asked to do so.
Children should dress like their fathers and mothers. For little girls, simple black dresses, black tights and dark shoes are a safe choice. If a girl wears hair ribbons, barrettes or hairbands, keep these dark as well. Little boys can dress in a suit like their fathers. Alternatively, black pants and a black sweater should suffice. Sneakers are inappropriate.
Cover your shoulders, knees and toes. Sandals are seldom appropriate, and tank tops, shorts, and strapless dresses are never appropriate. Depending on religious or social customs, attendees may be asked to wear colors other than black. If the deceased loved the color red, guests may be encouraged to wear red as a celebration of her life. Some religions have their own designated colors for funeral attire. When in doubt, ask a family member or friend about their culture’s customs in advance.
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Fern Morris has been writing about the arts, culture, etiquette and society since 2004. She has published her work internationally in various magazines, websites, exhibition catalogues and academic journals.