As a general rule of thumb, funeral clothing should be smart and presentable. If there is a particular dress code, it's important that you follow it. Of course, choosing what to wear for a funeral isn't as easy as rummaging through your wardrobe for the first black top you find. In order to make it a little easier, we have put together a detailed guide.
The most traditional type of men's funeral attire is a two-piece suit. This is a smart option that looks best with a black jacket, tie, and trousers. It is perfectly acceptable to wear a white shirt but many people prefer to wear all black or darker colours. Be sure to avoid ties with eccentric patterns and shapes. Of course, if you don't have a suit jacket, a simple shirt, tie and trousers is also a good choice.
When it comes to finding the right funeral clothes for women, there are lots of options. A simple black dress is always a good place to start. Try to avoid casual clothing unless the family requests it. Skirts and dresses below the knees or a nice trouser suit are all popular options. Whatever it is you wear, it's important that you feel comfortable. While black should always be the prominent colour, it's OK to pair it with muted shades like a navy handbag or cardigan. Try to keep accessories basic and avoid any statement jewellery.
It's best to dress your children in something they will find comfortable, as the experience will likely be new to them. Luckily, unlike adults, children are not expected to wear black clothing. This is particularly good for parents because black clothing for children can be challenging to find. All you need to do is find some smart clothing that children will like. It's OK for boys to use a suit that they wear for weddings and other special occasions. Otherwise, a straightforward button-up shirt and some trousers will do the trick. Similarly, girls can wear a nice dress or some trousers and a smart top. The main things to avoid when dressing your child for a funeral are t-shirts, shorts, sandals, trainers, and bright prints or character clothing. Many opt for school trousers or skirts and school shoes as a smart, simple solution.
If the family have requested guests not to wear black, then you should always follow this rule. While it may feel slightly different, it's important to respect the family's wishes. Even though other colours are accepted, you still want to look presentable. If you don't know what to wear for a funeral when you're asked not to wear black, follow the regular guidelines like avoiding bold prints and slogans. Instead of black, opt for a pastel suit jacket, a white shirt, and a matching tie. For dresses, keep it simple with one colour. Avoid anything that will make you stand out like bright floral or stripes.
Funerals during summer can be hot, especially if you are wearing black, so it's always best to find light and loose-fitting materials. When choosing what to wear for a summer funeral for men, stay smart with a shirt, tie, and trousers. Choose breathable fabrics but always avoid shorts, tees, and sandals. For women, smart three-quarter length trousers or a dress that comes down to the knees are considered appropriate options. A good tip is to carry some deodorant with you to prevent body odour and keep you feeling refreshed.
In winter, keep warm with a smart coat. Black is always the best option but dark outerwear is also acceptable. Men could pair their shirt and tie with a black jumper while women may opt for an elegant cardigan or scarf. If you are wearing a dress, choose some thick plain tights to keep your legs warm. If you don't have a black jumper or cardigan, you can always layer up underneath instead.
While there are many different types of funeral services, generally speaking you should always err on the side of smart. For funerals and memorial services, smart attire is always best. The exception to this rule is for a life celebration. For this you can wear slightly more casual clothes. What you choose to wear also depends on the location of the service. If it's in a church, keep it traditional. For picnics or home-based events, you can take a smart-casual approach, avoiding novelty tees, shorts and flip flops.
What you wear to a funeral can depend on religion. While most Western funerals require traditional black attire, some religions have different expectations. People attending Buddhist and Hindu funerals, for example, tend to wear white. Always do your research and ask someone if in doubt.
For specific religions, read our guides here for information on what to wear to a traditional service.
Due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic, virtual funerals are becoming increasingly common. While funeral attendees won't see your full outfit, you will still want to feel appropriately dressed out of respect. Usually, the dress code isn't as strict as traditional funerals so you won't need to wear black. Be sure to avoid loungewear, pyjamas, and sportswear.