A Short Guide to Dressing for a Funeral in 2021

Guide to Dressing for a Funeral

A death in the family is a sombre affair. Losing a loved one is never easy, and often people find it challenging to come to terms with it. The process of grieving is a long and somewhat confusing process, but also one that becomes relatively easier with the support of friends and family. A funeral and memorial service help in this regard. People close to the deceased get an opportunity to come together and pay respects to the dead. Funerals are a rather serious affair that needs to be respectful and honourable to the deceased and their family.

Thus, one must know about the customs of a funeral and about A wide variety of questions, such as: whether or not to attend a funeral, who to invite and who not to invite, how to conduct the funeral service, what to do with the ashes, and where to send flowers. Funeral etiquette is an essential aspect of the customs of a funeral. Funerals, wakes, and viewings are not only challenging for the person planning the memorial ceremony or funeral and the immediate family of the deceased, but they can also be difficult for friends, acquaintances, and relatives.

One isn’t sure about what to say or know the best way to support a grieving person. Being in mourning, one is likely to be approached with many queries as they have no idea about the acceptable etiquette for taking care of such a difficult situation. One of the lesser talked about yet a vital part of funeral etiquette is the proper/appropriate funeral attire. A funeral is a gathering where family and friends mourn the death of a loved one.

Thus, one must certainly look the part. And so one might have asked, ‘how to dress for a funeral’ or ‘what do you wear to a funeral’ countless times. One must look like they’re in mourning. According to the International Business Protocol and Social Etiquette, colours to avoid include orange, yellow, red, bright shades and flowers and other bold or loud shapes and patterns. Surprisingly, there are cultures and religions where black clothing would be inappropriate, such as at a Quaker funeral, where guests should wear white.

While choosing what to wear to a funeral or what to wear to a casual funeral, it is always best to go modest and unobtrusive. While it’s true that you don’t have to wear black, you should dress for a funeral in a way that conveys respect. This means avoiding flashy prints, glittery fabrics, and bright colours.

A general guideline is to dress as if you are partaking in a serious official meeting of some kind. This means that whatever you choose should be inspired by your location, the cultural norms, and the deceased’s traditions. For example, in most Hindu/Muslim funerals, the mourners wear white. White coloured clothes are donned to convey gratitude and respect to the deceased during their memorial.

White symbolizes respect and serenity in all events and many occasional gatherings. It stands for respect and honour to the dead. Although sometimes people do not follow this white funeral attire custom and they don’t wear something fancy or bright coloured. A loved one’s demise is harrowing and traumatic, and donning a plain and regular garb is advisable in these mournful events.

The colour people wear to a funeral relates to religion, surroundings, convention and the like. It is typical in most Western funerals for everyone to wear black (or other dark colours) unless it is an unconventional funeral or if one has been asked to wear white – otherwise, it may cause offence. Because in the Christian tradition, White is worn in weddings since it is associated with purity, light, goodness, faith, sterility, spirituality, sincerity etc.

Appropriate Dresses for Funerals: Dos and Don’ts

Appropriate Dresses for Funerals: Dos and Don'ts
Appropriate Dresses for Funerals: Dos and Don’ts


● Consider when and where the service will be held: A memorial service in a private ceremony at one’s home will be more casual than awake at a place of worship.
● Use common sense: If you attend the funeral or memorial of a person you knew to be quite conservative, the attire should likely be more traditional.
● Ask for advice: It is entirely appropriate to ask a family member or the funeral director for advice on what to wear to a funeral. The deceased may have suggested a preference. As an example, consider how a person with a jovial sense of humour might have stated in their funeral arrangement scheme that they expect all people attending to put on yellow, their favourite colour.
● Pick an attire that helps you blend in: We all want to be unique, but a funeral is about the deceased and the family members. Thus it is not the time to stand out. You want to be dressed along the same lines as the other mourners. Try to be unobtrusive.
● Think about the culture: Some societies have specific customs associated with funeral clothes. For example, consider how most Asian countries put on white attire while in certain African cultures, red and black are the traditional funeral attire. If the funeral is for someone with a distinct cultural background, it is acceptable to inquire a family member if there is attire of preference.

Picking what to wear to a traditional funeral can be difficult. There is no doubt that societies have changed significantly with time, and most people are going for a more unceremonious approach to attire for a funeral. But, one still needs to keep the purpose of the event in mind and think conservatively. If you want to go casual, do business casual, not beach casual. They are there to pay their respects to the deceased and his or her family and not to beach trip.

The best advice we can give is to apply your brain and dressed for a funeral as one does for a Sunday service. As for proper colours to wear to a funeral: Go with dull and drab colours and easy-going styles. And if you’re still confused, discuss it with your parents. Think low key and tasteful. While figuring out your proper funeral attire, stick with the regional customs and religion. Cowboy clothes won’t work at an urban funeral, and a Hawaiian one will be offensive at a winter ceremony. Use your mind and ask for help making your choices if you feel stuck.

You are not supposed to be the centre of attention, so don’t wear anything eye-grabbing. Stick to conventional picks like a classy dress, something with slacks or a skirt and a blouse. For men, a shirt and tie will do the trick. You can’t go too wrong with a sports coat. Make sure you’re appropriately groomed. Don’t overdo it, though. Don’t go for something makeup that is too glamorous. Go for something minimal.

It’s common to see people out and about in their sleeping clothes these days. Never do that at a funeral. Look like you’re there to honour the deceased.


● Be a rebel at this time: A funeral is a time for everyone to mourn the dead. It is not the time to stand out.
● Underdress: While you are sure to notice a range of choices in apparels, you are much better off if you are somewhat overdressed than underdressed. Step away from sneakers and flip flops!
● Forget the reason you are there: The funeral’s whole point is to pay one’s respects to the deceased. If you choose something respectful, you will be just fine.
● Stress too much over it: Chances are you will have something that will work out. Just stick to basic dark colours and something straightforward and conservative. The important thing is that you are there to honour the dearly departed one. Unless your outfit is very over the top or completely inappropriate, no one is going to even notice what you are wearing.

What to Wear to a Funeral: Tips for Women

Tips for Women
Tips for Women

● A suit with a skirt or pants in dark, solid colours such as blue, grey or brown is a safe choice. You do not have to wear black unless the specific culture dictates it or the deceased’s family has requested that black be worn.
● A skirt of appropriate length and a dark coloured sweater or blouse is ordinarily appropriate and will not offend anyone.
● Pumps or flat shoes are a good choice for shoes to be worn to a funeral or memorial service. Open-toed shoes or sandals can also be considered depending on the climate and the venue.
● A hat may be worn depending on the culture or religion.
● Jeans and t-shirts are usually considered too casual unless there are some particular circumstances of sorts where it is acceptable to dress more casually.
● Go with light makeup, nothing too dramatic or too stylish. Look sharp and presentable while also being subtle and low-key.
● Jewellery should also be minimal and nothing too intricate and flamboyant.
● If it is an awake or viewing ceremony for a government official organized by a government body, like the army or the police, make sure you follow the government body’s dress code in question. Funerals are serious gatherings and it being an official viewing makes it even more serious. Make sure you’ve dressed appropriately in an exemplary fashion.

What to Wear to a Funeral: Tips for Men

Tips for Men
Tips for Men

● A plain formal shirt paired with a tie and a suit or a plain regular dark t-shirt with a sports jacket is good picks. Do not limit yourself to black clothes. Some dark, dull colours are usually a good choice.
● You can wear casual shoes, but it’s advisable to avoid sneakers or sports shoes. Flip flops or sandals are probably not appropriate to wear either.
● Don’t go in jeans. Wear them in circumstances where it’s acceptable. Half-sleeved shirts and brightly coloured designer shirts are also a big no.
● Baseball caps or snapbacks are rarely appropriate. Traditional hats are acceptable, though. So, one can wear a fedora instead.
● If it is an awake or viewing ceremony organized by a government body like the army or the police, for a government official, make sure you follow the dress code decided by the government body in question.

Funerals are serious gatherings and it being an official viewing makes it even more serious. These funerals and their memorial services are full-grown with custom. These customs are designed to pay proper respects upon these local heroes’ demise, who put their lives at risk every day for the people. Another question that is repeatedly asked is if one should salute the casket inside with their hats or without them.

The protocol is self-contradictory here: One shouldn’t wear their hats inside but can’t salute if they’re not wearing their hats. The best is to complement the casket first, with your hat on and then take it off. It is okay to remove your cover when entering the church or funeral home unless you are a pallbearer or a member of the honour guard, or a colour guard. They must wear their hats at all times. Others can put their hats on when they go back outside. Make sure you’ve dressed appropriately in a respectable fashion.

What to Wear to a Funeral: Tips for Teens and Children

Tips for Teens and Children
What to Wear to a Funeral: Tips for Teens and Children

● Teenagers and younger children should take cues from their parents. “Church” type clothing, age-appropriate styles that show respect are generally appropriate.
● Suit and tie for boys, and a dress of an appropriate length (Preferably those end below the knees) for girls. The attire must be dark in colour.
● Boys must wear dark coloured full shoes, and can also wear a hat. Girls must wear flats and can also wear minimal headpiece or tie their hair neatly with ribbons.
● They must be appropriately groomed. Hair should be neatly cropped or combed and tied if it is too long. Girls must go with light makeup, nothing too eye-popping or overly stylish. Looking sharp and presentable while also being subtle and low-key is the best way to go about this.
● Jewellery should also be minimal and nothing too fashionable and striking.

Conclusion: A Final Word of Advice

Historically speaking, black colour has always been a symbol of mourning, and black coloured clothes are the norm in many cultures worldwide for everybody who is attending a wake. As is evident, nowadays, most people are less firm about funeral attires. It’s still safe to know what it is that proper etiquette for a memorial asks of us. In some cultures, black clothing is still considered very traditional and is expected to be worn by the mourners. If the service is according to a specific religion, there may be extra clothing guidelines, such as headgear for both men and women or full-length skirts and tops for women.

Wearing proper attire shows respect and love for the deceased, their family, and other relatives. Black or other dark colours continue to be the best option, especially for the deceased’s immediate family. Mourners attending the funeral service have more options, especially the guests, yet the general guidelines still advise wearing mostly subdued, conservative and dull clothing that is respectful to the event. Clothes should be neat, clean, and ironed.

On a general principle, the formal way for proper funeral clothes is identical for both ladies and gents: formal attire, which is conservative and respectful. Focus your time and effort on the intention of dressing conservatively as opposed to going all out. Black or any other dark colour is almost always appropriate funeral attire. Be sure to take the funeral and memorial service’s location and weather into consideration and consult with a deceased family member if you need specific advice on the right colours to wear to a funeral. Also, parents should be careful about what their children are planning to wear.

Often, children are lazy, rebellious or uninterested, don’t make funeral and memorial services seriously, and put on just about anything. Thus parents should discuss the function of a wake and a funeral and make sure that their children know the significance of funeral etiquette and funeral attire. Parents have to make sure that they don’t show up in messy clothes and casual wear like jeans, hoodies, flip-flops or sweatpants.

While it’s true that the standard for funeral wear has become more casual over all these years, funeral clothes should still be respectful and conservative. Clothes for a funeral should communicate one’s mourning. Always keep in mind that one’s goal is not to project the focus on oneself. A good rule of thumb for any funeral attire is to dress as one would dress for a formal event, such as a business meeting or a church service. It doesn’t have to be flashy or attention-grabbing. It is advisable to pick and choose thoughtful, respectful, conservative, and courteous elements and consider the deceased’s family’s preference and not cause any offence.

With this being said, the support one offers the family at such an emotionally distressing time by merely attending the funeral is much more important than what one decides to wear. This is the only thing people will remember the deceased by for years to come. Thus one needs to make sure it’s meaningful and respectful to the dead and their loved ones.