In the past, the rules around what you should wear to a funeral were quite clear. Formal and black attire was expected. As times change, these are both still safe bets, but many families also feel comfortable with a more relaxed dress code. Business casual is now the most common attire seen at funerals.
There are also many funeral and memorial services where specific colours or attire is worn to commemorate the person who has passed. This could be a favourite sports jersey or a colour that corresponds with awareness for a particular cause or disease. If this is the case for the service you are attending, this information will usually be included in the obituary or shared with those anticipated to attend by the family.
Though there are many exceptions to the rules these days, there are still some simple do’s and don’ts that will help you to ensure that you are dressing appropriately and respectfully.
- Wear formal or business casual attire
- Unless otherwise specified, dark coloured clothing is the safest choice
- Avoid noisy and ostentatious jewelry
- Choose weather appropriate footwear if you will be outside during any part of the service
- Consider the deceased and their family to get a sense of what might be the right choice
- Consider the venue where the service is being held. A church, funeral home, restaurant or beach will all suggest different attire options
- Consider the culture of the family hosting the funeral. Some Asian cultures prefer white and in some African cultures, red and black are the norm. If the funeral is for someone with a distinct cultural background, it is perfectly acceptable to ask a family member if there is preferred attire.
- Opt for jeans only if they would be considered business casual to the other attendees. If you are unsure at all, opt for dress pants or slacks
- Ask if you are unsure of a choice that you worry will offend
- Wear overly casual clothing such as athletic wear, sandals or t-shirts (unless requested)
- Wear bright, bold coloured clothing or wild prints (unless requested)
- Choose clothes you might wear to a party. This includes sparkly or revealing clothing
- Wear high heels to a cemetery interment
- Overdo it with fragrances. It’s a good idea to avoid them entirely in case they were to cause an allergic reaction for another guest
- Assume you should veer from safe choices (dark & formal/business attire) unless you know the family well or have been specifically requested to do so
The world we live in is becoming increasingly casual but a funeral is rarely the time for it. Err on the side of caution by dressing in a way that shows respect for the person who has passed away and their family. Do not draw attention to yourself with bold, very informal or revealing clothing. Instead, choose attire that allows the focus to be on the life being remembered and showing support for the family.
You can find more information on common funeral questions in our FAQ’s section.