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Funeral Outfit Ideas: What to Wear at a Funeral

Funeral Outfit Ideas

This guide for what to wear at a funeral is geared for contemporary Western culture; other cultures may differ and vary considerably. Even within modern Western culture, there is quite a bit of variation and leeway.

At a more formal, traditional funeral, you may be expected to wear black dress clothes (buttoned suit for men, dress for women). At most funerals all that is expected is something nice in darker colors. For others, there is may be no expectation of dress at all, and for some non-traditional funerals (perhaps a “celebration of life” or a funeral for a cosplay enthusiast) you may be expected to dress in bright, celebratory colors or even in a superhero outfit.

However, most people at most funerals want to pay their respects to the deceased and the family by dressing in a way that communicates sympathy and mouring, so here is our collection of tips, guidelines, and ideas for what to wear at a funeral.

Funeral Outfit Ideas

Guidelines for what to wear at a funeral

General tips on clothing:

  • Black is a traditional color, always appropriate
  • Non-black clothing is generally acceptable, as long as it isn’t brightly colored
  • Shirts/dresses should cover up to the neck; no open collars
  • Pants/dresses should cover the knees; no shorts or miniskirts
  • No flip-flops or athletic shoes
  • In a casual setting, t-shirts may be appropriate – but avoid wild prints, logos, etc
  • Keep a formal jacket on hand; this basic addition can help make many outfits passable!

General tips on style:

  • Subdued style and colors; you do not want to attract attention away from the deceased
  • Style should be characterized as tasteful and conservative
  • Dress as you would for church or a job interview
  • Revealing attire is generally not appropriate; many traditions require shoulders and knees covered
  • Be considerate of any religious setting; i.e., some require hats for women and/or men
  • For information on funeral traditions of different religions, see here

Tips for men:

  • Dark suits or buttoned shirts are always appropriate
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, something with a collar
  • Wear a belt and tuck in shirt
  • Wear dress shoes or loafers
  • Avoid sneakers, athletic shoes, flip flops
  • Avoid jeans (though in many settings, dark jeans with tucked in shirt is acceptable)
  • Avoid shorts
  • Avoid baseball caps
  • Basic funeral oufit ideas:
    • Dress suit with tie
    • Slacks, polo shirt, belt
    • Slacks, button down shirt, tie
    • Slacks, button down shirt, vest
    • Slacks, button down shirt, blazer

Traditionally, appropriate attire for men attending a funeral has been a black, gray or dark blue suit with a collared shirt and tie. These days, however, it is quite acceptable to wear slacks and a blazer or sport coat instead of a suit, to omit the tie, or to opt for a collared golf shirt in place of a dress shirt or button-down. Colors are still usually subdued, but are no longer limited to black, gray and navy. When in doubt, it’s probably safe to choose more conservative options if you are concerned about being underdressed.

Dignity Memorial

Tips for women:

  • Dark dresses or suits are always appropriate
  • Keep shoulders covered
  • Skirts/dresses should reach the knees
  • Tasteful color accents can be acceptable
  • Avoid bright sun dresses
  • Avoid anything overly revealing
  • Basic funeral outfit ideas:
    • Skirt suit
    • Pant suit
    • Dress
    • Skirt and blouse
    • Skirt and sweater
    • Pants and top with sleeves

Traditional attire for women called for a black suit, conservative dress or skirt and blouse. These days, appropriate options are much more varied. While the clothing should still be respectful and not distracting from the service, it is acceptable to wear bright or light colors, and business casual separates as opposed to a suit. Dresses are common, with color replacing the traditional solid black.

Dignity Memorial

Funeral outfit ideas for women

Here we have a simple, modern black dress with black boots and warm hat, with appropriate splashes of color in the accessories:

Simple black dress with sleeves

Three variations on the contemporary knee-length black dress, with complimenting shoes and bags. Note that the style of these funeral outfits is airy and attractive, yet the shoulders are covered and the necklines are appropriate for the occasion:

Ideas for what to wear to a funeral

Here is an outfit designed for an outdoor funeral service. The hat and umbrella are a good idea for colder weather, the the light dress works perfectly with the pea coat. Add gloves to warm the hands, and the jewelry adds an antique sensibility appropriate for a traditional funeral.

Funeral outfit ideas

Here we have an example of appropriate yet stylish funeral attire in varied colors. The vintage style is a tribute to restraint rather than excess, with muted brown and navy blue tones.

What to wear to a funeral

The “little black dress” is a funeral staple, for good reason. A classic look, always appropriate, perfectly accessorized with simple necklace and earrings.

What to wear at a funeral

Here is a more contemporary professional look, an example of the ideal skirt and blouse combo:

Skirt and Blouse Outfit for Funeral

The simple black dress can always be accented with a bit of muted color, like the tan shawl and heels in this funeral outfit:

Plus Size Funeral Outfit

Little Miss Funeral is a blog run by a young funeral professional who loves fashion. Lots of great ideas for what to wear at a funeral, especially if you will be attending in a working/professional capacity. Here is the time-honored black coat with scarf, black dress and tights, with fur-lined heeled boots:

Funeral Outfits Cold Weather

And here is a “casual dressy” look which utilizes a light gray cotton dress, black tights, and black shoes:

Funeral Outfits

If you know the occasion will have something of  a contemporary-casual feel, here is a good look that bridges the gap between dressy and casual. The darker colors help retain a sense of solemnity, while the floral patterned dress and green sweater provide a comfortable yet conservative look.

Casual dressy outfit for funeral

If you need to make jeans work, choose a darker pair and be sure to accent them with dressy neutral or earth tones, like the outfit here:

Funeral Outfit Ideas with Jeans

Shopping resources:

Funeral outfit ideas for men

Starting off with the classic look of the traditional black suit and tie:

Funeral Suit for Men

Here is the traditional look with a little modern flair thrown in by substituting a black shirt:

Men's Funeral Outfits

If you don’t have a formal black suit available, the next best option is the suit you do have. Below is a classy charcoal suit with gray shirt and tie:

Men's Funeral Outfit

If you don’t have a suit, go with the classic, time-honored dress shirt and tie. Again, stick with darker colors, black pants if at all possible:

Shirt, tie, and black slacks

Now we’ll get into some dressy casual looks which will be appropriate for most funerals. Here is a nice combination of black chinos, a charcoal blazer, and dress shirt:

Funeral Attire for Men

If you’d like to make jeans work for attending a funeral or memorial service, try to class it up as much as possible. Here the jeans are dark, and balanced nicely with a sweater and tie:

What to wear at a funeral

For most contemporary funerals here in the USA, a respectful casual look will not look out of place. Khakis or dress pants paired with a collared shirt and sweater is a good standard:

What to wear to a funeral

Or, for warmer climes, go with a vest instead of the sweater. You can go with or without the tie; but with is definitely the superior option:

Men's Funeral Outfit

Resources

14 thoughts on “Funeral Outfit Ideas: What to Wear at a Funeral

  1. Mmm… so much to choose from

  2. […] Funeral Outfits: What to Wear at a Funeral […]

  3. What about outerwear? Is a neutral/tan coat over a black dress appropriate for an immediate family?

    Thanks.

  4. Hi Clarice,

    Yes, non-flashy outerwear is nearly always appropriate.

    Thanks for your comment!

  5. What if I have a haltered styled dress and my shoulders are out? Do you think that’s inappropriate? I’m bringing a cardigan just incase.

  6. I was going to wear a knee length black dress with flats to my Grandmas funeral.Could I wear nylons with this outfit? Thank you!

  7. Hi Jennifer,

    Yes, nylons with a knee length black dress would be very appropriate.

    Thank you,
    Daniel

  8. I’d suggest arriving with the cardigan, then take a look around and see how the rest of the attendees are dressed, play it by ear. But perhaps more importantly, who is the funeral for? If it is for an older person and a more traditional crowd, you may want to show the family respect by wearing the cardigan no matter what others are doing.

  9. Attending a younger cousin’s wedding in Atlanta. Would you recommend a dark gray suit or dark gray vest with dress shirt and tie?

  10. Both would be acceptable for most occasions. The suit is obviously the more formal choice; so check with what others are wearing and/or what you know about the family or venue. If in doubt, go with the more formal option (suit). Funerals are definitely an occasion where dressing ‘up’ is the side to err on.

  11. My Pops funeral is tomorrow and I was wondering if a black turtleneck with gray and white stripes would be okay. If not, would a dress that is black with a tan silky dress underneath to show through holes in the dress be okay?

  12. Sounds perfect, good choices!

    Daniel

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