Jeans are a staple in most people’s wardrobes. People spend anywhere from $20.00 – $300.00 on a nice pair of jeans, and they expect to be able to wear them to most functions. Especially in recent years.
Jeans are also acceptable to wear to the office at many companies (not just on “casual Friday.”)
I’ve even heard of funeral homes that allow the funeral director to dress in a nice pair of jeans and a collared shirt for the guys, and an appropriate blouse for the ladies.
When it comes to funeral attire, what is acceptable to wear will depend upon the region of the country, where the service is being conducted, the age of the deceased, the venue (funeral home, church, gymnasium, country club, etc.), the season — the list can go on.
If you do decide to don a pair of dungarees, the general rule of thumb is to avoid wearing bright colors (keep those Barbie pink jeans in the closet for this one). Try sticking to black clothing and darker colors like dark blues, chocolate brown, gray, etc.
As with most things in life, common sense should be used. Let’s get a little more in-depth, shall we?
Are Jeans Appropriate for a Funeral?
Jeans may be appropriate clothing for a traditional funeral service, a memorial service, a celebration of life service, or even a visitation.
If the family has not given a specific dress code or requested formal or business attire, then jeans should be fine to wear.
A word of advice, though. As a sign of respect, don’t wear baggy jeans, faded or ripped jeans, or distressed jeans.
Do make sure they fit you nicely and are pulled up and sitting on your waist. Preferably with a nice belt to keep them in place.
Ladies, don’t wear embellished jeans with rhinestones or embroidery on them. It’s a good idea to make sure they fit you nicely, and not too tightly.
Again, they should be in dark colors — indigo or black jeans. Nothing with patches sewn on them, either. Jeans or not, you should try to look your best as this is a somber occasion.
How to Dress Up Your Jeans for a Funeral
If you aren’t requested to wear formal attire, as stated above, choose a dark colored pair of jeans.
Below are a few suggestions for “dressing up” your jeans to wear as a funeral outfit:
- A nice dress belt at the appropriate waist height — no baggy pants hanging down. This look is inappropriate at the best of times, and not appropriate attire for a funeral.
- A button-down shirt with a collar (dark gray, navy, or a black shirt would be good choices)
- Long-sleeved shirt with cufflinks
- A nice blazer or dark-colored suit jacket
- Wear a tie: classic or bowtie
- A pair of dress shoes or nice boots — if you must wear athletic shoes, make sure they are new and clean.
- If you are wearing dress shoes, wear a nice pair of dress socks as well.
- A hat — if appropriate. Gentlemen, please remember the proper funeral etiquette is to always remove your hat upon entering the venue (especially if it is a place of worship). This small gesture shows your respect for the family and the deceased.
- If you are going to wear jewelry, don’t be ostentatious or showy.
- Always have your hair and facial hair trimmed and clean
- A dressy blouse that buttons up or has a reserved, formal feeling to it.
- Black high heels — not too high — or a nice pair of dress shoes or boots
- If you are wearing heels or dress shoes, wear appropriate hose or stockings
- A nice blazer or dark suit jacket
- A hat — if appropriate. Ladies, you do not have to remove your hat upon entering the venue.
- Your jewelry should be limited to your wedding rings and one or two of the following:
- Tennis bracelet
- Diamond stud earrings
- Small gold or silver bracelet
- Small religious jewelry piece
- Limit your selection of jewelry so it is nothing too distracting
- Make sure your hair is neat and clean
- Wear your makeup in a clean, reserved look with muted color
Here are some options to check out for both men and women:
Alternatives to Wearing Jeans at a Funeral
If you don’t have a black suit or a black dress in your closet, and jeans are not an option, there are other alternatives for funeral clothes that are available to you:.
- A pair of dress pants in dark colors — navy blue, dark brown, or gray
- A dress coat
- A vest
- A cardigan or nice fitting sweater in conservative colors (avoid loud patterns)
- A sport coat
- Khakis or chino-type black pants
- A polo shirt
- A turtle neck
- A skirt — gray, espresso, dark maroon, or navy blue
What Not to Wear to a Funeral
There are a few clothing choices women should never wear to a funeral or any other solemn event:
- Mini skirt
- Low-cut sweater or blouse — please don’t show cleavage. It is so inappropriate and flies in the face of proper etiquette for a funeral.
- Tight clothing, especially spandex
- Animal print
- Strong perfume
And gentlemen, here are a few things you should not wear to a funeral:
- Baseball cap
- Athletic wear
- Graphic tees
- Heavy gold chain necklace
- Cut offs or shorts
- Flip flops
At the end of the day, just put some thought into it.
Remember, you will probably be bending over to talk to people, shaking hands, leaning in for hugs, kisses, and talking.
You don’t want to be showing too much skin (mini skirts and cleavage), knocking someone in the head with a piece of jewelry (heavy chain and pendant), or offending anyone with a strong scent (too much cologne or perfume).
What is the Best Dress Code for Funerals?
You can never go wrong in wearing your “Sunday Best” as the traditional dress code for a funeral service.
If you aren’t from a religious background, think of how you would dress up for a business meeting or job interview at a really high-end company. It doesn’t have to be a three-piece suit or an evening gown, but you want to convey to the family how much you respected the deceased.
Stick to somber, darker colors, and make sure your clothes are clean and in good repair.
Remember, when attending a service it is always appropriate to keep the attention off of yourself.
This is a time of honor and respect directed toward the family of the deceased. This doesn’t only apply to your clothing, but also to how you conduct yourself.
That means not being too loud or boisterous when greeting people, not crying loudly, not taking up too much time when speaking with the bereaved family, etc. Offer your condolences and let the next person in line do the same.
The most important thing to the family members is that you are there. They are going through a very difficult time and your support is welcomed. Show them love and respect, and they will appreciate your presence more than anything else.
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