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What NOT to Wear to a Funeral: Tips and Advice

8 min read

Søren Kierkegaard, often regarded as the first existentialist philosopher (amongst many other things) once said, “Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards.” Funerals may mark the end of a beloved’s life but it also is a reminder that life is short and we must make each day count. We must pay our respects to the deceased but continue moving forward, maybe even according to the ideologies and code set by the one we have lost. 

Despite being invariably symbolized as darkest and gloomiest days, funerals do require people to dress a certain way because it is an assembly of friends, family and closed ones to honor and bid farewell to the departed soul in the best and most honest way possible. We’re sharing with you today some of the fundamental do’s and don’ts for an occasion as sad yet important as a funeral.

What Not to Wear to a Funeral: Tips for Women

While the basic and most comprehensive aesthetic advice for a funeral is to dress in a subtle, subdued and classic manner there are however a number of things, which if you’re a woman, you should definitely avoid. The list includes,

Bright Colors

Be it sundresses or formal button-down shirts, if the color is too bright or neon it is a complete no-no for a funeral. Bright colors are typically associated with liveliness and freshness whereas funerals are formal closure ceremonies and wearing something too bright gives the impression that you do not understand the grief which the affected family is going through.

Heavy Jewellery

Shiny, clattering or bold jewellery items that are usually considered fashion statements are again something which you must avoid while going to a funeral. It is a ceremony of mourning and even if you weren’t very close to the deceased, giving an impression that you are there only out of obligation is the last thing you want for the family.

Short Dresses and Skirts

Another important thing to remember is that unlike a beach or poolside party, funerals are just not the places to flaunt our skin. Hence shirts and blouses should cover the cleavage, shoulders and neck(nape) while pants and skirts should fall at least to the knees and must not be too tight.

Glitter

Like bright and neon clothes, glittery fabric or embroidery might draw too much attention to you rather than the deceased. The funeral is about paying homage to the lost soul hence like every other occasion one must dress accordingly.

Shoe Choices

Sneakers, flip flops or even stilettos are not wise choices for a funeral. Sneakers and flip flops might look too casual and give the impression that you’d rather be somewhere else (ie. a playfield or maybe at home), Whereas stilettos, though often considered a formal choice may cause discomfort for you. Funerals are often held outdoors and may involve grassy or unpaved grounds, sharp heels would make it difficult for you to walk and navigate your way through the crowd.

What Not to Wear to a Funeral: Tips for Men

While as a male dressing is much easier than females, there are however quite a few don’ts which the masculine race must consider when going to a funeral. Here’s a list of what not to wear to a funeral:

Vibrant Ties

Printed or sharp colored ties may not be the smartest of choices for a funeral as they give a rather cold feel at a funeral. If you have to go to a funeral directly from somewhere else and the vibrant tie is your only option, then it’s better to simply remove the garment than keeping it on.

Printed Shirts

Shirts bearing graphical imagery, logos or even a quote is something to avoid wearing to a ceremony as melancholic as a funeral. As in the case of vibrant ties, if such shirts are the only option then it is always wise to don a jacket or cardigan over it making the outfit more respectful and subdued.

Shorts and Jeans

As cool as denim might look, it just is not formal enough for a funeral so save your favorite pair of jeans for the next hangout and switch to something more formal instead. Also, like women, is it also advisable for men not to bare skin. So avoid wearing shorts no matter how warm the weather might be.

Sleeveless Vests or Athletic Tank Tops

Just as the case with shorts, vests and tank tops are a complete NO for a funeral. No matter how many times we say it, the fact that funerals require one to dress respectfully, earnestly and thoughtfully can not be overstated.

Bright Colored Socks

You may be the person who enjoys experimenting with your socks in terms of the color and print, but funerals necessitate that one opts for blunt colors and patterns even in socks. As tempted as you might be to don your red or green pair of socks thinking they might not even be visible, we recommend you chose the plain or striped black ones instead.

Ripped, Baggy Cuts

Funerals are not the right places to make fashion statements. Hence, trends like ripped jeans, baggy sweatpants or washed out clothes are just not the go-to garments for the occasion.

More Things to Consider When Dressing for a Funeral

Our clothes are not the only thing that speaks about our attitude towards the event. Everything from maintaining a sober and graceful body language to use of kind comforting words matter. Besides deciding what not to wear to a funeral, one must be mindful about the following items when preparing for a burial.

Makeup

Heavy eye shadows, dark blushes or bold lipsticks are just NOT the makeup items for the day. Swap a BB cream for a foundation and a nude lipstick or gloss instead of your scarlet lip-shade when getting ready for the occasion. 

Accessories

When equipping yourself for a day of mourning we suggest you leave your expensive and particularly heavy jewellery items, fancy cufflinks, dog tags or chains and bracelets on your dressing table. One may, however, pair a delicate bracelet or a pair of small earrings to go with the dress, giving it a pristine and classy overall look.

Nails

While the French nails or black nail paint may be acceptable, ladies must avoid wearing sharp colors such as red or neon and applying fancy nail arts. 

What to Wear: Tips for Women

The most basic of tips is that you have to dress respectfully and avoid baring too much skin. A few suggestions are as follows,

Closed Toe Shoes

Flat pumps, low heels or wedges are ideal choices provided they are sober in color and matching or in contrast with your dress.

Black or Dull-coloured Clothes.

Previously people only use to wear black to funerals, over the recent years however, we’ve seen a change of trends. Even though some still prefer black but others do opt for other sober colors like shades of grey, blue or brown.  Long skirts with collared shirts, dresses, and pantsuits are all wise choices for ladies to don.

Hats

Hats are never a wrong choice. A low lying, simple hat that goes with the dress is a good choice as it may keep your hair from ruffling around if the wind decides to blow and not to mention it is considered a tradition in most customs.

What to Wear: Tips for Men

READ THE OBITUARY! This is a tip for not just men but women as well as it may save you the trouble of deciding what to wear or showing up being mismatched from the crowd and drawing too much attention to yourself. Often the family requests the attendees to dress a certain way in order to honor the deceased fellow and as a guest you might want to respect that.

Dress Shoes and Loafers

While sneakers and flip flops may feel comfortable dress shoes and loafers are better options as they present a more subtle and formal demeanor. Another important thing is to ensure that your shoes are well polished and clean.

Blazers and Coats

In the case of men, any outfit can be made formal by the addition of a well-tailored coat or blazer. A formal suit is often the most widely accepted and accessible choice for most men as it is the exact definition of formal attire. A funeral is no exception.

Button-down Dress Shirts and Sweaters

If you are from the chosen few who do not prefer suits, then pairing a formal button-down dress shirt of any of the sober colors (black, white, brown, grey or blue) with a tie and a sweater over it can be your go-to attire as it is often considered respectful and formal.

Muted Ties

Even though ties are not a mandatory part of the dress code for burials and funerals it is much appreciated in order to complete the formal look. One must, however, make sure that the color and print is not too bold.

BONUS:

Umbrella

Despite all the modern technologies it is impossible to predict the mood swings of our weather. It is thus a wise choice for both men and women to carry an umbrella with you in order to avoid getting drenched or developing a sunburn while you stand around the grave paying your last respects to the departed one. 

Conclusion 

Losing a loved one is a profound loss but like all occasions, a funeral marks the end of their journey in this world. Some people ignore advice about what not to wear to a funeral and this counts as disrespect towards the deceased. Just something to think about! 

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Written by Spencer K.

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