Funerals are some of the most formal events you’ll ever attend in your life, and formal clothing is often layered, making it exhausting to wear in the summer. On top of the emotional anguish, we have to go through at funerals, overheating can really be too much.
Because of this, many people wonder what to wear to a funeral in the summer, and in today’s article, we’ll be taking a look at a few options.
Options for Men
Men have it worse when it comes to funeral dressing. A traditional funeral outfit includes a black suit and a black or white shirt, usually with a black tie.
Making Changes to the Suit
This is incredibly uncomfortable during the summer (speaking from experience). The suit jacket suddenly becomes too much and you start sweating extensively, while the tie makes it difficult to breathe, making it feel like you’re suffocating.
The shoes don’t help either, as you feel like your feet are swelling and an uncomfortable pressure builds up.
Because it’s so uncomfortable to wear suits during the summer, lightweight, but still somewhat formal options are generally accepted.
In most places, it’s okay to lose the tie and you can only wear the suit without the tie (if that’s acceptable to you, temperature-wise), but you can also lose the jacket and simply wear pants and a black shirt.
Wearing black pants and a white shirt isn’t recommended as white isn’t really acceptable at funerals. When you wear a suit, the white shirt is part of the ensemble and it’s mostly covered by the jacket, but if you wear it without a jacket, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
So, the suit alteration you can make is wearing black pants with a black shirt and black shoes. Wearing a white shirt instead of a black shirt is a no-go.
To make it easier on your feet, you can try out black trainers, as there are now semi-formal sneakers that are often worn with suits.
Although a lot of people are still on the fence about how formal this is (since they’re still sneakers, while traditionally only shoes are worn with suits), you’re going to have to judge how acceptable it is on your own.
Also, think about getting a lightweight suit – although they’re more expensive, there are suits made from breathable materials that are very easy to wear. These can be difficult to find in retail, so you might have to need them bespoke.
Combinations Without a Suit
No one’s going to start a witch hunt if you don’t wear unbreathable pants and shoes to a mid-summer funeral. You can go with a simpler and more comfortable combination.
One such combination includes polo shirts. Buy a completely black polo shirt and put on black pants (even beige and grey pants can go with that – although they’re not black, they’re still classy).
This combination is not super formal like a full-on suit, so you can wear both shoes and the aforementioned semi-formal sneakers.
Another similar combination includes the same pants, but a shirt with rolled-up sleeves. People often overlook this option, but rolling your sleeves up isn’t considered improper in this scenario.
If you opt for this, you might be forced to wear shoes, though, as slacks (suit pants) and a shirt are mostly formal.
Lastly, remember that while sunglasses and hats are considered rude if there’s no need for them, they’re okay to wear during the summer, especially if it’s very sunny.
Options for Women
When the weather allows it, women can wear almost any piece of clothing to a funeral, as long as it’s black.
You’ll often see women in dresses, skirts, trousers, jumpers, jumpsuits, and blouses. As long as it’s not a simple t-shirt, it’s okay to wear it to a funeral.
This, however, changes as the temperatures rise.
Skirts and Dresses
Skirts and dresses, especially light ones, can be lifesavers when it comes to summer funerals.
There are a few important things to remember. First, the skirt/dress has to be black or dark. It also has to be of appropriate length (usually below the knees or just above the knees), and it can’t be too revealing at the chest.
A higher neckline is also desirable, while shoulders can be completely uncovered – the straps can be as wide or as thin as you want. Dresses with covered shoulders are also okay, but you’ll definitely be more comfortable with uncovered shoulders because of the heat.
Pants, Jumpsuits, and Tops
Pants, no matter how formal they are, can be very difficult to wear during the summer. Dresses and skirts are most definitely superior to them as they’re breathable.
However, there are light and airy pants and pantsuits with more free space and you can wear them if you’ll feel more comfortable. Pair them with simple blouses.
Blouses should be loose – this has nothing to do with style but with the fact that you’ll feel like you’re on fire if you put on a tight blouse. You can wear blouses that cover the arms or blouses with shoulder straps and no arm covers, both are acceptable.
Shoes and Accessories
Many people find shoes to be the biggest problem because many things are found inappropriate. Both flats and heels are appropriate, but sandals and sneakers are rarely seen as okay.
Any open shoe is unacceptable for both men and women, no matter how hot it is, as funerals are highly conservative conventions. When it comes to heels, they shouldn’t be too high – a few inches are more than enough to be formal.
When it comes to accessories; sunglasses, hats, bags, and clutches are okay. Watches and rings are also appropriate, but a necklace shouldn’t be drawing too much attention, nor should bracelets. ‘Fun’ and casual earrings that you’d wear on a night out aren’t recommended.
If possible, wear dark accessories – watches are particularly capable of drawing attention as they’re much larger than earrings and necklaces. Although no one is going to mind a silver watch, wearing a black one is a nice touch.
What Not to Wear to a Funeral in the Summer
There are a few things that you should absolutely avoid. Not only because it’s not appropriate for funerals, but because you’ll be grossly uncomfortable in them.
Colors are, simply put, unacceptable at funerals. Wearing anything other than black to a funeral is like wearing a white dress to a wedding. Black is worn as it symbolizes mourning and wearing any other color shows that a person didn’t care enough to put on appropriate clothes.
Of course, dark colors are generally accepted – nobody’s going to have a problem with dark grey, brown, or blue, while red is also often accepted.
However, colors like yellow, green, light blue, purple, and pink are extremely inappropriate.
It’s general knowledge that the color black attracts more sunlight than white, but that’s still not a reason to wear white or similar colors.
Jeans and Revealing Clothing
Many people believe that jeans can be worn to formal occasions if they’re worn properly – those people are wrong. Jeans are casual clothing, appropriate for many occasions, but a funeral is not one of them.
It doesn’t matter if you’ll wear a black shirt with a black blazer on top – jeans aren’t formal.
Secondly, revealing clothing is also unacceptable.
For men, revealing clothing includes sleeveless shirts (admittedly, this is rarely seen) and shorts. Even if they’re ‘formal’ black shorts – they’re still not formal enough for a funeral.
Women have it a bit more difficult as they have breasts, but cleavage should be minimal. Just like with men’s shorts, dresses and skirts that end too high above the knee are too revealing for a funeral. They should end right above the knee or under that line.
Patterns and Accessories
No matter where you are, shirts with large patterns aren’t acceptable. For example, a black shirt with large white flowers is too joyful (even if the funeral is in Hawaii) and it’s not appropriate even if the base color is black.
However, subtle patterns are okay if they’re not too obvious (for example, off-black patterns on a black dress).
When it comes to accessories, hats and sunglasses are okay during the summer. However, it’s customary that they’re taken off when you come inside the funeral home or a religious institution.
Hats (especially beanies) are unacceptable if they’re worn as a fashion piece, not as a head cover to warm the head up or protect you from the sun.
Funerals in the summer can be much more exhausting than funerals in the spring or the fall because of the temperature. Dressing up is also more difficult, but lighter combinations can minimize stress.
For men, remember that it’s okay to ditch the suit and simply stick with slacks and a shirt, while women can wear skirts and dresses, as well as pants with blouses. It’s also important to remind yourself of the casual clothes that have no place at a funeral.