It’s important to pay attention to your attire when it comes to attending a memorial or funeral service. Today we’ll discuss what you shouldn’t wear to a funeral to avoid affecting the tone of the whole event.
Funerals are sober occasions, and you need to follow modest attire that doesn’t draw attention. Following proper funeral etiquette will be seen as a sign of respect for the deceased and support to the grieving family.
While the choice of clothes can vary based on the specific wishes of the person who passed away, religion, and culture, you should be conservative. Ideally, you should wear something that doesn’t offend family members and attendees.
In this article, we’ll discuss in detail what not to wear to a funeral, along with tips that you can follow to dress up appropriately.
What Not To Wear To A Funeral?
It can be difficult to decide what to wear while going to attend a funeral, especially if you have never attended any such events before.
While you should keep the cultural and religious background of the deceased’s family in mind, you must never wear any of the following to a funeral, in most cases.
1. Revealing Outfits
It’s critically important not to wear revealing attires that can draw the attention of other people. It can be difficult to decide what’s considered revealing, as it can vary from person to person.
But you shouldn’t wear anything that you wouldn’t wear while going for a professional job interview. The following are some common examples of revealing clothes that are inappropriate for a funeral.
Short hemlines and miniskirts are very fashionable and they don’t have any place at a memorial or funeral service. You can wear a skirt that’s above your knees but you need to avoid skirts that reveal too much, especially when you bend down.
You can also use a pair of tights with your skirt to add an extra layer of modesty to your attire.
It’s also not advisable to wear low-cut dresses and blouses, just like mini-skirts. Keep in mind that many funerals usually take place in a worship place and you need to respect that. Other than low-cut attire, you should also avoid dresses that have thin spaghetti straps.
Wearing tight dresses may be appropriate for parties and celebrations but they’re not for a funeral service. You should avoid a tight dress even if you’re planning to pair it with something that looks professional.
Ideally, you should wear loose and less revealing fabric that you like to wear for formal functions. Again, if you can’t wear it for a professional job interview, it’s not the right choice for a funeral or memorial service.
2. Bright Colors
A funeral is not the time to wear wild prints and bright colors, and you should choose something subdued. While wearing attention-grabbing clothes for parties can be good, they’re not meant for funerals and other sad events.
3. Graphic T-Shirts
Wearing graphic t-shirts, with vibrant visuals, images, and writing is also not a good idea, as they can cause distraction at memorial and funeral services. You should avoid wearing even simple t-shirts if it’s not specifically requested by the family of the deceased.
Funerals are formal events, so you should wear formal attire as well. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing a dress shirt, consider wearing a polo as it’ll be far better than a t-shirt. Additionally, choose modest and neutral colors.
4. Athletic Wear
Attending a funeral is all about paying respect to the person who has passed away and showing your support and love to the family. It’s not a casual event and wearing athletic wear won’t be appreciated.
As mentioned, proper funeral attire is something similar to what you wear at a formal business meeting. Some of the athletic and casual clothing that you must avoid include tank tops, yoga pants, casual hats, baseball caps, workout shorts, leggings, sweatshirts, and tennis shoes.
Wearing such items will be disrespectful to the grieving family and it’ll also give an impression that you’re not taking the event seriously.
You should also steer clear of hoodies, joggers, and sweatpants. If you feel comfortable wearing jeans, consider using plain and neutral colors and pair them with a blazer and collared shirt/polo.
5. Controversial Clothing
You don’t want to use a funeral service to reclaim your social and political views. Make sure that you avoid all types of controversial clothing even if the grieving family agrees with you. There will be a lot of people at the funeral and they’ll find it disrespectful.
They’ll already be distressed and such clothing will make them more disturbed and depressed. Controversial items that you should avoid wearing include hats, caps, sweatshirts, and t-shirts with political, social, and religious messages and slogans.
6. Glittery Clothing
It’s important not to wear shiny and glittery items such as flashy metallic fabrics and sequins. Such dresses can cause distraction during a funeral ceremony.
Keep in mind that there is no specific dress code that you need to follow if it’s not mentioned by the deceased’s family. You can attend a funeral straight from your workplace if you’re wearing a modest dress.
7. Flashy Accessories
Just like glittery clothing, flashy accessories can also distract other attendees. The flashy items that you should avoid include large hoop earrings, bright jewelry, big necklaces, and shiny purses.
Not only do these items draw attention but they can also be seen as bumptious and boastful.
While you can wear sunglasses if the event is taking place outdoors or while going to a cemetery, you must never wear them indoors. In simple words, you should avoid anything that will stand you out.
8. Strong Perfumes
Although cologne or perfume can complement your outfit, wearing strong ones to a funeral isn’t advisable. We recommend you avoid using perfume in the first place if possible.
That’s because some people are allergic to some scents and you can encounter such a person at a funeral. Not only will it embarrass them but it can also put you in an awkward position.
9. High Heels
High heels (stiletto heels) aren’t only inappropriate for funerals but can also be impractical as you may need to change venues.
For example, some funeral services take place at a funeral home or a place of worship, and then attendees need to go to the local cemetery.
If you’re wearing thin or long heels, you’ll find it difficult to change venues easily. So consider wearing thicker and lower heels that look modest and allow you to walk conveniently.
10. Casual Shoes
You don’t want to wear casual footwear like slip-on shoes and flip-flops while going to a funeral. Although they feel extremely comfortable, they’re not formal and will give the impression that you’re not serious about the funeral. You can opt for classic dress shoes that will look decent and feel comfortable.
Tips to Dress Up for a Funeral Appropriately
The following are some of the most important tips that you can use to dress up for a funeral properly.
Read the Obituary Carefully
It’s important to read the obituary carefully before choosing your outfit for the funeral. That’s because some families specify what attendees should wear to a funeral.
If you find instructions, consider following them strictly even if they go against traditional funeral attire.
For example, if a family of the deceased has requested the guests to wear bright colors you must follow it. It won’t look odd or bad because all the other attendees will also be following the same dress code.
It will give the grieving family comfort during the hard time as they’ll see that everyone is honoring their loved one. People mention the attire for a funeral to honor the deceased based on their wishes or likenesses.
Take Religion Into Account
Different religions follow different customs, especially when it comes to attire for a funeral. If you need to attend a funeral of a religious family, make sure that you wear something that doesn’t go against their religion.
You can consult the funeral director to determine what type of clothing will be most appropriate. For example, if you’re going to a Chinese funeral, you can wear a white dress.
Wearing red at such funerals won’t be the right choice as the red color shows happiness in most Asian cultures.
If you need to attend a Buddhist funeral, you’ll need to wear black. However, the family of the deceased will be wearing white as per their custom.
Consider Colors Wisely
Black is the most common color that people wear while attending a funeral in the United States. But you can also choose blue and dark gray, or other neutral dark colors as they’re also as appropriate as wearing black.
If you’re wearing a suit, make sure that you choose a pocket square with an appropriate color as well.
Aim for shades, such as gray and navy blue. As mentioned earlier, you must avoid clothes with bright and vibrant colors as they’re inappropriate funeral attire.
Keep The Location Of Funeral In Mind
It’s also important to consider the location of the funeral service. If it’s taking place in the funeral home, then you can wear solid-colored jeans and a polo.
However, if it’s happening in a place of worship like a church, make sure that you wear formal attire. It should be conservative and modest and make you look decent.
Considering the weather will help you choose comfortable funeral attire. For example, you need to choose lightweight and airy clothing during summer, while sticking to the guidelines that we have discussed above.
It’ll help you stay cool, comfortable, and respectful. During winter, you can pair your dress pants or skirts with jackets to stay warm.
Some other factors will also affect the way you dress for a funeral. For example, if you need to attend a veteran’s funeral, you can wear a military uniform.
Some cultures celebrate funerals, like some communities in New Orleans, Mexico, Ghana, Madagascar, and Bali.
While they feel the sorrow of losing their loved ones, they don’t count a funeral as an end-of-life event. They believe their loved one has started a new life and that they should celebrate it. People following such cultures usually ask attendees to dress up in a more festive or upbeat manner.
Lastly, you can simply ask one of the family members about what to wear if they follow a unique culture. It’ll allow you to dress up appropriately, which will give them comfort and show your support and love.
What Is The Most Disrespectful Thing To Wear To A Funeral?
Wearing casual, fashionable, revealing, or athletic clothing to a funeral will be considered disrespectful.
Vibrant and bright colors and glittery and shiny items are also inappropriate for such an event. It’ll give an impression to the grieving family that you’re not taking their loss seriously.
What Colors Shouldn’t You Wear To A Funeral?
Black is the most common color at funerals in the United States. However, if you don’t like black, you can also go with other dark and neutral colors, such as brown, gray, and blue.
Is There a Dress Code For Funerals?
No, there is no universal dress code that you can follow for a funeral. Some families mention the funeral attire in the obituary; if they do, that will be your dress code. If it’s not there, you’ll need to consider the religion and cultural background of the family and choose conservative and modest attire.
Is It Disrespectful To Not Wear Black At A Funeral?
No, it’s not disrespectful unless it’s requested by the grieving family. You can wear any dark neutral color that doesn’t draw the attention of other visitors.
Choosing appropriate attire for a funeral is important to show love and support to the family that lost their loved one. Your attire should show that you made an effort to show your respect for family members and the deceased.
We hope this guide will help you understand what not to wear to a funeral. Make sure you also use the tips above to dress up appropriately before attending a funeral service.