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In most social occasions, you dress to create an impression and to stand out from the crowd, so that your fashion sense becomes a talking point of the party.
In funerals, however, the goal is to blend in with the rest of the crowd and partake in solemn remembrance of the deceased. You’re there to pay your respects and should dress appropriately. The only reason not to do so is if it was the expressed wishes of the deceased or their family, that you wear a certain color or wear bright colors for example. Be guided by the wishes of the family and dress according to their wishes.
If the funeral is held during the winter months, this can be difficult and you must mix being respectful and remaining warm. Funerals may continue for some time and much of that may be spent outside so you must dress for an extended external period.
If there are children in your group be mindful of the fact that being smaller they lose body heat faster than an adult and therefore will become cold quicker. Ensure they are dressed up warmly and if possible keep them inside so they don’t become too cold.
Here are a few tips:
Black winter dress-coat
Funerals often happen with little notice, and they can occur at any time. It might be worth having clothing in your closet suitable for such an occasion so you don’t have to worry about searching for something at an already difficult time.
The foremost of them is a black dress coat or a black winter coat. Everyone should have at least one of these in the wardrobe. If it’s freezing, a woolen peacoat will keep the cold at bay, and if it looks like, it will rain or snow, consider getting something with a rain resistant fabric.
Trench coats or long double-breasted jackets are ideal for these purposes. Keep the color dark and unremarkable. If you don’t have black or if it’s at the cleaners, wear dark, navy blue. Make sure it’s as dark as possible, so you don’t stand out in a crowd of people who are all wearing black.
There are several accessories which make up a funeral dress. You would choose what accessories to wear, depending on the weather. Here are a few ideas:
Keep an eye on the weather forecast for the day. If it says rain or snow, definitely carry an umbrella. Wet hair at a funeral would not be welcome either by you as it might make you could, nor by the grieving relatives. So, carry a small folded umbrella in your purse or a tote.
Gloves or mittens and scarves
If it’s cold and snowy, remember your gloves or mittens. The gloves should be black and traditional, unlike biker gloves. A scarf will also keep your neck warm and help you look more sophisticated and classy. Try to keep your scarf and any other winter clothing accessories simple and black or dark.
It’s okay to wear jewelry to a funeral as long as it’s not too gaudy or flashy. A string of pearls on your wrist over a black dress looks lovely. Avoid anything large, leave your statement pieces at home and go for simple studs or pearls. A funeral is not the place you to make a fashion statement unless that‘s what the deceased and or their family wants.
If the sunny weather is predicted or even if it’s not, consider hats and sunglasses. Traditional sunglasses like aviators are perfect for the occasion. Women should ideally aspire for the Jackie Kennedy look at her husband’s funeral. Keep it simple and not flashy.
It’s expected that at funerals, people might tear up and there will be a few red, swollen eyes. So sunglasses have come to be expected at most funerals.
It is perfectly acceptable to wear an understated dark colored hat to a funeral. But equally, it’s not typically expected that you wear one to most modern services. If the family has requested you wear a hat, keep it simple. Veils aren’t typically worn any more either so it‘s probably best to keep to a hat without a fussy veil unless that is what the family have requested.
If it is especially cold, it would be understandable to wear a hat or a head covering which provides warmth and protects you from snow or rain (for rain an umbrella is a better option than a hat as it will keep more of your body, and possibly somebody else’s too, dry). Take a tote with you and put your scarf, gloves or mittens and hat inside so you aren‘t bundled up with lots of awkward things to carry. Leave it with the coat check or tuck it into a corner for safe keeping.
You might be standing around for some time, often outside, so it’s important your shoes are comfortable and weatherproof.
Closed footwear in a dark color is ideal for the occasion. Consider either flats or moderately elevated ones. Remember, you want to dress modestly. Men should wear dark (preferably black) dress shoes.
Suits and blazers
Back in the day, men used to wear full suits with a collared shirt and a tie. While that’s still the most conventional choice, it has become acceptable to wear a blazer or a sports coat along with slacks. You can even ditch the tie if you want to if you’re wearing a blazer.
Stick to dark colors in conventional styles that don‘t stand out from the crowd too much. Be sensitive to the family’s wishes concerning the colors and sort of dress they wish other mourners to wear.
However, it’s unacceptable to wear jeans; as is wearing a shirt which hasn’t been appropriately ironed and has creases or tears in it. More than anything, it’s essential you look presentable and put together.
Dresses and skirts
Women should wear a black suit or a longer style traditional dress. If you’re wearing dresses, be sure to pair them up with dark black leggings or stockings. While it is okay to wear lighter shades of black, it‘s more appropriate to wear darker ones.
Your outfit can also comprise a blouse and a long skirt which reaches up to the knees at least. Try to show as less skin as possible as this is a somber occasion. What this means is that you wear nothing which is backless, has plunging necklines, or has slits down its length.
If the dress is too “body-hugging” and stresses your figure, that is out of bounds. If you must, then complement your outfit with subtle accessories like a belt, or subtle jewelry.
Remember to layer your dresses with a cardigan, a blazer or a shawl. The funeral might take place both indoors and outdoors, or you might come indoors for meals and socializing with the family and relatives. Depending on the situation, you can add or remove layers when the need arises.
Keep your makeup simple and natural, nude lips, a touch of blush and a swish of mascara are all that‘s really needed. Remember to carry your compact and tissues so you can touch up your makeup as needed.
Simple eyeliner, kohl pencil, mascara, and nude lips are more than sufficient. Makeup techniques like contouring which keeps things simple are all right. Excessively smokey eyes, overtly glittery blush and bold lip shades are totally not acceptable.
It’s important to remember that the funeral you are attending is to honor the person you’ve lost, so keep things simple, classy and respectful. Where something which you feel comfortable in and layer it well so you don’t feel too cold while outside. Remember to bring a hat, gloves or mittens and a scarf too as standing inert beside a grave while you listen to the service, can become cold quickly.