Order of service in the hands of family

What to wear at a funeral

If you’ve not attended a funeral before, you may be wondering what you should wear and what you should avoid wearing. Read our guide for practical advice and tips.

Traditionally, black or dark coloured formal clothing is worn to a funeral, but this isn’t always the case as more families move away from tradition and opt for a celebration of life with bright colours. Before you decide what to wear to a funeral, it’s always important to find out from the family if they have any particular wishes or colours that they’d like people to wear as part of their outfit.

Funeral outfits: Ideas for women

If you’re attending a traditional funeral, you’ll want to stick to formal clothes in dark colours. This doesn’t have to be black – it could be grey or burgundy, for example – but it should be something that doesn’t take attention away from the purpose of the day. Dresses or skirts / trousers and a top are all typically worn, but bear in mind that traditional funerals tend to be modest so consider hemlines and cuts that make you feel comfortable. Any jewellery and makeup should be understated and if you’re wearing a hat, it’s worth bearing in mind whether it could stop the person sat behind you from seeing the service.

Here are a few ideas for women:

  • A dark coloured skirt or trousers with a plain coloured blouse and blazer style jacket
  • A dark coloured dress – either knee length or long – with dark tights
  • A plain jumper with dark trousers and a smart dark coloured coat

Funeral outfits: Ideas for men

Men’s funeral outfits tend to be less varied, and most tend to stick to a dark or black suit with a white shirt, plain dark tie, and black polished shoes. If you don’t have a suit, you could pair dark trousers with a long-sleeved shirt, black tie, and a smart black coat. Shoes should be dark, smart, and polished. Looking smart is key, so avoid wearing anything casual, like short-sleeved shirts, jeans, or trainers.

What to wear at a summer funeral

If the funeral is taking place on a hot day, you’ll need to consider this and make sure you’ll be comfortable in the clothes you choose. Try and find outfits in more breathable materials such as cotton and linen and remember to bring sunglasses for any parts of the funeral that may take place outside. Suits should still be worn, but the jacket can be removed if you become too uncomfortable at any point.

What to wear at a winter funeral

For funerals taking place in colder weather, make sure to wear warm clothes and add layers to your outfit where appropriate. This could be a smart jumper underneath your suit jacket, or a plain t-shirt hidden under your shirt or blouse. Wear a dark, smart coat along with a hat, scarf and gloves – and don’t forget an umbrella in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.

What not to wear at a funeral

The general rule for clothing at funerals is to be respectful and understated – you don’t want to distract anyone from paying their respects to the person who has died. If the family have requested bright colours or a particular theme, then of course this is fine, but in most cases it’s best to avoid:

  • Jeans
  • Short sleeved shirts
  • Revealing clothing
  • Flip flops or trainers
  • Football shirts/sportswear
  • Caps
  • T shirts
  • Clothing with logos or branding
  • Flashy jewellery

Frequently asked questions

Why is black worn for funerals?

Wearing black for a funeral is a tradition that goes back centuries and continues in many cultures around the world today. Black is the ultimate understated, modest, and respectful colour that reflects the sadness felt by family and friends, especially on the day of the funeral. In the UK, we’re seeing a shift towards more colourful funerals as families try to make the day as personal to their loved one as possible, but most funerals still hold onto the traditional black attire.

Can I wear jeans to a funeral?

Unless the family have asked for everyone to wear casual clothes such as jeans, it’s best to avoid wearing them at funerals. Dressing in formal clothes is a way of marking the significance of the day, and by wearing casual clothes, you could be unintentionally sending the message that you don’t care about the person who has died.

If in doubt about the dress code for the funeral you’ll be attending, the best thing to do is ask. Either contact a family member you feel able to reach out to or speak with the funeral home who are making the arrangements. They’ll be able to tell you if there are any specific requests the family have made regarding how they want people to dress.