What Is Appropriate Clothing to Wear to a Funeral?

Written by mallory ferland
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What Is Appropriate Clothing to Wear to a Funeral?
It is important to show both respect and mourning through your clothing attire at a funeral. (graveyard image by john barber from Fotolia.com)

When deciding what to wear to a funeral, think along the lines of what you would wear to a professional board meeting. Men have much fewer options than women, however the same basic principles of tone apply for both sexes as well as for children. Funerals are times of mourning, and dress should represent that with sombre tones and sharp effort to show respect for the departed.

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Colour

It is by no exaggeration when the phrase "Are you going to a funeral?" is directed toward an individual dressed all in black. Black is both respectful and symbolic for the event. Dark colours are "fading" colours that blend into the background, and the purpose of a funeral is not to stick out but to focus all attention on the deceased. However, black is not the only colour you can wear; dark colours such as grey and navy blue are also appropriate, and whites and neutral tones should be worn as the offset or accent colour of blouses and collared shirts. The colour code applies to men, women and children.

Women

Women can choose from dresses, suits, skirts or dress trousers. When choosing a dress, make sure that the shoulders are covered as a signal of respect (this is also the usual dress code for churches). If your dress does have bare shoulders, cover them with a matching cardigan or shrug that does not need to be removed when indoors. Trouser suits can be worn with white or neutral toned blouses (it is not appropriate for a woman to wear a tie in this situation). If wearing a skirt or dress pant, the skirt or pant must be a dark shade, but the blouse can be white or a neutral colour. If desired, women may wear a black or grey dress hat, white or black gloves, or a dark coloured scarf. Jewellery should also be kept to a minimum.

Men

Men don't have as many options for dress as women do. It is most appropriate and expected that men wear suits for the occasion. The colour code applies in either black, navy or grey suit (both pant and jacket) with a white-collared shirt underneath. A tie is also necessary in a matching hue to the suit. Do not wear decorative, fun or colourful ties.

Shoes

Women's shoes should be black or brown dress shoes (colour depends on your outfit), either flats or heels. It is recommended to wear moderate height heels as significant walking is likely. Stilettos should be avoided as you don't want your heel to stick into the grass or mud at the graveside. For men, black or other wardrobe-coordinating dress shoes should be worn.

Kids and Babies

For little ones, follow the same general rules as for adults. Boys can wear suits or simply dark dress trousers with a neutral or white collared shirt, and girls can wear dark dresses or skirts. Babies should be dressed in any dark colour clothing you have (even if it is a black cotton onesie with little black bootees). If you don't have black or brown dress shoes for your children, it is all right that they wear whatever they have; clothing regulations are more forgiving for children than they are for adults.

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