What Does a Woman Wear to a Funeral?

Updated April 17, 2017

A funeral is a time for grieving, celebrating a life and supporting friends and family members of the deceased. Choosing what to wear is by comparison of little importance. Even so, funeral attire etiquette should always be followed as a display of reverence. In nearly every case, your outfit should be conservative and simple with no attention-grabbing details or accessories.


Black, though considered standard, is not your only colour option. Navy blue, charcoal grey and other dark hues are also acceptable. For those who do not own an appropriate dress or suit, you may pair separates together. For instance, a modest white or beige blouse worn with a black skirt will do. The point is to avoid drawing attention to yourself or your outfit, so never choose bright, "happy" colours like yellow, pink or turquoise. This is considered disrespectful.


Most professional outfits are considered appropriate funeral attire. Skirt or pantsuits are usually acceptable. At ultra-traditional gatherings, however, skirts may be preferred. Avoid tight-fitting clothing, uncovered shoulders and any skirts shorter than knee-length. Cover bare legs with pantyhose unless the temperature is unreasonably high. Remember that the most conservative choice is the best choice. For example, between a dark green dress that reaches mid-calf and a black dress that falls above the knee, the green one is the more respectable choice.


You may wear accessories so long as they are modest and elegant. Classic feminine styles, such as a string of pearls or a pair of simple stud earrings are acceptable. Accessories, like your clothing, should be muted. Do not wear eye-catching colours, super-trendy designs or costume jewellery. Shoes should be simple as well. Close-toed styles are not required but usually preferred. Never wear casual sandals or super high heels. If you choose to wear a hat, be sure it is ladylike and modest and never wear it inside a religious building unless specifically instructed to do so.


Some families actually request that guests wear bright rather than dark colours to celebrate the life of the deceased. In this case, it is best to abide by their wishes. If you feel uncomfortable doing so, you may compromise by adding a pop of colour to an otherwise modest outfit. For example, wear a yellow blouse with a navy skirt and jacket. Also consider any clothing guidelines that may accompany the family's religious affiliation, such as the aforementioned skirt rule or protocol regarding headgear.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Alison Datko is a professional editor with experience as a journalist, writer and blogger. She contributes to a variety of print and online publications, specializing in music, food, art, fashion and culture.