Choosing a Funeral Dress or Funeral Clothing

How to dress for a funeral

Not everyone has an item of clothing in their current closet that would be appropriate as a funeral dress. Choosing the right funeral attire or funeral dresses can be difficult during an already emotional challenging time. In this article, you'll learn more about what to consider when selecting a funeral dress or the appropriate clothing to wear to a funeral.

Whether you landed here to learn more about what to wear for yourself or are concerned about helping prepare your loved one’s final clothing, you’ll find advice to help you navigate that situation in this post.

Color Concepts to Consider for Funeral Dresses and Funeral Clothing

It goes without saying that the most popular color people wear at funerals is black. However, this does not mean that you are limited to black alone. Muted and dark colors, such as grey, navy, dark brown, and black can all be appropriate.

Most funerals only require that you wear something nice and darker colors and it is considered a sign of respect to do so. Most people who attend a funeral want to pay respects to the family and the deceased by dressing in a way that communicates mourning and sympathy. Funeral dresses and funeral attires for men will vary from one culture to another. The recommendations in this article are specific to contemporary western culture.

A more formal family might expect traditional and formal funeral attire, but expectations can vary. Consulting with the director of the funeral home can help you to understand whether or not the family has particular expectations in mind.

Other color ideas

Consider Coverage

Black is a traditional cover and is always appropriate, but it is important for the individual item of clothing to be respectful and cover a great deal of the skin. Shirts and dresses should cover up the neck and open colors should be avoided. Dresses and pants should also cover the knees as mini-skirts or shorts could be considered disrespectful or inappropriate for the setting.

A good guideline is to dress as you would for a job interview or a church when selecting funeral dresses. Many traditions support or require the knees and shoulders covered and in general, revealing attire is not appropriate unless you have been informed otherwise by the family of their intentions for a non-traditional funeral.

Leverage Layers

Since it can be hard to tell what the temperature will be like for an indoor viewing or funeral, it’s good to have extra layers available. When choosing funeral dresses for women or the right attire for a man, make sure the style you select works well with jackets, shawls, or other clothing that could be added if the temperature drops.

Don’t Appear Too Casual

Avoid athletic shoes and flip flops. In some casual settings, a T-shirt might be appropriate, but it is best to avoid logos and brightly colored prints. Keeping a formal jacket on hand or bringing with you to the location of the funeral can upgrade many other outfits.

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What Women Should Wear to A Funeral

Dark funeral dresses or suits are always appropriate, but these dresses and skirts should always reach the knees. Tasteful color accents can be acceptable so long as the primary color scheme for the funeral attire is dark. Avoiding bright sun dresses is a great recommendation.

Some of the easiest funeral outfit ideas for women include funeral dresses, a skirt suit, a pant suit, a skirt and sweater, and pants and tops with sleeves. When in doubt, women should always opt for the more traditional and conservative option if they are not sure of the family's intentions for the funeral. It is always best to show up to a funeral over-dressed rather than being too casual or under-dressed.

In general, one of the hardest parts of choosing what to wear is selecting shoes. Finding funeral dresses is step one, but selecting the right shoe is important, too. In general, open-toed shoes are not recommended. Even in warmer weather, one kind of shoe that works well is a flat- it allows for maximum comfort, covers the toes, and is still appropriate with many different clothing options. Given that attending a funeral, especially for family members who host the viewing beforehand, means a lot of time on their feet during a very difficult emotional period, comfort with flats or well-supported dress shoes is key.

Many women might think that the shoe choice that goes best with funeral dresses is heels. However, heels can be painful and they can also be hard to walk in for an outdoor burial situation. If the ground is wet, heels can sink into the soft earth and also track mud back into the funeral parlor, car, or home.

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What Men Should Wear at A Funeral

A few basic tips can help men select their funeral suiting or attire. Buttoned shirts and dark suits are always appropriate and a man wearing these to a funeral can’t go wrong. Something with a collar that has long sleeves matched with a belt and the shirt tucked in is recommended. Loafers or dress shoes should always be chosen instead of sneakers or athletic shoes.

In general, men should avoid baseball caps, jeans, and shorts when selecting their funeral attire. Some basic ideas for funeral outfit attire for men include a dress suit with a tie, slacks, and a buttoned-down shirt with blazer and slacks with a buttoned-down shirt and tie, and slacks with a belt and polo shirt. Men will typically wear black, grey or dark blue with a collared dress shirt and tie.

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Considering the Seasons When Selecting Funeral Dresses

The location should be the first item that you consider when contemplating whether or not you need to purchase a new funeral dress. You'll want to be prepared for the heat and sun, for example, if you are attending an outdoor service.

In addition to bringing your funeral dresses and optional attire, such as a jacket, consider bringing an umbrella and sunglasses. Try to avoid numerous layers and select fabrics that are airy and lighter for wearing outside. Synthetic polyester and nylon clothing, for example, trap in sweat and heat.

A light and comfortable dress or a knee length skirt with a light blouse is appropriate for women looking for funeral dress. Men should avoid denim and shorts and should instead stick to light weight dress pants or slacks. In the winter, however, women can opt for a dark or moderately colored classic wool coat, in addition to darkly colored plaids. Open toed shoes and sandals should be avoided. Men can leverage a black wool coat as well and should use thick dark wool socks.

When to Buy Funeral Dresses

Having a simple black dress in your closet can be effective for preparing for a funeral. Most people have something in their wardrobe already that can be leveraged in the form of funeral attire.

Buying funeral dresses can be accomplished easily by visiting most department stores or looking at online shopping opportunities.  Most people likely have something in their closet already that could at least double as funeral dresses or funeral attire; make sure you comb through your wardrobe to see if you have something dressy enough and appropriate for the current weather.

Funeral Dresses and Attire for the Deceased

If you’re a loved one of the person who has passed away, your role in outfit selection might extend beyond what you plan to wear for yourself. Family members might have to come to a decision about what to bury their loved one in. It might seem like the right choice to honor the loved one’s personal style when burying them, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind when selecting funeral dresses or clothing attire for men inside a casket.

Jewelry and other personal memorabilia you want with your loved one in the casket is likely to be returned to the family at the end of the funeral, but the clothing will not be. If there is something that a surviving spouse or child would like to cherish as an item of clothing, make sure these concerns are considered when selecting the final attire.

Some general guidelines to keep in mind when picking funeral dresses for a deceased woman or attire for a deceased man include providing undergarments, choosing clothing with a high neckline and long sleeves to cover the collarbone, and a wig or glasses, if worn.

When deciding what to include or select for your loved one, consider the style of the funeral, the personality of the deceased, what they looked best in or are likely to be remembered wearing by their loved ones who will be saying goodbye, and whether there are any other special items, like a rosary, that should be included.

Since you have the ability to select something personalized for your loved one in terms of clothing, remember to look back on pictures, too. A picture should also be provided to the funeral home for the purpose of hair and makeup.

Final Thoughts on Funeral Clothing

Whether selecting funeral dresses for yourself to attend a service, selecting attire for men of all ages to wear to a funeral, or thinking about what clothing your loved one will wear after they have passed, keep things simple to minimize your stress level.

Always consider the wishes of the family and any special notes you’ve received from them when it comes to planning for a funeral and choosing your clothing.