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​What To Wear When Attending A Funeral Or Memorial Service

21 days ago

What To Wear When Attending A Funeral Or Memorial Service

Funerals and memorial services underpin a vital process of mourning and give you the chance to pay respect when a loved one has died. Although they usually are sad end-of-life occasions, funerals often provide comfort for the living. Of course, wearing the right attire will help you pay your condolences in the correct manner.

Some people have no idea what to wear to a funeral, but generally, the best advice is never to call attention to yourself with your attire. If you are unsure about what to wear, imagine you need to dress for a job interview: classic, plain, and correct.

Here’s our advice on what is appropriate to wear on the day: in western culture, black clothing has traditionally been the colour of mourning, although in oriental Far East countries such as China or Japan this title goes to white. For women, some wear purple when mourning the death of their spouse. However, in the 21st century, wearing black isn't the only option open to those attending a funeral. It’s not uncommon to see other types of dark colours, because they can be a good option too.

Being formally dressed in a suit of muted, darker colours will be fine and is today considered just as respectful as black. In some instances, the family of the deceased request brighter colours to be worn, to celebrate the life in question, rather than dwell on the sadness of the loss.

Conversely, for very formal burials and church services, traditional black suits might be the expectation. If you are a pallbearer, this will likely be the case. You may find that the family members makes it very clear when providing the service details, what the funeral etiquette for the day will be. If the dress code has not been made clear, use your common sense, taking into account your culture, the religious belief of the deceased, your relationship to the family, where the service will be held, and the time of year it is.


Funerals do tend to be solemn occasions, so it’s best to think conservative – formal or semi-formal – when choosing what kind of suit to wear. Generally, for men going to a traditional funeral, it’s recommended to wear a dark tailored suit, with a white shirt and a non-fussy, not-too-bright tie. If you know that the church or graveside service will be very formal, opt for a black suit, black tie, and black shoes. For most funerals, a navy suit or a grey or charcoal suit with a plain button-down shirt will be considered appropriate too.

It’s vital that your suit has been recently cleaned and pressed, and fits you well. If in doubt, invest in a new charcoal grey or navy suit, which fits like a glove and will be a useful long-term addition to your wardrobe.


A black-tie worn with your dark suit (grey, black, or navy) will certainly make you look the part for a funeral, but don’t feel you have to be this darkly dressed and formal. You could opt for a dark maroon, midnight blue or navy tie or very subtly patterned tie in blending shades. Just avoid wearing an overly bright colour or jazzy design when choosing the tie, unless bright colours have been specifically requested by the family of the deceased.


Black shoes are the safest bet to wear to a traditional funeral, although brown may be acceptable if you are opting for slightly less formal attire and are wearing a navy or dark grey suit. Don’t turn up to a funeral in trainers, flip flops, or scruffy shoes, that’s not what to wear to a funeral unless requested by the family. Polish your black shoes or buy a smart new pair to ensure you are looking your best while paying your respects.

Other useful tips for attending a funeral

1. Bring sunglasses (no flashy embellishments), a dark rain mac, or an overcoat if the funeral or burial is likely to be affected by rain or cold weather.

2. Don’t text and use your mobile phone while mourners are assembled as this is highly disrespectful.

3. Avoid fabrics or shoes that can produce sounds – a squeaking or creaking sound will disrupt the occasion and you would feel embarrassed.

4. Aim to arrive at the service around 15 minutes early to ensure you don’t disrupt the service by being late.

5. Try to move in a regular or a tailored fit suit. This is not the time to show off your well-built body.

6. Avoid strong perfumes or after-shave lotions – not everybody likes perfumes.