Dressing appropriately for the occasion is always important, but for some events it’s paramount. One such occasion, where dressing must be approached with thought and care, is a funeral and wake. At funerals, it’s essential to show respect, and part of doing so is dressing in proper attire. The somber occasion should be represented through your clothing with subdued tones, classic styles, and understated design. Funerals are a time to blend with the crowd and fade to the background as everyone honors the deceased and pays respect to the deceased’s loved ones. Show sensitivity to the occasion by dressing simple, sophisticated, sharp, and subdued. Remember, it’s equally as inappropriate to look sloppy as it is to appear over the top and flamboyant.
What to Wear to a Funeral
When it comes to dress shirts for funerals, white is the traditional choice. As white tends to fade and turn off-white when washed with other colors, an old white shirt may look sloppy and wrong. A pristine, new shirt will ensure that this is not the case. Just make sure that it is clean and pressed. If you wish to forego the traditional white shirt opt for black or another dark-toned dress shirt. While block colors will always be best, a very subtle pattern may also be acceptable. Whatever you do, do not wear a short-sleeved shirt to a funeral. The style is much too casual for the occasion and could be seen as an insult to the serious nature of the event.
When dressing for a funeral, gents should always wear a two or three-piece suit as a token of respect. Don’t wear a suit, and you risk appearing underdressed and disrespectful of the occasion. Black is a natural option for a funeral suit and the best choice. The dark color not only conveys your grief for the situation, but it is also traditional for funerals. Next, to black, charcoal, and dark grey are the best suits to wear. Like black, these subdued hues will appropriately represent the somber mood of the event and convey your respect. If you somehow don’t own a black or dark grey suit and can’t buy one before the day, choose another dark or muted tone. Dark navy is an acceptable third option, should you need it.
When dressing for a funeral, always make sure that your suit is a solid color. This sorrowful event is no time for patterns, checks, or stripes. Also, make sure your suit is well prepared for the day. This means ensuring that it’s cleaned, pressed, and well-fitting before the morning of the event. The last thing you need on the day of a funeral is to have to rethink your outfit.
For a funeral, your shoes should be black, laced dress shoes. This is the traditional choice and will always match with a black or dark-toned suit. Always ensure that your shoes are prepared ahead of time. Check that the leather is appropriately polished and free of scuff marks well before the day of the funeral. If you cannot wear black shoes, dark brown should be your next choice. Also, be sure to match your shoes with a leather belt in the same color for a cohesive look.
Funerals also require that you wear a tie. If you skip the tie, you could wind up looking inappropriate and disrespectful, so it’s best to always add one. The traditional tie choice for a funeral is a solid black tie, although some other dark colors and understated patterns may be acceptable. Ensure your tie is pressed and neatly tied on the day. Cufflinks are also an accessory to consider when dressing for a funeral. Small, classic cufflinks are all you need to complete your formal look with proper polish. While a pocket square isn’t necessary for a funeral, you can choose to wear a plain white one if you wish.
Umbrellas and Hats
If it’s raining on the day of the funeral, you may wish to take an umbrella with you, particularly if the ceremony is outdoors. Ensure that it’s a classic black umbrella with no pattern to make certain you don’t stand out. If the ceremony is indoors, ask the venue host if there is an out-of-the-way spot where you can stow your umbrella for the duration. Carrying it around with you will not only look improper, but it may also make it awkward and difficult to shake hands and offer condolences before and after the ceremony. If you also wish to wear a hat to the funeral, make sure that it’s a classic style (absolutely no caps) in a dark color and that you take it off during the ceremony.
Depending on the weather, it may also be appropriate to wear a coat to a funeral. If the funeral is outdoors or taking place on a particularly wet or cold day, then, by all means, take an appropriate form of outerwear with you. A long, black coat in a classic style will do the job well. Choose between styles such as traditional overcoats and topcoats in woolen fabrics. Other coats, such as peacoats, car coats, and trenches, may also be appropriate depending on the formality of the funeral. No matter which style you decide upon, your outerwear should always appear sharp and understated. This is no time to experiment with texture, color, or shape. Also, note that if the funeral is indoors, you should remove your coat for the duration of the ceremony.
- Respect the family’s wishes and dress code.
- Dark colors are a necessary mark of respect.
- Be sure to wear a suit, preferably in black.
- Don’t ever wear casual wear, such as jeans or a t-shirt.
- Always complete your outfit with a tie.
- Dress shoes in a dark tone are essential. Ensure they are polished.
- Keep accessories simple and sharp.
- If the funeral is held in a formal venue, such as a church, be sure to keep your jacket on throughout the ceremony.
- As dress codes and rules differ between faiths, ensure that you’re dressed appropriately for the religious nature of the funeral you’re attending.
Men's Funeral Attire FAQs
What should a man wear to a funeral?
The ideal outfit for a man to wear to a funeral is a black three-piece suit, with a white shirt, black dress shoes, and solid black tie. Accessories can include small cufflinks, a classic black hat, a black umbrella (if expecting rain), and a classic overcoat such as a peacoat or trench for cold weather. This is the ultimate show of respect. However, it’s also essential to adhere to the family’s wishes and dress code. Some families prefer guests to wear bright colors to celebrate a life well lived rather than mourning a loss.
Should a man wear a suit to a funeral?
Ideally, a man should wear a black suit to a funeral, as a show of respect and reverence to the loved one lost.
Can I wear a grey suit to a funeral?
If you don’t have a black suit, you can get away with a dark grey suit. However, a light grey suit is not very appropriate unless the dress code has indicated otherwise.
What to wear to a funeral if you don't have a suit?
If you don’t have a suit, wear a pair of dress trousers, with a dress shirt and a nice tie. Aim for black and white, keeping the color palette subdued.
Taylah Brewer holds a bachelor's degree in fashion and business and is a skilled writer with several years of experience in the world of online content creation and copywriting. She is passionate about fashion, beauty, and all things lifestyle-related and has been writing for The Trend Spotter since 2016. She currently works as the Head of Digital & Ecommerce at White & Co.
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