How To Dress For A Funeral
Unfortunately, occasions that call for you to look your best aren’t always joyous ones. Death is a part of life and paying your respect to the deceased, whether they are a family member, friend or other loved one, is important. While it may be hard to think about something as seemingly inconsequential as clothing at a time like this, putting a little thought into what you wear visibly communicates your respect for the deceased.
In the Western world, black is the traditional color of mourning. Your suit should be a dark color, preferably black. If you don’t own a black suit, a dark gray, charcoal or navy blue suit is okay as well. What’s most important is choosing a muted color that doesn’t distract from the occasion.
For a funeral, keep your dress shirt simple. A clean, white dress shirt is the best choice. A subdued color like gray or black can also work. Again, avoid bright colors. The focus of any funeral is to mourn the deceased while also celebrating their life. It’s not about you. Wearing bright, flashy and distracting clothing is not only disrespectful to the deceased, but also will draw the wrong kind of attention to you.
Just like your shirt, your necktie should be simple as well. A traditional width solid black tie or tone-on-tone black tie is the safest choice. If you don't have a black tie, just be sure to avoid an overly bright colored tie. Stay away from colors like pink, orange, red, yellow or light blue. Navy blue or another dark understated solid color (burgundy, dark gray) can work as well. If at all possible, avoid boldly patterned or metallic ties.
Unless others attending the funeral know you for wearing bow ties, we recommend sticking to a necktie for funerals. We love bow ties, but they are statement pieces that can be a distraction at a funeral. Now, if you are the guy who's known for wearing bow ties, refer to the guidelines above when selecting your tie. Solid black bow ties, black tone-on-tone bow ties or dark solid color bow ties are the most appropriate choice.
Your shoes should match the rest of your outfit. A pair of clean black dress shoes is the appropriate choice for a funeral. If you haven't worn your black dress shoes in some time, wipe off any dust or dirt and give them a polish if needed. Whatever you do, do not wear sneakers to a funeral.
Like any important event, putting on a suit isn’t enough. Good grooming is also essential. Get a haircut if you're due, shave, brush your teeth and cut your fingernails. Making an effort to look your best reflects well on you, but most importantly, it shows reverence for the deceased and their loved ones.
Some People Approach Funerals Differently
These guidelines apply to traditional funerals. There may also be funerals that you attend that don’t follow these more subdued traditions. More and more frequently, people are choosing to forgo the more somber traditional funeral for a celebration of life that includes music and activities the deceased enjoyed in life. For funerals like this, wearing black or even a suit may be out of place. Find out what the nature of the funeral you’re attending is and dress accordingly.