All Black Everything? What to Wear to a Funeral

Fashion obviously isn’t of top importance when someone you know passes away, yet the wrong funeral attire can be a major issue.

Figuring out what to wear to a funeral often comes down to the specifics of the service and the wishes of the family.

As a general rule, funeral clothes should be conservative and not draw attention. The purpose of the funeral is to honor the person who passed away, so drawing attention with your clothing choice is disrespectful.

Choosing clothes you would wear for church or a job interview is usually a safe bet.

If you’re still not sure what to wear to a funeral, we’ve pulled together some tips and suggestions.

Read the Obituary for Clues

Before you worry about what you should or shouldn’t wear for funerals, consider what the family wants. Most people don’t specify what to wear, but others request something specific in the obituary details.

The requests usually involve a break from the traditional funeral attire.

Some people want funeral guests to wear bright colors to make it seem less like a somber affair and more like a celebration of life.

Others might want people to wear the favorite color of the person who passed away. Sometimes it’s a themed request, such as superhero shirts to honor a child who passed away.

If the family requests something specific, try to follow those suggestions. It can give the family great comfort during a very difficult time to see funeral attendees honoring those wishes.

Funeral Attire Colors

Black is the traditional color most people think of when it comes to funeral clothing, especially in Western cultures. In color psychology, black often symbolizes death or mourning.

Black is still a safe choice for funerals.

However, you’re not limited to black. Other dark and muted colors also work well. Gray and navy are two popular options that fit the occasion.

When choosing colors, think about the tone of the event. Most funerals are somber events, which align well with darker colors. Wearing bright colors to a funeral can make you look like you’re celebrating or trying to be too festive for the occasion.

Formality of Funeral Clothes

Do men need to wear suits and ties? Should women wear dresses?

How formal you go with your funeral dress decisions depends largely on the preferences of the family and how formal the overall funeral is.

It’s never a good idea to wear clothes that are too casual, such as athletic wear. It’s too casual and doesn’t show respect for the situation.

Jeans are a gray area. For most funerals, they’re a little too casual. However, some families may prefer a more laid back celebration of life where jeans are acceptable.

If you wear jeans, pair them with a nice blouse or collared shirt. A blazer with the jeans can also help dress up the look to make it more fitting for a funeral.

Seasonal Considerations

The weather plays a role in what you wear. In the summer, wear lightweight clothing while sticking to the general guidelines. Keep the clothing in muted colors without flashy designs.

You want to stay cool, but it’s generally not appropriate to wear shorts to a funeral. Men should wear lightweight slacks to stay comfortable and respectful.

Women can wear dresses or skirts to keep cool as long as they are not too short. Watch the necklines to make sure they don’t dip down too far.

It’s usually best to wear something with a sleeve. Avoid spaghetti straps. If you wear a sleeveless dress, pair it with a lightweight cardigan.

Location of the Service

Consider the location of the funeral and visitation services when planning your outfit. If it’s a formal church service, your attire should be a little more formal and conservative. If it’s held at a casual location, your clothes can match the more laid back environment.

Religious Customs

Some religions have different customs when it comes to funeral services and the colors used in those services. Be aware of religious funeral customs when you’re attending a service.

In many Asian cultures, the family wears white. Red should never be worn because it’s considered the color of happiness. Families also don’t wear jewelry to funeral services.

For Hindu services, clothing is often white, simple, and casual.

For Buddhist funerals, the family typically wears white while friends wear black.

Being aware of those cultural differences helps you choose appropriate clothing to avoid upsetting the family or standing out at the service.


It’s okay to accessorize your look with conservative jewelry. Just like your clothing, your accessories should be muted so they don’t draw too much attention.

If you wear jewelry, consider how noisy it is. A stack of bracelets or a noisy necklace will be distracting during the funeral.

Skip flip flops or tennis shoes. They’re too casual, unless the funeral is a casual event.

Women should skip stilettos or flashy shoes. Stick with something that’s comfortable and dressier than tennis shoes.

Clothes to Avoid

Some types of clothing should be avoided regardless of the funeral details.

Avoid anything flashy or overly trendy. That includes anything with sequins, metallic finishes, or attention-drawing designs.

A funeral is not a fashion show opportunity, and you’ll likely stand out for negative reasons. It’s always better to be conservative with your look unless something flashy is specifically requested by the family.

Skip clothes that are short in length, low cut, or otherwise revealing. Those types of clothing might be considered disrespectful. They also attract attention, which shouldn’t be the goal of your funeral clothes.

A general rule for length is to choose something that hits at the knee or below. Something slightly above the knee is acceptable in most situations, but anything much shorter is inappropriate.

Don’t Overthink It

Don’t stress out over what to wear to a funeral. As long as you’re respectful in your clothing choice, your attire is acceptable. The family will be glad you’ve come to pay your respects and won’t likely pay attention to what you’re wearing anyway.

What to Wear to a Funeral

Figuring out what to wear to a funeral can be stressful at an already sad time. When you keep in mind being conservative and respectful, the clothing decisions become easier.

Attending a funeral reminds everyone how short life is. Our preplanning services can take the work off of your loved ones and ensure your celebration of life fits your preferences.