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Posted on January 5, 2023 by jhcadm

What Do I Wear to a Funeral? How to Dress When Paying Your Respects

What Do I Wear to a Funeral? How to Dress When Paying Your Respects

Most people will attend at least one funeral in their lifetime, likely more, and it can be difficult to know exactly how to present yourself in dress if you’ve never been to a funeral before if it’s been a while since the last funeral you attended. To help take the pressure off, we’ve put together a list of appropriate attire for both adults and children—with a couple of notes.

  1. As a funeral home based in Detroit, Michigan, these tips will be largely applicable for the American funeral experience (and just good rules-of-thumb in general when attending a funeral) but by no means are representative of the funeral traditions in every country and/or culture. And,
  2. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to dressing for a funeral, and there’s always an exception. Use your best judgement and be sure to pay attention to the funeral announcement and/or any specific requests from the family. For example, it may be requested that you wear a certain color in honor of the deceased. Some families may also stipulate that formal attire is not required (the location of the funeral service can also be a factor).

How to Dress for a Funeral (In General)

As mentioned briefly above, how you dress depends largely on the level of formality and the location of the funeral service. The invitation or funeral announcement should let you know in advance. However, if you’re unsure or if nothing is formally stated, it’s best to dress business formal as a default.

What does this mean?

For men, this typically means suits (black or another darker color preferred). If you don’t have a suit, dark slacks and a button-down shirt (with tie, if possible) is an alternative option—one that is especially common for younger boys. For women, dark slacks and a blouse are also acceptable, as are skirts, dresses, and pantsuits—also recommended in deeper colors unless otherwise specified. For non-binary individuals, select one of the above options that makes you most comfortable.

In general, try to avoid bright colors and overly flashy accessories; nothing should be too noisy or distracting. A funeral is a place you want to blend in, not stand out. By doing this, you’re respecting the communal space and allowing others to grieve without distraction.

Finally, be sure to wear comfortable footwear (and no, we don’t mean your old, worn-in athletic shoes). While they should match the formality of the occasion, you’ll want to be sure you can walk in your shoes on uneven terrain should you be attending a graveside service.

And, of course, when in doubt, just ask! No one is going to fault you for being unsure how formal or informal a funeral is going to be.

Dressing Children for Funeral Services

When it comes to how to dress children for a funeral, most of the same rules apply. Dark colors, semi-formal clothing, etc.

HOWEVER, especially when it comes to babies, toddlers, and younger children—comfortable is critical. It’s generally recommended that you do not bring a young baby to a funeral. That being said, if you are a member of the family or if you have no other choice, it doesn’t particularly matter how the baby is dressed so long as the outfit is clean and simple (i.e., no onsides with crazy sayings).

For infants and toddlers, you’ll want to make sure that whatever you put them in isn’t going to make them uncomfortable or fussy later on—this can lead to disruptions during the service and make it difficult for other attendees to properly pay their respects, processes the events, etc. We highly recommend bringing a change of clothes for after the funeral service if you think this might be an issue. You can switch them into something more comfortable prior to the meal or wake, when a casual appearance is more appropriate.

We Are Here To Help

Have additional questions about what funeral services and attire may be most appropriate for your loved one’s funeral? Curious about what other funeral planning and attendee tips we have available? You can check our blog for even more information or reach out to one of our compassionate funeral directors to discuss your options.   

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