29 Comments

  1. Camille

    I have recently been to two funerals. Both of which I dressed conservatively in a black dress. My husband wore a dark suit. At both, we were the only people dressed that way….. ALL of the other people were dressed extremely casual. I actually didn’t care for the casual dress personally and I was shocked at first. Some of the people were even dressed in shorts and casual tops! They looked like they were going to go golfing or to a picnic! I will stick with my choice of dress as I feel it is most appropriate, but times are changing.

    • Vanna Keiler

      I think the answer to this question was a good one, but agree with Camille more on sticking to the traditional dark colors. Unless you know the grieving family very well or don’t have dark colors in your wardrobe, in my opinion it subtly signifies solidarity and respect for the grief the family is facing. I believe it is simply put, a symbolic gesture to wear black at a funeral, to show you are there only for the deceased and their family members. Better to err on the side of caution than show up as the only one wearing bright, out-of-place attire.

      • Allan

        I’m attending the funeral of my friend today who was 21, it is common to wear black but I’ve heard and been told for today that for young people it would be best to wear coloured clothing

        • Elizabeth

          Allan, I am sorry for your loss. Traditionally black and other somber colors (gray, navy, etc) have been suggested for funerals, no matter what age the deceased, as a mark of the gravity of the occasion. There has not been any change to that rule. However, at recent funerals I have attended, I have witnessed that while many people do dress up and wear somber colors, others choose to attend in their everyday clothes, what they wore to work (which is increasingly casual), or what have you. I think most people feel that it is better to come, however you may be dressed, rather than skip a funeral for lack of proper clothing. However, unless specifically requested by the family, I would stay away from bright colors, loud t-shirts or bold prints, as there is something celebratory about them, which does not seem particularly suited to the occasion.

  2. Suzanne Zazulak Pedro

    I have found that people have “celebration of life” events honoring the departed whereby emphasis is placed on the happier moments rather than the somber. The individuals’ favorite colors, flowers and any other symbol of their love of life is celebrated. Again, as in a more revered funeral, matters of good taste is to be adhered.

  3. Kathy

    Several years ago, I read that the two occassions women must a dress or skirt are for weddings and funerals. I still believe this to be true.

  4. Sandy

    HELP – ASAP Please! A member of our Red Hat Society will be buried tomorrow AM. Would it be appropriate for us to go as a group in full Red Hat attire (purple dresses and a red hat)? My personal opinion is that we should do so to identify ourselves as representatives of a club she belonged to. Some feel we should not wear the red hats.

    • Alicia

      I think you need to think about two different things. 1. What would the departed have wanted? 2.Would this disturb or please or cause no reaction for those closest to the departed?
      Ettiquette is about making others comfortable. It is particularly true in cases of grief where emotions are running high and people are already sadder and dealing with a lot emotionally. If you and your fellow red hat society ladies are 100% sure the deceased member would have gotten a kick out of it and her nearest and dearest will be pleased not offended then go for it. If you are anything less then 100% sure I would stick with the more conservative choice.

    • Graceandhonor

      Unless all of your members agree, best not to wear the hats. However, if the family is for it, do. By the way, this is a good time for remaining members to make their final wishes known about this to your group and their families.

      • Barbara Ramirez

        Live it! Own it! Wear the red hats and purple dresses!!! Be proud of what you beautiful women shared with your friend!! It’s totally okay that everybody doesn’t get it….even if it is the family that does not get it! A celebration of life is for everyone!!! To think that this was a part of her life that you want to celebrate but you are too afraid to make someone uncomfortable makes me sad! I say…..share your joy!!!

  5. Rusty Shackleford

    I would say the red hats are not appropriate. Not to assume anything, but my understanding is that the Red Hat fashions can get a little crazy at times. Its important to remember that the Red Hats were just one aspect of your friend’s life. I am a firm believer in conservative attire w/neutral colors for funerals (black, gray, navy blue). Perhaps the Red Hat Ladies could wear a red lapel pin to show their membership.

    • Sandy

      Thank you all for your speedy reply and for the excellent points you brought up. I thought I’d let you know that we did, in fact, wear full Red Hat Society attire. There was a large contingent of Red Hatters and before we entered the church, I read my inquiry and your responses to the other RH-ers. Most of them knew Doris, the deceased, much better than I did, and they all thought that she would not want us to leave our hats in the car. (FYI: without consulting one another, each of us had opted to take our most conservative hat and to leave the gaudy costume jewelry at home.) It was apparent that we had made the right decision when the family told us how delighted they were — and Doris would have been — to see us all there in our RH finery. Before the service began, there was a slide show of pictures from the various phases of Doris’s life — including one of her and some friends all decked out in purple dresses and red hats. Further confirmation that we had made the right decision.

      Once again, thank you for your responses.

  6. Julia

    I have to say I am more conservative on this one. In my experience, grief is often overlooke in American society — we are uncomfortable with life’s more somber moments and try to overlook them in favor of smiles and bright colors. But seriousness can do so much to not only honor a person, but provide a space where the family and friends do not have to put on a happy face. I know “celebrations of life” are well-meant, but they should not replace serious behavior in the aftermath of such a painful event.

  7. Deb

    Tomorrow I will be attending my Great Aunt Carm’s funeral – she had lived a very full 99 years and as her health declined these past couple of years…her passing is with joy, that she is on to heaven and free of any pain or suffering, to choose what to wear, I am going to wear something in the lighter shades, in good taste and what I’d wear if I was going to visit her. It just makes sense to me, to leave the “wear black” tradition aside in this situation, yet if this were a business associate or along those lines, definitely would move more towards traditional black/dark attire.

  8. Travis H

    I looked up this article because I had a funeral to go to today.

    I went, and I ended up wearing a blue shirt underneath my black jacket. Found out the colour didn’t really matter because many people wore coloured shirts. I seen some women with coloured dresses, but it wasn’t any bright colours.

  9. JS

    Try finding a black outfit whose cut/design/material/etc. appropriately expresses the “celebration” feeling you want, and you can accessorize it with appropriate jewelry.

    There is a reason human societies develop traditions following death: having a ritual helps many people with the grieving process. Black clothing is an important part of the traditional funeral in many western countries. Assuming that this is the type of funeral you’re going to please wear black or something appropriate like the Red Hat example.

  10. chasety

    Good Morning. I am 21 years old and in next Thursday, I will be attending my 47 year old father’s funeral. throughout my life he loved letting me express myself via color and style. Once I headed to college and didnt see him as much anymore, I’d always come home different than before and he loved my style changes. From my hair to my nail polish he loved it all. I am planning to wear a black dress, dark red shoes, and pearl earrings to the funeral because red and black we’re his favorite colors and he loved my pearls. My mom says me wearing red, in any form, is inappropriate. I disagree, but am I wrong?

    • Elizabeth

      Dark red shoes will not be noticed in the least. I have been to a few funerals recently, and I was surprised to see people wearing clothes of all kinds, not just black. Pearls are totally fine for a funeral, too, in fact I think they are quite perfect.

      However, I will say, perhaps you should wear different shoes just to make your mom happy. She’s probably grieving a lot right now, and I’m sure you are too, and if you can make things easier for each other that would be best. You can know in your heart that she’s technically wrong and being a little irrational, but you can also decide just to let her win this one as a kindness to her.

      I’m truly sorry for your loss.

  11. Rebecca Kaas

    When my mother passed, she was buried in a simple green button housecoat chosen by her executor, husband and my stepfather. I was so embarrassed for her. I want to go out with more glam in a beautiful emerald green gown.I don’t care how much it costs because it will be the last thing I ever wear. Anything wrong with this?

    • Lori C

      You can instruct your next of kin to dress you how you wish to be dressed for your viewing and burial. After all, it’s your funeral. If you already have this gown in your closet, let them know. Otherwise, start shopping.

    • Jody

      Rebecca, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Just make sure that you leave something in writing about your wishes, with a friend or family member who you know will carry out your wishes. Many funeral homes have pre-planning arrangements set up, but I’m not sure if that extends to “bury me in this outfit” or is just for the service arrangements.

  12. BrassyT

    I refuse to wear black at funerals. Perhaps it’s because of my religious upbringing, but we don’t wear black just to wear black… we wear our usual Sunday dressy clothing. So, if men, for instance, wear dark suits to church, which is common, then it would be accepted at a funeral. Colors are fine, I think… though some customs and religions may be different.

  13. theunknown

    In some cases, it’s usually circumstantial or it was just all they had on hand/had to wear with them/monetary reasons, people/life tends to be very busy for them, especially if it was a very fast/quick/sudden loss/death, a lot is going on behind the scenes of their lives so you’re only seeing the front, not the rest of them. No one really knows what’s going on behind the scenes. Also, deep/hard/fast painful grief/depression from the loss of a loved one is a very hard emotion to deal with so their mind may not be on a dress code for a funeral. Just my opinion.

  14. Ruby Slippers

    My mother is 78 and not in “bad” shape but not in “good” shape either. We have lost her middle son in 2009 (my brother Jere) and my own son (who was like her son as well) in December 2013. Then my Dad had to put down their Jack Russell of 15 years within the last few months so she has no one at all at home with her. I live out of town and every time I talk to her she seems worse (she has COPD and possibly emphysema). She says “she is tired” and she wants to die. She has expressed to my daughter that she needs to find something to wear for her burial. I would like to know how you feel about her wearing a demure wedding gown? She and my father eloped and she never had one. Afterall, she is going to meet THE FATHER and has given 58 years to MY father thus far. Do you think a pale blue chiffon would be more appropriate? Cost is no issue. Additionally, I am thinking of burying her with my wedding tiara on her, what do you think about that? Too rive gauche or something special I can share with her?
    Any and all comments are welcome. Thank you in advance! ~Ruby~

    • Elizabeth

      I don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules about what the deceased should wear in their funeral casket. I have always seen the deceased in something full-coverage–the body is fully covered, save for the hands and the head. I’ve never seen bare arms, or any kind of delicate see-through material. I think this has to do with practical considerations rather than propriety. I feel like it would be rather difficult to find a high-necked full-sleeved wedding dress, but if you did I’m sure it would be lovely.

      Why not help your mother shop for a lovely dress now, and throw a party for her to wear it to? The idea of buying a fancy dress only to be buried in it is so morbid!

  15. Darcell

    I am attending a funeral for my cousin. I am wearing a black sleeveless dress with silver open-toed shoes with a purse to match. Is this to much or ok to wear?

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