Q: At a funeral I recently attended, I was startled to see several women wearing brightly colored dresses. The styles of their outfits weren’t inappropriate, but I’ve always thought you were supposed to wear black or another somber color to funerals. Is color a new trend?
A: While you’ll never go wrong with black, my informal survey suggests that, these days, bright colors are considered appropriate if the clothing is in good taste (no Hawaiian shirts, please!). It really comes down to respect and personal choice. Some women I talked to said that, to them, a funeral service is a celebration of the deceased person’s life, and therefore they wouldn’t wear black. One woman told me that she donned a red dress for her best friend’s funeral because it was her pal’s favorite color. Ultimately, your decision should factor in the expectations of the bereaved family and the location of the event (is it a religious service or at a place of worship, or a eulogy at a funeral home or other venue?), and your own views about death. Still not sure what you should wear? When in doubt, dress conservatively and use color only as an accent.