Attending a funeral has traditionally meant donning dark, sombre clothing, according to funeral etiquette in the UK.
Yet with many people now considering the funeral to be a celebration of life, it’s not unusual to be asked to wear bright colours in their someone’s memory.
Contemporary funeral wear
Unlike other ceremonies marking major life occasions, it’s often taken as a given that people will know what to wear to a funeral.
It’s unusual to be provided with a dress code for a traditional funeral, but if the bereaved family is planning a more contemporary style celebration of life, it could mean donning waterproofs and wellies to attend a natural burial – or even fancy dress.
Whether you wear bright colours to a funeral, or go dressed from head to toe in black, the most important rule of thumb when you’re dressing for a funeral, is to avoid standing out from the crowd.
Whether it’s a traditional funeral you’re attending, or a celebration of someone’s life, avoid dressing to take centre-stage. The focus of the funeral is upon the person who has died and their bereaved family.
What do I wear to a traditional funeral in the UK?
That can depend on what tradition you’re following – our guide to religious funerals has details of what to wear to a funeral including
- Jewish funerals
- Muslim funerals
Sikh funerals, as well as Christian denominations including
- Catholic funerals
It’s sensible to assume, though, that dark and formal clothes are most appropriate funeral attire for men or women, unless the funeral notice, or bereaved family has suggested otherwise.
Clothes for a funeral should be clean, smart, well-pressed and, if necessary, brushed and polished.
Do you have to wear black to a funeral?
Black has long been typically worn by mourners at a traditional funeral, but today, other dark shades are also appropriate.
A smart work suit or outfit is usually acceptable – it’s a good rule of thumb to ask yourself whether it would be appropriate wear for a formal business meeting or job interview.
Funeral wear should not draw attention to you. At a traditional funeral, it’s proper to wear conservative clothing in muted colours to maintain a focus on who the service is all about and for.
Do I have to wear a suit to a funeral?
Traditional funeral attire for men is typically a suit, in the UK. But formal clothes or robes associated by culture or faith for paying respects at a funeral could also be the appropriate choice.
Formal wear hire companies are can help take the strain out of decision– making – and ironing – providing funeral attire to suit a range of budgets and sizes.
If you don’t have a dark suit to wear, or borrow, you could don a shirt and tie, worn under a jacket – what’s respectful is to look smart, well-groomed and look like you have made an effort.
What should a man wear to a funeral?
It’s typical to wear a long-sleeved white shirt at a funeral, but a plain, unpatterned buttoned shirt in a muted colour is acceptable, too. Shoes should be dark, clean and well-polished.
The suit jacket should be kept on, throughout the funeral service.
What kind of tie do I wear to the funeral?
It’s formal to wear a black neck tie to a funeral, but a plain tie in a dark colour is acceptable these days. If you’ve been asked to be a pallbearer or give a eulogy, you could double-check with the funeral director if there’s a dress code you need to be aware of.
Can I wear navy to a funeral?
Navy and grey – typical colours for a work suit or outfit – are suitable funeral wear. In fact, it’s more common for mourners and sympathisers to be dressed in these hues, while the funeral directors – and perhaps the families members most closely related to the person who has died – wear very formal black.
Well-pressed clothes, polished shoes and a tidy appearance are a gesture of respect towards the bereaved family to the person who has died.
Even if the funeral you’re attending has specified a relaxed dress code, it’s still important to ensure that your funeral clothes won’t make you the centre of attention.
What’s the funeral dress code for women?
Dresses, skirt suits and trouser suits can be all be worn to a traditional funeral – the focus is on formality.
Skirts should ideally be worn below the knee at a traditional funeral, while choose dresses or blouses with sleeves, rather than strappy or strapless – or, if the latter with a sleeved jacket worn over.
What should children wear to a funeral? Children attending a funeral should also look smart. While less strictly formal than an adults’ dress code, it’s tradition for children to wear the kind of clothes that would be appropriate for attending a place of worship.
The younger the kids are, the more the emphasis upon them appearing neat and tidy – while older children and teenagers may adopt more of the adult dress code’s formality.
What to wear to a funeral – keeping warm and dry
Funeral venues aren’t always the warmest of places, especially if you are attending a burial or outdoor memorial.
If it’s a traditional funeral, a dark coloured coat’s ideal over your funeral outfit if you have one and take a brolly, just in case it rains.
Burial grounds can get muddy – so it may be a good idea to bring a change of shoes to slip into for this part of the funeral, if you’re wearing heels.
What should I wear to a green funeral?
At natural burials, celebrations of life and contemporary farewells, the funeral dress code is often more relaxed. For this kind of funeral, you’re more likely to be given the heads-up about what to wear, as a form of personal tribute to the person who has died.
When is it okay to wear bright colours to a funeral?
Wearing particular bright colour to the funeral, or even fancy dress, could be the way that a family invite you to come dressed to pay your respects.
Warm clothes, wellies and waterproofs may be most appropriate for a natural or woodland burial on a winter’s day.
At a more traditional funeral, where a more formal dress code is appropriate, you may still be asked to wear a certain colour with your outfit, to reflect someone’s passion, lifestyle or a charitable cause they had a connection with.
What other colour clothing do people traditionally wear at funerals? Traditional colours of mourning vary around the world – from black to gold and purple.