What to Wear to a Funeral or Memorial Service

Traditionally, in many cultures, black is the color of mourning, and those attending a funeral were expected to wear black clothing. These days, however, the expectations are not so rigid. When deciding what to wear to a funeral or memorial service, think about what you might wear to a business meeting, a job interview, or church or synagogue. While black clothing is almost always appropriate, clothing of other colors may also be worn. In general, an outfit worn to a funeral should be fairly conservative, both in terms of color and style.

Appropriate outfits for men to wear to a funeral

Men should avoid wearing jeans, short-sleeved shirts, athletic shoes, and baseball caps. Appropriate outfits for men to wear to a funeral include a suit with a tie; pants (not jeans) and a collared, button-down shirt with a tie and a belt; dress shoes or loafers (not sneakers).

Appropriate outfits for women to wear to a funeral

Women should avoid wearing overly casual, festive, or revealing clothing. Appropriate outfits for women to wear to a funeral include a skirt suit or pantsuit; a skirt of appropriate length (not a mini skirt) or pants (not jeans) and a top with sleeves, a blouse, or a sweater; flats or pumps (not sneakers). In some regions, religions, and cultures, women may wear hats to funerals.

Following religious customs at a funeral

In some cultures, black clothing is still traditional, such as in Eastern Orthodox traditions. In other religions and cultures, black clothing is viewed as inappropriate, such as at a Quaker funeral, at which guests should wear white. If the service is very religious, there may be additional guidelines for men’s and women’s clothing, such as head coverings for both men and women, or full-length skirts and tops for women.

If you will be attending a religious funeral and you are unsure of the etiquette, see our article Attending a Religious Funeral.

For specific information about different religions' funeral customs, see our article Religious Funeral Traditions.

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