what should women wear to a funeral (2)

What Should Women Wear to a Funeral?

Women often find themselves in a difficult position when it comes to what they should wear to attend the funeral of a friend or family member. 

Should you dress up? Dress down? What is appropriate attire for this occasion? How can you show your respect and support without upsetting others or making them uncomfortable with your appearance?

Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals will always find creative ways to pull costs in line with your budget.

This blog post will provide some guidance on how women can navigate these waters. 

What's an Appropriate Outfit for a Funeral?

The traditional funeral is an outfit for women; the standard dress code calls for smart-ish clothes in muted colours. This might sound strict, but there's a lot of freedom within that. A good rule of thumb is to dress as you would for a job interview if you're worried.

Now, there's a big caveat here, in that a lot of families ask guests for a more casual dress code these days. Or they might tell you not to wear black or grey colours. And at some non-Christian religious funerals (such as Hindu funerals), you'll be asked to wear white instead. In which case, follow their wishes! But if they don't say anything, the advice below will help you blend in at the funeral.

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Here are a few general tips on what to wear to a funeral (and what not to) before we get to the examples:

  • Dress modestly. People generally try to avoid low necklines and other 'sexy' outfit elements.
  • You don't have to wear all-black. Muted shades like blue, brown, grey, burgundy, dark purple, beige, and green are typical. White and gentle pastel colours can be mixed in, too.
  • Keep jewellery simple. Not big and flashy. No 70s medallions here.
  • Be comfortable. You're going to spend the whole day in this outfit! Bring layers to keep warm, as venues are often chilly. Heels are not mandatory at a funeral, either. Consider opting for a mid-height to flat shoe over a high one (it's typically a long day with lots of standing).
  • Avoid loud colours and patterns. You might want to leave the Hawaiian shirt at home. Unless you've been told to wear it, of course, with bright colours, consider avoiding them or keeping it to a hint here or there unless the dress code calls for them.
  • Get out your iron. So your clothes are nice and sleek, not crumpled. Clean and shine your shoes, too. You'll feel more comfortable if everything is as intelligent as it can be.

When deciding what to wear to a funeral, it is always best to go conservative. While it's true that you don't have to wear black, you should dress in a way that shows respect. That means avoiding bright colours, vivid prints, and glittery fabrics.

A good rule of thumb is to dress as if you are attending a serious business meeting. That means what you may be guided by your location, the climate, and the culture of the deceased.

What to Wear to a Funeral: Dos and Don'ts

Do:

  • Consider where and when the service will be held: A memorial service at a beach will be more casual than a service at a place of worship.
  • Use common sense: If you attend the funeral of someone you knew to be quite formal, the attire should likely be more conservative.
  • Ask for advice: It is perfectly appropriate to ask an immediate family member or the funeral director for advice on what to wear. The deceased may have specified a preference. For example, someone with a strong sense of humour may have set in their funeral plan to like everyone to wear green.
  • Dress to blend in: We all want to be unique, but a funeral is not the time to stand out. You want to be dressed along the same lines as the other mourners.
  • Consider the culture: Some cultures have unique traditions when it comes to funeral attire. For example, some Asian cultures prefer white, and red and black are the norm in some African cultures. If the funeral is for someone with a distinct cultural background, asking a family member if they prefer attire is perfectly acceptable.

Don't:

  • Pick this time to be a rebel: A funeral is a time for everyone to mourn. It is not a time to stand out.
  • Underdress: While you are likely to see a range of fashion choices, you are far better off if you are a bit overdressed than underdressed. Step away from the flip flops!
  • Forget why you are there: The whole point of the funeral is to show respect to the deceased. If you choose something respectful, you will be fine.
  • Agonise: Chances are you have something that will work. Just stick to primary dark colours and cover-up. The important thing is that you are there to honour your loved one. Unless your outfit is over the top or inappropriate, no one is likely to notice what you are wearing.
  • In general, the etiquette for funeral attire is the same for both men and women: business-type attire that is respectful and conservative. Err on the side of dressing up as opposed to dressing down. Black or another dark colour is almost always appropriate. Be sure to consider the weather and location of the service and consult with a family member of the deceased if you need specific advice.

While it's true that the standard for the funeral dress has become more relaxed over the years, clothing should still be respectful and conservative. 

Keep in mind that your goal is not to place the focus on you. The best rule of thumb for funeral attire is to dress as you would for a business meeting. 

Select elements that are respectful and conservative and will not cause a distraction. Those are the basics. Now, on to some solid funeral outfit ideas.

What to Wear to a Funeral: Tips for Women

  • A suit with a skirt or pants in a dark, solid colour is a safe choice. You do not have to wear black unless the specific culture dictates it.
  • A dress of appropriate length and blouse or sweater usually is relevant.
  • Flat shoes or pumps are your best choice for shoes. Open-toed shoes or sandals may be right, depending on the venue and climate.
  • Depending on the culture, a hat may be worn.
  • Unless there are exceptional circumstances, jeans are usually considered too casual.

What Is Appropriate for a Woman to Wear to a Funeral?

A good rule of thumb is to avoid wearing flashy, glittery, sequined, or too brightly coloured.

Keep your shoulders covered, and make sure your dress or skirt reaches your knees at least.

A hat may be worn, but never a baseball cap or straw hat. Take a page from Kate Middleton's book on the subject of hats and opt for something discreet and ladylike.

Is it Okay to Wear White to a Funeral?

Well, yes… And no.

In some cultures, it's customary to wear casual white attire to a funeral. If you know that the family expects it, then by all means!

However, in the West, this isn't usually the case.

It would be pretty unusual to show up all decked out in white… but if it's tastefully done, and you know it won't offend the family, then it's your call. 

Sometimes close relations will wear a specific colour in honour of the deceased loved one. This could mean wearing white or some other colour.

But normally? Dark and conservative is the way to go.

Proper Colours to Wear to a Funeral?

Again, dark and conservative colours are customary.

This means avoiding colours like yellow, pink, baby blue, light green, orange, etc. and sticking to a darker range of colours. 

Deep green, navy blue, charcoal grey, and black are good, solid colours you can feel confident wearing.

Funeral Outfits for Women

Most common funeral etiquette practices for women to wear include a dark or black skirt suit or pantsuit; a skirt of appropriate length or pants and a top with sleeves, a blouse, or a sweater; flats or pumps.  

In some cultures, and religions women wear hats to funerals. In some cultures, black clothing is still very traditional and expected.  

If the service follows a specific religion, there may be additional guidelines for clothing, such as head coverings for both men and women or full-length skirts and tops for women.

The trouble with funeral outfits for ladies is that you're sort of spoiled for choice. There are a lot of different options out there. 

Now: the funeral outfit ideas below are just a starting point. But hopefully, they will help you pick out something you're comfortable in.

Funerals are sad affairs. 

Most of us will be confronted with that sad reality at one point in our lives, whether directly or indirectly, and then the question soon arises: 

What should I wear to a funeral? What is appropriate to wear? What is inappropriate? Do I have to wear black? 

Above all things, it's essential to show respect and keep the nature of the occasion in mind when you are deciding on your outfit.

This means, by most standards, a level of conservatism and discretion in your attire. 

Many formal funerals call for you to be dressed conservatively, all in black; some families don't mind if you come in another colour. 

Check with the family if you are unsure, and keep the culture in mind. This guide specifically deals with what is traditional in Western culture. Other cultures may differ.

An Easy Funeral Outfit With Trousers

Smart separates are an easy go-to. A grey and black outfit for a funeral would work equally with a skirt or even intelligent dark jeans instead of trousers. The turtleneck could be replaced with a blouse, shirt or plain t-shirt.

Don't forget: Standard office workwear is okay! Are you worried about not having the right dress/shirt/shoes? Don't be. Less-smart clothing like t-shirts and jeans can be balanced with other more innovative items, like a blazer.

Ladylike Outfit for Funeral Event

This classy dress is incredibly stylish whilst ticking all the boxes for proper funeral attire!

A girlish wide-brimmed hat perfectly complements this dress and looks lovely with a white and black heel. You can opt for a more muted-coloured purse, and you might also consider adding a shawl if it's a fantastic day.

Black, Long-Sleeved Dress & Cheetah Print Heels

Because this dress is very conservative, you can afford to go with a slightly more daring heel.

This is, of course, if you want to. While a black pump or simple kitten heel would be the top choice for us, this option is for the lady who loves to bring a touch of herself to every look, no matter the occasion.

Accessorise with a simple necklace and leave your hair loose or tie up in a neat chignon.

All-Black Conservative Look for Funeral

You couldn't design a more perfect funeral outfit than this one here.

With this look, you will be decked in black, quite literally, from head to toe. So a pop of bright lipstick may be just the thing you need to keep in mind.

Start with a blank tank top with a sheer button-down blouse.

These are tucked into a knee-length a-line skirt with a thin belt around the hips. Add a jacket for warmth as well as an added layer of modesty.

You can also add a pair of tights or stockings. Pair with some black pumps.

Last but not least is a black wide-brimmed hat with oversized sunglasses. Accessorise with simple studs or drop earrings. Here at Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals, we provide religious and traditional funeral services.

Elegant, Stylish Funeral Outfit for Women

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Here is a very suitable option for the lady who looks stylish regardless of the occasion.

A fitted jacket is worn over a patterned blouse tucked into a beautiful pencil skirt. Pair with beige heels.

Alternative to the Traditional Black Dress

As an alternative to the customary black attire, here is an appropriate option.

This olive green dress is modest and conservative without being flashy. Opt for an elegant silhouette that doesn't hug your body too closely, and remember your neckline.

Pair with nude heels.

Classically Traditional Funeral Outfit

If you are looking for something a little more traditional, this is an excellent example of a classic funeral outfit.

A belted black dress worn with a matching jacket and paired with nude heels. 

With long sleeves and a conservative hemline, this is the quintessential look you will often see as customary funeral attire. 

Also, check out these everyday Outfits with Black Jeans.

Modest, Well-Fitting Suit for Funeral

If you still feel confused about what is appropriate to wear to a funeral, a great concept to keep in mind is to dress like you are going to a business meeting.

You wouldn't wear a mini-skirt or a sundress to a business meeting. 

You would undoubtedly opt for something professional and conservative if you were headed to a business meeting.

Here is a beautiful example of that. This light grey suit is an excellent option if you don't want to wear black. 

It's sober and classic without being too showy. It fits well and falls to just the right place at the knee.

Pair with a black or nude heel.

Mid Length A-Line Dress

When in doubt, a high-necked dress of moderate length is always a safe bet.

This colour, while less sombre, still falls in an appropriate range. Black pumps will add a greater sense of sobriety to the outfit, but nude heels are acceptable. 

If in colder weather, you could add a coat and stockings to this outfit for added warmth. Make sure you keep jewellery minimal, and if you do wear some, opt for pearls or diamonds, something understated. 

Big tassel earrings or clanging bangles would be too distracting and flashy.

Black Suit With Pop of Colour

A short jacket, matching pencil skirt, and prettily patterned blouse is a perfect outfit for women to wear to a funeral.

Again, the do's and don'ts still apply. Black or nude heels, minimal, conservative jewellery. Remember, you can add layers depending on the weather.

Sarah Jessica Parker Inspired Outfit for Funeral

A celebrity-inspired outfit is always helpful to find fresh inspiration for specific occasions and events.

We love this outfit worn by Sarah Jessica Parker for a funeral service. With a few minor tweaks, it's something any one of us could quickly wear ourselves.

Let's start with the hair. A very high, exaggerated bun is the style of choice. 

We especially love the added accessory of a white rose in the hair. It's very event-appropriate and looks very elegant when paired with simple stud earrings.

This look also shows us how to wear white at a funeral appropriately. 

The skirt is a modest length, and a pair of white gloves match its conservatism. This is a good look for winter or fall, as the fitted jacket could easily be swapped out for a thicker coat.

Last but not least are the shoes.

A smaller pump or heel would be better suited to this look, but if you think you can pull off these heels, then more power to you.

All-Black Funeral Attire for Women

Another celebrity-inspired outfit, but one that is slightly more conservative and sober.

This look would be easy to replicate and follow all the correct rules of convention. This is a suitable outfit for fall or winter and could easily be dressed up or down according to the weather.

A simple black coat is worn over black pants and ballet flats and accessorised with essential sunglasses. Wear it with a black long-sleeved top or blouse. 

What to Wear to a Funeral in Winter for Women

Pair a black, form-fitting dress with a long cardigan or coat. 

This cowl-neck scarf is excellent for keeping warm and also very stylish. Black ankle boots and a purse are all you need to finish this look off.

How to Wear a Hat to a Funeral

This look right here is an excellent example of how to wear a hat to a funeral.

This is another outfit that works well for the colder season. 

A billowing jacket is worn with a matching pencil skirt, black turtleneck, tights, and heels—Accessorise with sunglasses, a tasteful hat, and clutch or purse.

What to Wear to a Memorial Service or "Celebration of Life."

Memorial services and celebrations of life are usually a little more casual, but you should still keep the basic rules in mind when planning your outfit. 

Avoid anything overly flashy, glittery, or too youthful (like Converse or graphic tees). Here are two outfits that are modest and sober while still keeping to a less formal style.

A Non-Traditional Funeral Service Look

While jeans should be avoided whenever possible when attending a funeral service, sometimes they can't be.

In such cases, you should keep a few things in mind if you decide to do them.

Jeans, by nature, are rather casual. So make sure you dress them up a little with an appropriate blouse and jacket. 

You should always opt for dark wash and never wear a pair that is ripped or faded.

This look is a little edgy. The leather jacket is unconventional but not immodest. And the shoes are a pop of colour that is limited enough to make them acceptable.

Kim Kardashian Inspired Funeral Look

While one wouldn't usually think of Kim Kardashian when planning a funeral outfit, this is a decent look that could work very well for the occasion.

Simply pair a black dress with a lightweight shawl or cardigan and pop on some neutral coloured heels. Sunglasses and stud earrings are great accessories for this look.

You might consider a slightly longer dress for max comfort.

Elegant and Stylish Funeral Ensemble

This is a very conservative, business-like look that could work well for a funeral or a memorial service. Simply gather together the pieces you see in this lookbook picture, and voila.

Chic and Elegant Funeral Outfit for Women

Here is an elegant and very stylish look with a perfect dress.

The length is just right, as well as the high neckline. The brooch and classic bag add elements of sophistication. 

A lime green heel brings a touch of unexpected colour. All you need to add is a pair of tiny diamond studs.

The Little Black Dress

This beautiful black dress is a good option for funeral and memorial services, proving the inability not to be versatile.

It is a simple look, so focus on fabric, cut, and silhouette. This is classy without being too revealing. Plus, you could always add a jacket, a cardigan, or a shawl for an extra layer.

Choose an understated purse and black heels. We recommend opting for pumps rather than stilettos.

Simple, Modest Funeral Look

A loose shift dress is modern and stylish without being too showy. You can pair this dress with a cute kitten heel and a dark purple clutch.

Visit Peter Tziotzis Orthodox Funerals to know more about our prepaid funeral service and find the best funeral option for your unique situation.

You can also add tights for added warmth or a pair of stockings.

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