While it’s traditional to wear dark sombre clothing, the ways we mark someone’s death are changing, with personalised funerals and celebrations of life often reflecting how someone lived their life.
As Australia becomes more culturally diverse, funeral tradition – and funeral attire – can vary according to faith and lifestyle. You’ll find more detailed guides to funerals of faith
Black has long been typically worn by mourners at a traditional funeral, but dark shades such as navy or grey are also appropriate. A smart work suit or outfit is usually acceptable.
Whether you have a designer suit, or pick out an outfit from the clothes you have in a subdued colour, what’s really important is to look smart and well-groomed. It’s a gesture of respect to the bereaved family and to the person who has died.
Funeral attire 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.
Even if the funeral you’re attending has a specified dress code that is more relaxed, it’s still important to ensure that your funeral attire won’t make you the centre of attention.
and culture on the Funeral Guide website.
What to wear to a funeral
At the traditional funeral most Australians are familiar with, it is respectful to wear smart, well-pressed clothes in a dark colour.
- Black is the rule of thumb
Unless stated otherwise, black is a good place to start your funeral outfit quest. A classic pair of pants and a dressy black top or shirt is a good starting point, as is a simple black dress. Don’t fret about making sure your accessories are black — no one will wonder why you’re wearing cream coloured shoes or a red bag.
- Think about whose funeral you’re going to
Your outfit should be considered depending on whose funeral you’re attending. Were they a conservative, elderly member of the community who you didn’t know well? Were they a close friend of yours, whose wishes you know yourself? Tailor your outfit depending on the culture and the vibe of the funeral. Just like you wouldn’t show up to a party in a ballgown, don’t go wearing a suit when the dress code is beachy.
- Think about where the funeral is
Consider your outfit in relation to the location of the funeral. Many funerals happen on or near beaches, with the intention of walking along the sand or in the water. If so, make sure you wear easy to remove shoes and a shorter hemline. On the other hand, if the funeral is held at a place of worship, make sure you’re dressed a little more conservatively.
What Men Should Wear
The standard clean, pressed and tucked in suit will go a long way. Traditionally, black is the most appropriate colour for most ceremonies. Men should never wear jeans, caps, runners/trainers or short-sleeved shirts. Polished and un-scuffed dress shoes or loafers with a good shirt and perhaps a jacket is best, but make sure you check the weather before you wear a jacket. If you are a pallbearer, definitely wear a suit or dark sports coat and tie.
What Women Should Wear
Women should avoid any outfits that are revealing or flashy, too casual or overly festive. Of course, black is also appropriate to wear for women. Some good outfits for a woman to wear would be a skirt or pant suit, with a nice blouse. Women in many cultures choose to wear hats or veils to funerals, as well.
Some people believe that a splash of colour can help to celebrate a person’s life while you mourn their death. While you shouldn’t wear anything too outlandish, a subtle red or pale blue scarf may be a welcome and tasteful accessory for the day.
Many religions hold different traditions on what people should wear to funeral ceremonies.
For example, in Jewish culture, it is standard for you to either rip your clothing or wear a piece of ripped fabric pinned to your clothing in order to demonstrate your grief.
For Quaker and Buddhist ceremonies, the mourners should wear white. In Buddhist tradition, the colour of death is white, not black, which is why people should only wear white to a ceremony.
If you aren’t sure about a particular traditional, make sure you speak with your funeral director or someone close to the family for more information and guidance. Just make sure that you don’t overbear the people who are closest to the deceased.
As well as religious traditions, make sure that you consider any personal requests that the family and friends of the deceased have made. For example, they may have chosen a meaningful colour theme or requested that nobody wears black.
Alex Gow Funerals has been helping families throughout Queensland create meaningful tributes to their loved ones since 1840. If you require assistance with funeral arrangements, please do not hesitate to contact us or call our Brisbane head office on 07 3073 4816. We also have an online pre-arrangement form you can fill out.