Funerals are hard work at the best of times. It is one of the saddest occasions in one’s life, when the time comes to say goodbye to a good friend or relative, or even an acquaintance, and you may find that your outfit is the farthest thing from your mind. However, care should be taken over proper colours to wear to a funeral, to avoid causing offence or further upset to the family or other mourners.
There are a few “rules” that you would do well to bear in mind when considering your funeral attire.
Black is traditional and always suitable
Traditionally, funeral attire has always been black. As a general rule this still stands, but some families like to opt for brighter clothing if the deceased was an especially vibrant character, or had specified a No Black rule for their funeral. These days it is best to still err on the more sombre side of the colour scheme, but check before hand so you know what sort of outfit you should be looking at.
A sombre, conservative outfit is preferred to loud patterns
A conservative sort of outfit is definitely what you should be looking for, before you even think about colours. It’s best to avoid sleeveless designs as showing too much flesh at a funeral is a big no no. You could go for a sleeveless dress, but only if you have a shrug or a wrap to cover your arms.
Also check the length of your dress or skirt if you opt for that over trousers – again, you don’t want to look as if you’re dressed for a night on the town. Skintight dresses or form-hugging blouses are also not considered suitable funeral wear, for this reason.
It is best to opt for plain clothing rather than patterns – although something understated would be acceptable. Bold, bright, flashy patterns are definitely out! If you do not have anything without patterning, or you simply can’t bring yourself to wear something that is all one colour, then try to find the most muted, understated pattern you can.
Keep jewellery subtle
You might feel the need to accessorise your outfit, and if you do try to follow the “less is more” rule. A more subtle, traditional type of jewellery to accentuate your outfit is far more acceptable. Bright, flashy necklaces are out; instead you could opt for a string of pearls. Large dangly earrings, or hoop earrings, are considered too ostentatious for funerals. Small stud earrings are much more suitable.
Be careful not to ruin a well chosen outfit with a flashy umbrella
Bear the weather in mind. If it is winter or rain is forecast, you will want something to keep you dry, and accessories for funerals such as raincoats or umbrellas should also be of a sober tone. It’s no good pairing your respectful funeral attire with a hot pink umbrella or a raincoat with huge bright flowers! If you don’t have a dark coloured brolly then it is definitely worth investing.
Don’t overdo the makeup
Many of us like to wear makeup, especially to funerals, as looking our best can be a mark of respect to the deceased. However, make sure you keep the makeup muted and understated. This is not the place for those extra long false eyelashes.
Pick sensible shoes
Shoes are a big part of the outfit too – after all, you would raise a few eyebrows if you turned up to a funeral in bare feet! As with the clothes, it is best to stick to formality as far as you can, and bring out your dress shoes or smart flats. Remember that there is usually a lot of standing and walking at funerals, so you need to be comfortable – and as you may be walking on the grass beside a grave, those stilettos might not be suitable.
So there we have it. If you are attending a traditional type of funeral, the family would definitely appreciate you making the effort to wear a respectful, sombre outfit that reflects the feelings of the day.
If it has been specified that the deceased would have wanted bright colours, then all other rules go out of the window, but in general dark, subtle, understated and conservative clothes are considered best for saying one’s goodbyes.