News and Advice

What Should I Wear to a Funeral?

Losing a loved one is always a difficult process. When dealing with grief, simple tasks like getting ready in the morning can seem daunting. This is especially true on the morning of the funeral when emotions are running particularly high.

coffin bearer carrying casket at funeral

A funeral offers the chance to pay your respects and say goodbye while surrounded by your nearest and dearest. Figuring out what to wear is usually the last thing on your mind – until it comes time to the week or even day of the funeral.

Deciding on your funeral attire need not be a cause for anxiety with this helpful guide. Here, we look at the common etiquette for funeral wear, as well as dressing for funerals in various seasons.

A word on dress codes

One of the first things to consider when deciding what to wear to a funeral is the dress code. Not all funerals will have a prescribed dress code, but some do. If there is one, you will have been informed of it when you were invited to the funeral.

Some choose to celebrate their loved one’s life with a kaleidoscope of colours. Meanwhile, others may have selected the deceased’s favourite shade. Mourners can then dress in the appropriate colour to pay tribute. Always be respectful of a dress code and follow it, even if you don’t feel like wearing something bright.

If no dress code has been prescribed, you have convention to fall back on. Funerals generally have an unspoken dress code. Something dark, respectful and smart is the way to go.

What to wear to a funeral: women

Funerals in the UK are quite a formal affair and can cause quite the dressing dilemma. Black is traditionally the colour to wear to a funeral, although dark, neutral tones are also accepted. It’s important to wear something conservative out of respect, so leave that LBD on the hanger. Here are some of the best options;

  • A black knee-length dress that isn’t too revealing
  • A black knee-length skirt with a white blouse
  • A black trouser suit

You will want to keep accessories to a minimum, although at more traditional funerals you may be expected to wear a hat. Double-check with the immediate family if you are unsure. Jewellery and makeup should be muted to remain in keeping with the tone of the day. Wearing a lot of make-up can also cause problems if you end up getting tearful during the service, so is best kept to a minimum.

When it comes to shoes, wear something smart but comfortable. There is often some standing around and walking involved in a funeral. Stilettos are not the best choice for a graveside service, but trainers are far too casual. Instead, go for black pumps with a sturdy heel that you know you’ll be comfortable in for several hours.

You may also want to consider bringing along a bag for tissues and so on, but keep it small and understated. A funeral is no place for an oversized designer handbag – a small cross-body or clutch is ideal.

What to wear to a funeral: men

For men, figuring out what to wear to a funeral is much simpler. Traditional attire includes the following;

  • A smart black or darkly coloured suit
  • A white long-sleeve shirt with a collar
  • A black or darkly coloured tie
  • Smart black shoes

It is rare to see men at a funeral dressed in anything other than a suit. Black is ideal but dark navy and grey are also acceptable. Casual clothes and trainers should be left at home. You should also make an effort to look smart by shaving or trimming your beard, ironing your shirt, and polishing your shoes. 

What to wear to a funeral in the winter

Dressing for a funeral in the winter is quite simple. Follow the guidelines above with the addition of some warmer layers such as a jumper or cardigan. Women could opt for a dark turtleneck underneath a dress or paired with a skirt or trousers, while men can layer a jumper over their shirt.

Ensure you bring a coat to a funeral in the winter. You may be expected to spend some time outside, either before the service or during. Come prepared with a smart, coat that will keep you warm even if you are standing around outside for a long period of time. Ideally, this should be black or darkly coloured, but try not to worry too much if it isn’t. Coats and jackets are expensive, so it is acceptable to wear something you already own in this instance. The aim is always to look as smart and respectful as possible. 

You may also want to consider black gloves, a scarf and a warm hat.

What to wear to a funeral in the summer

There’s something about a funeral in the summer that feels wrong. Saying goodbye to a loved one is hard when the weather doesn’t match your mood, but often necessary all the same. It can be especially tough to dress appropriately for a funeral when the weather is hot. Dark colours are still expected, no matter the season.

Men should still wear a suit, regardless of the temperature, but you can remove your jacket to stay comfortable. Women should opt for a smart dress or skirt – short-sleeved or sleeveless is okay but try to avoid anything with thin spaghetti straps. A high neckline is always better than something overly low-cut. On very hot days you can forgo tights to stay cool, as long as hemlines remain below the knee. Sunglasses are generally accepted but should not be worn during the service.

Additional help and support

If you’re planning a funeral in or around Bristol, F Woodruff are on hand to ensure everything goes smoothly. Our dedicated team of funeral directors have over 75 years’ experience planning and coordinating funerals for local families. Feel free to get in touch if you need any advice and support.

Member of the National Association of Funeral Directors The national society of allied and independent funeral directors

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