News and Advice

What to Wear to a “No Black Attire Allowed” Funeral

When you’re attending a funeral, it’s important to stay respectful in both your appearance and behaviour. Wearing something appropriate is a key element of that and given the sombre nature of funerals, black is the general rule of thumb.

However, there are some funerals where black is specifically prohibited – at the request of the deceased or their loved ones.

Choosing Clothes for Funeral

Alternatively, you might not have black attire to hand in time to pay your respects and so you’re in need of alternative ideas. If you’re in either of these situations, don’t worry. In this post, we outline what to wear to a funeral that’s not black, to give you a helping hand.

No black for a funeral

One instance in which you’ll need alternatives to black for a funeral is when you don’t have a black suit, dress or black trousers to wear.

This is completely understandable. Funerals aren’t something you plan ahead for, and in many cases the loss of a loved one is completely unexpected. At the same time, we’re only human – and our sizes can fluctuate. When you pull that trusty black outfit of the wardrobe, you may well find that it’s a little tight around the waist.

With most funerals taking place within one to two weeks of a loss, finding the time to go out and buy a new suit or dress can be difficult. Not to mention the cost implications of doing so, when it’s a subdued outfit you may only wear once.

What to wear (not black)

If you can’t find anything suitable that’s black, all is not lost. For one, people will understand the difficulties above. Nobody will consider it disrespectful if you turn up in a subdued colour that isn’t black. That’s especially true if you were close to the deceased, as people will understand the tough time you’re going through.

In terms of alternatives, a deep navy blue or dark grey is equally appropriate. If all else fails, lighter grey and brown are also acceptable. If it’s a suit you’re wearing, make sure the tie is also an appropriate colour, with black the preferred choice. Again, dark blue and grey are also fine if that’s all you have. The key thing is that you look tidy, smart and like you made an effort.

What if “not black” is specified?

The other instance where you’ll need to wear something that isn’t black to a funeral is when it’s been requested. While black is the unspoken rule for funerals because of the solemnity and formality of the occasion, some people oppose this for that reason specifically. They want their funeral to be less formal, less sombre or even more colourful.

What’s important here is to check the exact wording used. Some funerals will request that no black be worn, while others will state that black isn’t necessary. If it’s the latter, for example, you will be fine to still wear a black suit.

What to wear to a “no black attire” funeral

Where “not black” is specified, there may also be additional guidance to follow. You might be asked to wear the favourite colour of the deceased, for instance. Just make sure it’s toned down, such as a red shirt or tie rather than a bold red suit jacket or trousers.

One exception to this would be if there was a specific request for everyone to wear bright colours. For instance, if a larger than life character requests bold Hawaiian shirts to be worn at their funeral to celebrate their fun personality. Either way, it’s crucial that you follow the guidance.

If the request is simply “not black” with no additional notes, it’s best to go for formal but not black. If you’re seeing someone close to the deceased before the funeral, you could always politely ask if there are colours they would prefer. However, don’t get in touch with them specifically for this reason.

If in doubt, follow our earlier advice for people who can’t find a black outfit. Grey, navy and brown are all formal, non-black colours. Muted floral patterns can also be a good choice for women, such as a floral dress or blouse.

What if I just don’t like black?

If there’s been no mention of not wearing black, and it’s simply about your personal preference, then you should wear black as normal. If you feel very strongly about it, then opt for another dark, formal colour as outlined above. Just remember that above all else, funerals are about saying goodbye, paying respects and remembering the deceased, so always be considerate in your choice of attire.

What to wear to a funeral – general rules

In terms of colours, we’ve covered the basics of what to wear to a funeral that’s not black. However, it’s worth noting some additional rules about the kind of clothes you should be wearing, regardless of colour. Turning up in a tightly fitted dress with an eye-catching designer handbag may be considered disrespectful, for example.

For women, the conventional options are a smart dress, skirt and blouse, or a trouser suit. For a dress or skirt, it’s best to go for something knee-length to keep it respectful. Similarly, jewellery and makeup should be kept to a minimum. That’s especially true for eye makeup, which can be problematic in an emotional service.

Go for smart shoes with a sturdy heel. Most funerals involve some amount of standing and walking, so you’ll want something comfortable.

On the other hand, men should wear a suit with a long-sleeve shirt. Trousers, a shirt and a tie are acceptable if the weather is too warm for a suit jacket. At some summer funerals, a short-sleeve shirt may also be appropriate, although this is less formal.

Shoes should always be smart, with trainers a no-go. Be sure to polish your shoes and iron your shirt to keep things smart, as well as shaving or trimming your beard. Again, it’s all about being neat and tidy.

Help and support with funeral planning

What to wear is just one small detail of a funeral. At F. Woodruff, we understand how overwhelming funeral planning can be at such a difficult time. If you would like any help and support, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced funeral directors in Bristol.

From elegant coffins to cremation and burial to urns, gravestones and floral tributes, we can assist you every step of the way with tailoring a funeral service that is right for you and your loved one. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.

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

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