Look sharp without attracting attention away from the deceased. A black suit, white shirt and black necktie are a gentleman’s best bet.
Choosing the correct attire to wear often poses specific challenges to men of all ages. However, when it comes to the clothes worn at a funeral service, the challenges are multiplied.
There are many men who wonder if there is a certain style or color of clothes that are more appropriate for funeral wear. While there are some traditions and cultural considerations to bear in mind, you have a fairly wide range of attire from which you can make your clothing choices.
What do you wear when you are attending the funeral of a friend or relative?
Must you sacrifice comfort for clothes that feel stiff and uncomfortable?
Are certain colors going to help you fit in or make you “stick out” like a sore thumb?
Your guide-words should include discrete, modest, simple and conservative.
Remember that a funeral is one of those events that should remain dignified throughout the service. Formality is the rule of thumb, and this includes your overall demeanor, attitude and style of dress. Blue jeans, shorts, sleeveless t-shirts, bathing suits and distressed jeans are widely viewed as unacceptable choices to wear to a funeral.
Modest and conservative clothing choices will always be considered as correct fashion at funerals and other church-based events. You are a guest at this service, and you do not want it to appear as though you are competing for the “starring role”.
Tips On What To Wear
1. Finding clothing that fits your body. That means no baggy pants, droopy cuffs or ripped jeans. Get your suit tailored.
2. Making sure that your clothes are neatly pressed. If you don’t know how to iron, now’s a great time to learn. Or invest in getting your suit professionally cleaned at the local dry cleaner.
3. Selecting clothes and accessories that complement each other. Remember to keep these accessories to a minimum, doing so will help you avoid drawing too much attention. In terms of too much and just enough, think of interview attire.
One question I get asked a lot when it comes to accessories, is if a pocket square is appropriate to wear a funeral. The truth is, a plain white handkerchief in a square fold is perfectly fine. You’re more than likely to end up using it, or giving it to someone else near you. Just remember no colors, no shin silks, and no fancy folds.
4. Opting for more conservative fashions and subdued colors. Most men wear a black suit, white shirt and black tie to a funnel. However, if you only have a few neckties, colors such as maroon and navy will do. However, consider the pattern of the necktie.
Stay away from any ties that have busy patterns or bold designs; simple and subtle is essential. If you don’t own a black suit, dark navy and charcoal (dark gray) are your next best options.
6. Refraining from the use of strong colognes and aftershaves.
Suits are a very traditional choice when it comes to a gentleman’s choice of funeral attire. A dress suit offers a nod to the somber tone of the event, is respectful and also allows you to feel neatly dressed. For many men, a suit gives them an extra boost of confidence in their appearance.
The color of the suit is most typically black because this color is closely linked with mourning and grief. Other colors for traditional funeral clothing include dark gray and navy blue. Even subdued patterns such as houndstooth could be considered suitable for attending a funeral service. Avoid pinstripe suits when possible.
As an alternative to a dress suit gentlemen can also choose to wear a sportcoat and slacks. The same color guidelines apply to these clothing choices.
Do you have other alternatives to a sport coat, slacks and dress suits? You may want to wear a black turtleneck and blazer with a matching pair of black slacks. This style of clothing still accommodates some of your personal fashion choices while still being respectful of the occasion.
Most gentlemen shy away from pastels or bright colors when selecting appropriate funeral wear. A white shirt is going to be an ideal choice, but dark colored shirts can be paired with a dark suit and worn to most funerals.
Even if your fashion preference is for neon colors, bold patterns or unusual garments you may want to play it safe and choose more traditional attire to wear to a funeral. Conservative men’s clothing is always going to help you fit in at any somber gathering.
If you select a suit, then you will want to add a necktie or bowtie to complete the look. Once again the color choice should be a neutral, dark shade such as black, gray, navy or brown.
Hats are typically not worn by men who are attending a funeral service. A head covering may be appropriate at an Orthodox Jewish funeral, but these would be provided for you at the time when you are ready to enter the synagogue.
Jewish men wear yarmulkes instead of standard hats, and the synagogue officials will be happy to provide you with an appropriate head covering if necessary.
Some Funeral Styles Are Different
There is certainly a variety of options when it comes to “funeral” fashions for gentlemen. Casual attire is becoming more acceptable, particularly among the younger generations. Though, I would always advise you to put your best foot forward when it comes to your attire.
It is more common to see men wearing just a shirt and slacks when they are attending funerals, weddings, graduations or other large gatherings. Long sleeved shirts are often preferred, but a short sleeved shirt may be necessary if the weather is excessively warm.
Plus today there is a trend toward creating unique and personalized funeral services. In some instances, the deceased individual has requested the colors or clothing that they prefer to be worn by those who attend the service. Perhaps the clothing choice calls for casual fashion styles or a specific color. In these situations, it is quite proper to select clothes that honor the wishes of the deceased.
The Fundamental Fashion Rules Are Simple
Funeral wear should be neat, clean and circumspect.
If you choose clothing that is relatively conservative, then your style of dress is not going to attract any unwanted “side-eye” glances or snarky comments. The family does not need a guest to become a distraction during the funeral service.
You do not want to deflect the attention and focus of others who are attending the funeral. What you want to be is a supportive and caring individual whose presence will help honor the memory of the dearly departed.