What to wear to a funeral? It’s probably the last thing you want to think about at a time like this but it is important if you want to be respectful and comfortable.
Can I only wear black? How formal? How revealing? These are questions you may ask yourself if the unfortunate occasion arrises.
The general rule is that you want to be as inconspicuous and understated as possible while still looking presentable. It’s not respectful to look like a slob but it’s also disrespectful to make a show with your outfit. This isn’t a time to look trendy or too stylish. You want to blend and not draw extra attention to yourself.
Nowadays I think it’s perfectly acceptable to wear other colors besides black. Although I still recommend keeping the color pallet dark and conservative. Think navy blue, dark grey, a deep green or purple. Try to avoid red, even if it’s dark it tends to be too dramatic. Remember it’s about blending. I would totally avoid pastels and bright hues, unless they make up a very small percentage of the outfit.
Some more traditional or formal funerals may specify an all black dress code. Always respect the wishes if they are made.
If in doubt always go with a dark grey or black. You’ll never feel out of place. If you don’t have something in this color try throwing a black tailored jacket over a dress of an appropriate length (no more than an inch or two above the knee).
You don’t have to dress as formal as you would for a cocktail party but it’s not a casual occasion. No denim, no active wear, nothing too baggy. You want to look put together. Think job interview or sunday mass (30 years ago). Even if it’s not a religious memorial it’s still a conservative occasion. Pants are completely acceptable as long as they’re well fitted and worn with a nice jacket or quality blouse.
This is one of the times that you will want to keep covered. Nothing too low-cut, short, or tight. You want your clothes to be well fitted but not revealing. Cap sleeves or longer are appropriate. Sleeveless may be acceptable in some places, especially if the weather is warm but it’s always safer to cover with a shawl or jacket. If wearing thin straps, strapless or off-the-shoulder then definitely be sure to cover.
Keep jewelry simple and tasteful and if you’re going to wear sunglasses keep them neutral. Black or dark brown and no crystal embellishments or colorful lenses.
Hats and gloves are a classic look but keep in mind the group that’s attending. You don’t want to look too glamorous if you think it may be a casual crowd.
Shoes should also be understated and tasteful. Avoid mega platforms or gaudy embellishments. If you think you may be standing outside (burial ceremony) then opt for elegant flats or low broad heels that won’t stick in the grass. If it’s summertime avoid flip flops and go for a quality leather sandal, although I must say a covered toe is always a classier option. I shouldn’t even have to mention sneakers…
Opt for waterproof mascara, unless you have a heart of stone (kidding). But if you think there’s a chance you’ll cry be sure to keep the eye makeup light and waterproof. Chose a nude or soft pink lip (not the day for bright red) and add a touch of blusher. Skip the shimmer and shine, it’s a day for a neutral almost bare look.
It’s a smart idea to always have an outfit prepared for such an occasion as they tend to be last minute and stressful. What you wear shouldn’t be the main concern, it’s about paying your respects and showing support, so it’s nice to have this part settled and out of the way.
HOMEWORK: Even if it’s not an immediate necessity (which I sincerely hope it’s not) then go through your closet and select an outfit that will be appropriate for such an occasion.