Asking yourself what to wear to a funeral is an outfit dilemma you never want have. So when you actually find yourself in that exact position, it can feel somewhat overwhelming. Preparing to attend a funeral is an emotional experience whether it's for a loved one, immediate family member, friend, mentor or co-worker who has passed away; finding a funeral dress is always the furthest thing from your mind. This guide is designed to make it as simple and stress-free as possible.
You also might not have time to buy something new for the day, especially if the funeral is unexpected, and wandering around the shops is not somewhere you want to be when you're grieving. So, instead, your existing wardrobe is a good place to start. When sifting through your hangers, look for an outfit that is respectful to those who have passed while ensuring you still feel comfortable and yourself.
What is appropriate to wear to a funeral?
Most funerals have an all-black dress code, with many mourners opting for something smart and considered.
A funeral is also not the place to turn up a mini LBD or sheer mesh top, so hemlines should remain around or below the knee, and spaghetti straps are often a no-go. Instead, opt for a sleeveless, shoulder-length or long-sleeved dress, or pair a turtle neck with a pair of black flared trousers. Alternatively, a classic black blazer will smarten up pretty much anything.
Things to consider
It's also always a good idea to bring some sort of jacket or coat with you as it can often get cold at the venue and you can use pockets to keep tissues at the ready without digging into your handbag and missing part of the service.
Make sure to wear a pair of smart but comfortable shoes, as there's often some walking throughout the day. This doesn't mean your favourite pair of fashion trainers or strappy sandals, though – your best bet is a pair of round or pointed-toe heels or a stylish flat will be best. And if you know you might be walking on grass, leave the stilettos at home. Mary Janes, for example, are a great all-rounder that pair with everything and look stylish too.
If it is a very traditional funeral, hats or headbands could be a nice touch, just make sure to keep the proportions to a smaller scale, nobody wants a big hat in front of them at the service.
Things to avoid
While you should generally steer clear of bright colours and loud prints (unless otherwise requested), other things to avoid include very revealing or overly casual clothes, like ripped jeans, sheer tops or pieces with inappropriate cut-out details.
Accessory-wise, keep things minimal. Your favourite oversized tote can stay at home this time, try opting for a clutch or smaller handbag instead.
The same goes for jewellery - keep it classic and understated. Search your jewellery box for some timeless silver and gold pieces, such as a simple chain or simple pair of hoops.
One accessory that people are often quite lenient about at funerals is sunglasses. Pack a pair in your bag or jacket pocket just in case. Grief can work in unexpected ways and if things suddenly get too much, or if you don't want to feel watched, you can pull out your glasses and simply put them on.
Do you always have to wear black at a funeral?
It's custom to wear black to funerals, so that's always a safe option to stick with. If, however, you are usually a flamboyant dresser and wouldn't feel like yourself in an all-black look, make sure to dress in darker tones (like deep brown, navy or dark green) and avoid anything 'over the top' so as to avoid offending other mourners.
On rare occasions, some families might ask you to wear colour to celebrate the life of the deceased, which can make an otherwise morbid day and dress code a little more flexible.
Black funeral dresses
If you're still struggling with what to wear, we've rounded up a few classic black dresses – and a couple of jumpsuit options – for any last-minute buys:
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