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What to wear to a funeral

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Mathilde Dugueyt - published on 07/20/17

Tips to help you focus on the importance of the day.

Going to a funeral is a time to pay your respects to a loved one, or a close friend, so the last thing on your mind may be what you should be wearing on this sad occasion. However, whether it’s a cremation or a burial, there is an unstated dress code to follow.


Dinner Reception

Read more:
Why you should organize a reception for loved ones after a funeral

While more attention is paid to the ceremony itself (the readings, the music, the prayers… ) than to the style of the guests, the way we dress for a funeral is a sign of respect towards the deceased and their loved ones. So we’ve come up with a few tips to help you focus on saying your goodbyes while making sure you look appropriate.

Minimalism is key

What you should wear depends on your relationship with the deceased, your age, and your overall style. The main guideline is to stay discreet and respectful. Obviously, provocative clothing is a big no-no, so be careful of your hemline, any low-cut necklines, and pants that are too tight. Shoulders, stomachs, and knees should be covered, especially in the church. Go for simple jewelry rather than loud accessories. For men, a button-down shirt is a sign of respect, and if you are going for a tie, choose one with a subtle pattern, not overly bright or decorated with a loud print. Also opt for smart pants to avoid looking too casual.


Dinner Reception

Read more:
Why you should organize a reception for loved ones after a funeral

Consider the accessories too

Discreet sunglasses are tolerated at a funeral during the summer months, or to help conceal tears, but they are not meant to be a fashion statement. Although popular in the past, hats and veils are now a little dated. Also, consider a raincoat or black umbrella in case of a downpour. And if you need to don some winter accessories to keep warm, select neutral and somber colors.

Keeping in mind the need to remain discreet, make-up should also be kept to a minimum, so stick to nude colors, and if you have to wear mascara, go for waterproof. Lipstick should be kept light and understated. For comfort, wear flats or shoes with a minimal heel — not only will this be useful when walking among the uneven graves, it will also avoid disturbing others with the clicking of your heels in church. Remember, sneakers should also be left at home!

An appropriate outfit for a child

Generally speaking, children’s attire follows the same rules as that of their parents. If your daughter is wearing a dress, go for simplicity, avoiding glitter, ruffles, and those favorite cartoon characters. And if your child is wearing pants, keep any T-shirts or polo shirts simple.




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How to wear neutral or brighter colors

In most cases, it’s better to go for neutral colors. Black is a common choice for mourning and loss, but if you don’t have that option you can wear other respectful colors such as grays, browns, or dark blues. Among certain families, light colors, such as whites or beiges, are perceived as a sign of hope, peace, and an homage to life. At the funeral of a child, white is often requested by families as a sign of purity and innocence.

Some families ask for a particular dress code to pay respects to their loved one, such as bright colors for someone who was full of life. A touch of color is always welcome as long as it is a deeper tone and kept discreet. Finally, when it comes to patterns keep them to an absolute minimum, and prefer solids where possible.

Most importantly, don’t forget to have a handkerchief or a pack of tissues at hand.

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