Funeral Dress & Attire Guide

A funeral service offers a gathering place for tender goodbyes and for sharing fond memories. On such a significant occasion, it’s often difficult to focus on details such as what to wear to a funeral. However, the funeral attire we choose reflects how we feel about the occasion and the type of honour we wish to show to our loved one and their family.

When choosing what to wear to a funeral, consider clothing that shows respect for the loved one you are remembering. With this in mind, you can dress in appropriate funeral attire no matter the style of service, from a formal church gathering to a casual, beachside celebration.

While funerals have historically warranted a traditionally black colour scheme, the rules of funeral attire are no longer as rigid, and a wider range of dress is now perfectly acceptable for most funeral services. As they have become more personal and meaningful, so too can your choice of clothing. Show you care by dressing as nicely as possible while still keeping in mind that personal touches or expressions of love are appropriate and often well-received by family members.

Dressing with respect

What does it mean to dress respectfully? For both men and women, dressing for the occasion calls for modest clothing in sophisticated colours. Consider the location of the service, the weather forecast if it is to be held outdoors and any requests of the family including favorite colours of the loved one whose life you are celebrating.

When in question, just remember that your hope is to honour that person and the occasion with your choice of attire. This may mean erring on the side of overdressing rather than underdressing, or choosing modesty over a more revealing piece of clothing. If the funeral service represents a culture or faith that you are unfamiliar with, you might consider discreetly checking with a family member or funeral director to determine the appropriate expectations for dress. Be sure to respect the rituals and customs of the family for whom the service is held.

A good rule of thumb, in most cases, is to avoid any colours or prints that are too flashy or attention-grabbing, unless a specific colour has been requested by the family. At a funeral service, the only statement you will want to make is a statement of honour and respect for the person in memoriam.

Woman puts Hawaiian lei around a man's neck at an outdoor memorial
Two men and two ladies talking at a tailgate celebration.

Adding a personal touch

Don’t be afraid to add a personal touch to your funeral attire, especially if you are attending a celebration of life service. With themed memorial celebrations on the rise, you may be able to more personally honour your loved one with theme-appropriate attire. For instance, if the memorial service for a dedicated veteran includes recognition of military service and an abundance of patriotic colouring, you might choose to wear a nice navy blue dress or slacks. Or, if the theme gives a nod to your loved one’s passion for flower gardening, honour them by wearing a special but tasteful floral tie, scarf or skirt. Your clothing can be as unique as the personality of the beloved individual you are honouring, as long as it remains tasteful and respectful.

Children can also take part in this by wearing subtly themed outfits or a hair bow in a favourite colour. Just be sure to avoid anything too casual, like T-shirts or flip-flops, unless the service details specify this kind of funeral attire.

Plan to arrive in clothing that shows your respect and reflects the meaningfulness of the occasion. Get in contact with us if you’d like to know more about personalizing a funeral or celebration of life service for yourself or a loved one.


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