Your Funeral Attire Guide: Do You Know What to Wear and What to Avoid?

selecting the right shoes for a funeral

Funeral attire expectations have changed over the years but dressing in a way that demonstrates your respect and sympathy is always in good taste.

Still, it can be confusing as to whether your existing wardrobe will suffice or if you should make a trip to the mall before an upcoming funeral event.

We have assembled the following collection of tips, guidelines, and suggestions to help you choose an appropriate outfit for funerals, memorial services, and celebration of life events.


What colors are appropriate?

  • Black is always ideal. Whether the affair is formal, casual, or contemporary, you will never look out of place in traditional black attire.
  • Dark blue and deep shades of grey are also highly appropriate choices.
  • Brown shades, lighter grays, and earthy colors are acceptable for most funeral services.
  • In most cases, brightly colored garb such as yellows, oranges, and reds should be avoided. There are exceptions, however, as some celebrations of life and less formal events may request that guests don favorite colors of the departed. In this case, it is acceptable to incorporate a blouse, tie, or other clothing items in deference to the wishes of the family and/or their cultural traditions.
  • White is generally acceptable for accent pieces and shirts are worn under darker colors, such as a white dress shirt with a suit and tie. In certain cultures and some parts of the American south, white is sometimes worn to symbolize purity and rebirth.
  • If you are unsure of what to wear or are unfamiliar with cultural norms that may exist, it is perfectly acceptable to ask a family member if there is preferred attire for the funeral.


Ultra-casual clothing is never suitable.

Ripped jeans, shorts, tee shirts, baseball caps, and flip-flops are no-no’s regardless of how informal the funeral event may be. Today’s celebration of life events and memorial services frequently indicate a less formal vibe but it is still wise to select practical clothing. A collared shirt, such as a dress shirt or polo, and khaki pants, is a better choice and you will allow you to feel more at ease.


Stick to the conservative side.

Funerals are reverent events so forego the nightclub attire. Sheer tops, short hemlines, and spaghetti straps should be avoided. Instead, opt for more traditional garments such as a simple black dress or a sweater and pants ensemble.


Consider the season and climate.

Like any event, the season and weather will play a role in what you wear and a funeral is no different. If the event is in the spring or summer or the climate is especially warm, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen are good choices. If the funeral is in the fall or winter, adding a layer of outerwear is sensible. A cardigan or traditional wool coat, for example, is a suitable option.


Select your shoes based on comfort, not fashion.  

Funeral services, burials, and visitations can be lengthy affairs that may involve a lot of sitting, standing, and walking. This is particularly true if you plan to attend the graveside service. Shoes with ultra-high heels or strappy sandals will leave your feet aching and make an already tough day that much worse. If you know a particular pair of shoes is uncomfortable, don’t even think about wearing them regardless of how attractive they may be.


Don’t overthink it. 

There’s no need to fret about what you should wear to the funeral. What truly matters is that you are making an effort to be there, celebrate the life of a loved one, and demonstrate your support for your grieving family and friends.


We hope you found these guidelines helpful. For more information about funeral attire, or if you require assistance with funeral arrangements, please contact our caring professionals anytime.


About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit

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