What Not to Wear to a Funeral

black dress on a hanger

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

If you're getting ready to attend a funeral, you might be wondering what you should or shouldn't wear. It's important to dress in a manner that is respects the occasion.

There are quite a few myths about funerals that you don't need to worry about. The most important thing to remember is that you should never call attention to yourself with your attire. The whole focus should be on what you're there for. 


5 Simple Tips for Getting Dressed for a Funeral

Be Conservative

Because a funeral is a somber occasion, it is best to dress in conservative colors and styles. You don’t have to wear all black, but it is acceptable to do so.

You will probably want to avoid a bright floral dress or wild print or neon necktie, unless the family of the deceased asks you to. It is also not appropriate to show too much skin, so don't wear something with a plunging neckline or short hemline. 

What Women Should Not Wear to a Funeral

Avoid mini-skirts, low-cut blouses or dresses, and spandex. You don't want to draw attention to yourself. Women may wear skirts and blouses, dresses, or pantsuits that don't emphasize your curves, cleavage, or too much leg. 

Keep your accessories simple. You may find yourself walking in the grass or on uneven ground, so leave your stilettos for clubbing and wear more sensible flats or low-heeled shoes. Don't wear a floppy hat that's meant for a day at the beach. If you wear a hat, make sure it doesn't call attention to you or block someone's view of the officiant. Jewelry should be understated, so leave your noisy bangle bracelets and sparkling necklaces at home.

What Men Should Not Wear to a Funeral

Men shouldn't wear sports caps or anything with writing on it. Leave your graphic and printed T-shirts in the drawer and opt for something more subtle and conservative. Don't add a vibrant printed tie, unless there is a reason to do otherwise. A conservative suit or tailored pants and a blazer are appropriate for most funerals.


There are exceptions to the above. It is acceptable to dress in a military uniform for the funeral of a veteran. If your religion or the religion of the deceased calls for a specific style of dress, follow the rules. 

Many people consider funerals a celebration of life rather than a sad end-of-life occasion. If this is the case, the family of the deceased may ask people to dress in a more upbeat manner. Heed their request. If you're unsure about what to wear, don't be afraid to ask. That's better than showing up in inappropriate attire. 

what to wear to a funeral

Illustration: Catherine Song. © The Spruce, 2018

More Things to Consider When Dressing for a Funeral

As you choose something to wear to a funeral, there are several things you need to take into account:

  • This is not the time or place to show off your sexiest outfit.
  • Avoid cropped tops or low-cut pants.
  • You shouldn't wear anything that calls attention to your attire or requires constant adjusting.
  • Keep your jewelry simple and understated.
  • Follow the dress code for the church if the funeral service is being held in the sanctuary.
  • If you are unsure how to dress, think about what you would wear to an office job interview and wear that.
  • Ladies may wear a sleeveless dress with a tailored jacket, sweater, or shawl over it.
  • A pantsuit or dress pants and a jacket are now acceptable for funerals.
  • You don't have to go out and buy a new outfit. Look in your closet and put pieces together to make an appropriate ensemble. Remember that a nice jacket can complete your outfit and make it funeral ready.
  • Don't wear anything that makes noise. The clinging sound of stacked bangle bracelets is disruptive and shows a lack of respect for the occasion.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes. Either flats or heels are appropriate. Stilettos are not. 
  • If the survivors request more festive attire, you may wear bright colors. However, you still need to avoid showing too much skin or wearing anything that calls too much attention to yourself.
  • Keep your makeup to a minimum. If you have a tendency to cry at funerals, make sure your mascara is waterproof.
  • If you have tattoos that may offend others, cover them up. 
  • Sunglasses are appropriate for outdoor funerals. The best ones to wear would be those without flashy embellishment. The plainer the better.
  • Keep your hairstyle as simple and natural as possible.
  • Don't wear perfume or scented body lotions. Some people are highly allergic, and you don't want to cause others to sneeze and cough during the services.

Dressing appropriately for any occasion is important, including funerals. It shows respect for the occasion and helps prevent unnecessary drama and embarrassment.