We live in a world where anything goes. And yet I’m still surprised at some of the things people wear; jeans and sweatshirts to church, shorts at a fine restaurant on a Saturday night, and flip flops for all occasions. But when it comes to funerals, most of us sense that there are some rules of protocol that should be followed.

A friend recently shared that she attended a funeral and was surprised that a teenage family member wore casual clothing and flip flops. I was surprised myself when attending a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery to see the thirty-year old daughter of the deceased wearing a bright and low cut dress that showed her cleavage. So it’s no wonder that those of us attending funerals might think, what should we wear?

We should dress in a way that shows respect so it’s safe to err on the conservative side and avoid bright colors, bright prints, and anything flashy or glittery. Stay away from the casual and opt for something on the dressier side. You don’t have to stick to black but choose darker or muted colors, such as, grays, dark blues, or browns. Women can wear pants, skirts, blouses, jackets, sweaters, or dresses, opting for a pulled together look. No sneakers, flip flops or too casual shoes. Men can wear slacks, sport jackets, or suits and appropriate footwear. The look you want is non obtrusive.

Funerals are not a time to be conspicuous; it’s a time to blend in with the other mourners.


Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle StoreClick here to order.


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Comment by Misty Carrol on September 14, 2010 at 2:30am
I agree that some things are inappropriate to wear to funerals, but I disagree a little on colors. Funerals now days are not usually so much about mourning the deceased, but celebrating their life. When my grandmother passed away, she loved flowers & my Mother & Aunt & Uncle ask that everyone please wear something lively like the flowers she loved so much. I had a wonderful uncle pass away a couple weeks ago & you could tell the people that knew him well, by what they were wearing. Those that were aquaintances wore all black & those that new the vibrant person he was had on more colorful clothes (most wore black or gray pants or skirts, but a colorful blouse/shirt.) I have told my family, should anything happen to me, make sure that no one wears black. I don't want anyone to "mourn," over my death I want them to celebrate my life & knowing that I will be in Heaven. I do think it depends on religious beliefs & the persons funeral you are attending. I guess black is a good color if you have no idea, but at some funerals they may be the one sticking out.
Comment by delores harris on August 14, 2010 at 10:54am
at the funeral of my grown son i requested all the family to wear white
Comment by Krystal Lane on July 30, 2010 at 10:14am
I believe it depends on the situation what you should wear. When my dad and grandmother died I wore a brown dress with pink flowers because they both knew I liked pink and would want me to wear something I like. However if I was going to the funeral of a friend or someone I barely knew I would wear a black skirt and nice shirt or a nice black dress. I don't think flip flops are a problem because if you are looking at my feet; you aren't worried about the fact that I am grieving. Shoes shouldn't matter; you should wear what makes you comfortable.
Comment by Dignity Memorial NC on July 8, 2010 at 8:52am
Thanks for this post -- it's a very important question that I think no one really knows how to ask. From what we've seen with our families, dark, solid colors work well, as patterns can overwhelm and draw attention off of the ceremony and onto you. But it's also important to be yourself, too, in what you wear, as you're honoring your own memory and experiences with your lost loved one as well.
Comment by Randolph L. Schrader on July 1, 2010 at 10:49pm
You are very welcome Robbie. So sorry for your loss sarah. Thank you for sharing your story. Hugs to all. Hugs are good.
Comment by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 1, 2010 at 8:43pm
Thanks for sharing such a loving tribute Randolph.
Comment by Randolph L. Schrader on July 1, 2010 at 8:21pm
When my wife of 44 years died suddenly 14 months ago on her birthday, my family and her friends honored her at the funeral service in the following manner.She loved jeans, Nascar and "heavy metal and hard rock" music.She worked in a factory and could play music. She had the important job as inspector/packer at the end of the production line.She found out that if she played that music, her boss never came around. He didnt like that music.So we all wore, jeans,nascar shirts, and differant rock band shirts. Her nascar driver was Jeff Burton. I wore a Jeff Burton shirt. She was "cool" and my pal. She was an organ donor and I was informed she helped over 75 people. Bless her heart. I died when she died. Hugs to all. Hugs are good.
Comment by Robbie Miller Kaplan on July 1, 2010 at 6:29pm
What a lovely tribute Sarah! Thanks for sharing it with us.
Comment by sarah omeally on July 1, 2010 at 5:09pm
When my mother passed to honor her memory we all wore her favorite color in some way, a scarf, tie, shirt, blouse, jacket etc. She too was wearing purple. It was so beautiful and we were so proud. To further honor her and help recognize her family we had simple white cancer ribbons made and wore them on our lapels. The grandchildren felt so special.

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