Funeral Attire

Some of you that know me personally may know that my sister’s husband passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago.  He was only 64 and and it was an incredibly sad time for our close-knit family.  In the first few days after his death, through the week of mourning and services, the support of friends and family to my sister was truly remarkable.  She was never left alone. Homemade minestrone soup, sandwich platters, award winning lasagna,  more food than we could fit in the fridge kept us all comforted and strong as we made the necessary preparations for the wake and funeral.

Preparations included planning what to wear. You might not be surprised that I offered to help my sister, niece, and daughter to plan their outfits for these services.  After taking a look at what they had in their closets, it was clear that we needed to go shopping.  My sister, who lives in sneakers or boots, pulled black leather open toe wedges out of her closet. No Shelley. Too casual. You need big girl shoes.  She also needed a dress that was more covered up than what she had.  With very limited time, we all piled into my car and headed to DSW and The Nordstrom Rack in Burlington. I barreled down the aisles of shoes knowing exactly what I was looking for, then did the same at the Rack looking for conservative dresses.  In under an hour, all three of them had success at both places and bought items that they can definitely wear again. An added plus: it was good bonding time. 🙂

Dressing appropriately for a  funeral or wake is not too difficult.  The first and biggest step is acknowledging that what you wear matters. It does. It is a sign of respect to the solemn occasion, to the departed, to the family.  It is a way of showing that you care, a way of expressing yourself.  Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Just because it’s a black dress, doesn’t mean it’s for a funeral.  The dress/skirt length should hit the knee, should not be too tight, should never be low cut.  Sleeveless sheath styles are acceptable.  Suits are acceptable.  Dress pants, yes, leggings, no. Regardless of your age, think conservative, not something you would want to wear on a Friday night.
Pinterest photo. Perfect simple dress and shoes, no loud accessories.
  • Wear a modest shoe.  A classic black pump, a nude pump, or a low heeled slingback shoe are all perfect if it is your family’s service.  If you are attending the funeral/wake of a friend you need not wear a dressy shoe, but never wear flip flops, sneakers, or your sexiest party shoes.
  • Choose dark colors. Black is always a safe choice, but navy, gray, or any deep colors are acceptable. Avoid loud prints or anything that draws attention. If you are attending the wake/funeral of a friend, you need not dress as a mourner, but steer away from hot pinks, large polka dots, tie dye, or anything that looks like party attire, casual wear, or sports bar gear. Think plain. 
Pinterest photo
  • Accessorize minimally. This is not the time to pile on the bling.  Pearls are always a perfect choice, simple earrings, nothing too distracting.
  • Men:  wear a dress shirt, but even better, wear a sport jacket too.

While my family’s clothes shopping experience ended well, it is always better to be prepared in advance and not have these added tasks during an emotional time.  Your lifestyle may not call for this type of attire on a daily basis, but none of us are immune to these events, and we never know when they will be.  🙁

Do you have appropriate conservative attire in your closet?  If not, it might be something you keep in mind the next time you go shopping.

Blessings to all.

candy in your inbox

Enter your name and email below to get notifications
of new blog articles sent via email.


  • Candy,
    I’m so very sorry for your sister’s loss. I hate to say it, but I’m always prepared for a funeral. My grandmother thought it best to be prepared for any and all occasions, so she took me shopping frequently. We shopped before we needed the outfit. We were always on the lookout for the perfect suit or dress, therefore my closet will never be without a black silk suit.
    Again, I’m so very sorry for your family’s loss.

    • Thank you Lori. Your grandmother sounds like a wise woman!

  • Was hoping to see a picture of you ladies in your new outfits at the end. Can you post one?

  • Candy,
    So sorry for your family. So difficult to experience loss of beloved family so quickly. Thoughts and prayers to you and your famiily.
    So nice you were able to be such a great support to your sister in her time of need.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top