Funeral Attire for Summer
Dressing for a funeral can be difficult at any time of the year, but summer presents unique challenges. When the weather is warm and many memorial services are held outdoors, the traditional funeral attire of suits and heavy fabrics—usually in sun-soaking black—can quickly become uncomfortable. Although you will want to leave the beachwear at home, there are a few ways you can adhere to proper funeral etiquette regarding clothing while still making allowances for the weather.
Standard Funeral Attire
Most people agree that the traditional funeral wear of all black is on its way out. Instead of full mourning from head to toe, most people today settle on wearing “church attire” in more somber hues of black, gray, navy, or even khaki. This typically includes skirts and blouses (or slacks and blouses) for women, and shirtsleeves for men. Jewelry is kept to a minimum, and all clothing should refrain from being too revealing. Tasteful and slightly on the side of formal, these outfits convey respect without requiring you to go out and purchase a new wardrobe for the funeral.
In the summer, suit jackets and long dresses with proper hosiery may need to be set aside—especially if you will be participating in an outdoor burial that may or may not have covered seating. Because funerals and burials can take some time to complete (and because you never want to rush your grief), sunstroke can and does occur.
What to Wear to a Summer Funeral
- Airy, breathable fabrics
- Pairings of dark and light (a white dress shirt and dark slacks can significantly reduce your discomfort)
- Short-sleeved tops
- Knee-length skirts
- Walking shorts (in a higher-end fabric)
- Removable layers
- Large hats (to provide shade)
- Open-toed dress shoes
- Dressy sandals
You should also plan on carrying water to drink and possibly even bring a sunshade. Ideally, cemeteries will prepare for the warmer weather by having these things on hand (especially for elderly guests at the funeral), but this is not always the case.
It may also be appropriate to bring items such as:
- A fan
- Bug spray/insect repellent
- Parasol or umbrella
If you do decide to bring any of these items, be sure and select ones that are just one color. Now is not the time to bring out your new paisley umbrella or a pair of new red sunglasses. While you want to stay comfortable, you also want to blend in.
A funeral is not the place to make a fashion statement or try to attract attention. The focus should always be on the deceased and his or her family. However, you don’t have to be uncomfortable for the sake of fitting in—choose funeral clothes that are understated, elegant, and, above all, weather appropriate.
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By Amy Johnson