What Not to Wear to a Funeral
The fastest way to give offense at a funeral is to wear something inappropriate, and guidelines of what not to wear to a funeral often outline the most obvious funeral attire no-nos. Things like excessively short skirts, shorts, flip flops, casual jeans, or clothes that are dirty or torn are all commonly avoided—and with good reason. Anything that belongs at a beach or in a nightclub isn’t right for the formal and somber setting of a funeral.
While most of us can be expected to avoid the more obvious funeral attire pitfalls, there are also more subtle fashion choices you should avoid. Follow our what not to wear to a funeral guide below to ensure that you present yourself in a way that is respectful and appropriate for the day.
Length of Skirts, Shorts, Shirts
A funeral isn’t the right place to show too much skin. Even in cases where the deceased was young or a lover of fashion, the default should always be toward modesty.
Women’s skirts and dresses should hit at least the knee. It is okay to wear form-fitting dresses (a business-casual dress is considered a classy thing to wear to a funeral) as long as they have an appropriate length to make up for the tighter fit.
Although most of us should avoid wearing shorts at a funeral, the weather might compel you to opt for something lighter than pants (and elegant walking shorts can look quite nice). Before you wear shorts, however, put your hands at your side. The fabric should extend lower than your fingertips.
Sleeveless dresses and blouses (for women) and short-sleeved shirts (for men) are acceptable as long as you aren’t showing too much skin elsewhere. If your skirt is pushing the boundaries of appropriate, make up for the length by covering your arms and ensuring you don’t show too much cleavage.
Fabric Choices for Funeral Clothes
Where you live and the time of year will determine the best fabrics for funerals. Warm climates and summer weather require lighter silks and flowing fabrics. Funerals in cold weather are often best served with thick polyester or wool.
Regardless of weather, avoid fabrics that have excessive stretch to them. Jeggings and/or leggings, yoga pants, spandex, Lycra and other stretchy materials are almost always at the top of a what not to wear to a funeral list.
And while most of us know to stick to colors like black, grey, navy blue, and beige, it’s also a good idea to avoid fabrics with:
- Colorful, distracting prints
- Animal prints
- Sparkles or heavy bejeweled portions
- Loud stripes or polka dots (understated ones are okay)
- See-through materials
- Inappropriate logos and/or sayings
Accessories Not to Wear to a Funeral
Once your base outfit is complete, you will need to take a look at your accessories, hair, and makeup. The best advice is to stick to Coco Chanel’s famous statement: “Before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” Overdoing it on the details is a common funeral attire pitfall.
Items/accessories to avoid:
- Shoes any taller than a few inches
- Jewelry that is distracting or overly large
- Hats that might impede the view of anyone seated or standing behind you
- Noisy bracelets, belts, or chains
- Bright colors or too many sparkles
- Excessive perfume or cologne
- Makeup that will run or streak
Above all else, attending a funeral is meant to be a measure of respect. This day isn’t about you or making yourself visible—it’s about honoring the life of someone who was loved and will be missed. Although it’s perfectly acceptable to look your best, make sure the “best” you is one who would pass approval at a church or job interview.
Now that you know what not to wear, why don’t you check out our article on appropriate attire to wear to a funeral?