Women’s Guide What To Wear To A Funeral 72 Practical Tips

Funerals can be difficult, emotional days, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the situation – including knowing the right thing to wear.

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To help, we have put together everything you need to know to pull together an appropriate, suitable funeral outfit, in order to take a little of the stress out of your day.

Women's Guide What to Wear to a Funeral 72 Practical Tips

What Should I Wear To A Funeral?

Some of the top tips for women’s funeral outfits include: 

1. Ask The Family For Their Recommendations

While traditional funeral attire tends to be black, some families and cultures may have their own preferences or may be acting on the last wishes of the deceased.

If this is the case, then ask them what they would like you to wear. 

2. Dress Appropriately

The most important part of dressing appropriately at a funeral is choosing clothes that are comfortable but still reflect the occasion.

This means avoiding anything too revealing or tight-fitting, as these could make you uncomfortable during the ceremony, and are likely to be considered inappropriate for a funeral situation 

3. Choose Something That Is Comfortable

A funeral is not the time to experiment with new fashion trends.

While it is true that funerals tend to be formal occasions, there is no reason why you cannot choose clothing that makes you feel comfortable – remember, these can be tricky, emotional situations, so staying comfortable can help you manage your emotions.

Make sure that you will not be too hot or too cold, and that you can sit in comfort.

4.  Add Some Accessories

It is always advisable to add some accessories to any outfit, and this can help you to feel smarter and more put together when attending a funeral.

Appropriate accessories may include jewelry, scarves, hats, gloves, etc., which add interest and personality to the outfit.

However, if you are unsure about what to wear, then stick to simple items that do not draw attention to themselves.

5. Be Prepared

If you are attending a funeral, then you are almost certainly going to be standing for long periods of time.

Therefore, it is essential that you bring along comfortable shoes, as well as a hat, scarf, and gloves, in case you need to stand outside for a while – it can sometimes take a while for the ceremony to get started, and the last thing that you want is to be uncomfortable on an already tricky day.

6. Wear Comfortable Shoes

When attending a funeral, it is often necessary to stand for extended periods of time. Therefore it is vital that you wear comfortable shoes, as you will be spending much of the day standing up.

Avoiding heels is recommended, as they can cause blisters and other problems. 

7. Bring A Hat And Scarf

As mentioned above, funerals are usually very warm affairs, and therefore it is advisable to bring along a hat and scarf to protect yourself against the sun and keep your hair out of your eyes.

Also, a hat can help to prevent you from getting headaches, and a scarf can provide extra warmth.

8. Dress In Black Or Dark Colors

Black, dark blue, navy, gray, and black are all colors that are commonly associated with funerals, and these colors are generally considered appropriate to wear.

While most guides will suggest that you avoid white, this can be the preferred color in some cultures – as above, always check with the family first. 

9. Keep It Simple

While many people like to dress up for funerals, it is also possible to look smart without having to spend hours picking through your wardrobe.

If you are feeling unsure about what to wear to a funeral, then opt for something simple and classic, such as a suit or skirt and top combination.

10. Don’t Be Afraid To Choose An Attractive Outfit

Funerals are typically held at churches, cemeteries, or chapels, but there is no harm in ensuring that your outfit is attractive as well as conservative

This does not mean that you have to go overboard, but instead, just make sure that you select a suitable outfit that matches your style and personality.

This can help you to feel your best and may be useful in getting you through a tricky day.

11. But Do Not Go Overboard

While there is nothing wrong with looking nice, remember that a funeral is a day to remember and say goodbye to the deceased, so resist the temptation to use it as your own personal catwalk event.

Dress nicely but modestly to ensure that everyone is happy and comfortable.

12. Wear Something That Makes You Feel Good

Funerals are difficult days for everyone involved, and therefore it is best to try and stay positive during the event. By wearing clothes that make you feel good, you can ensure that you are able to cope with the situation better.

13. Make Sure Your Clothes Fit Well

It is important to ensure that your clothing fits correctly before attending a funeral – not only will this help you to look more polished and put together, but it will also help you to feel better on the day.

If you are worried about how your clothes fit, then ask someone who knows you well to help you choose the right size.

14. Consider Buying Some Flowers

Flowers are often used at funerals, but they do not have to be expensive. Instead, consider buying flowers that match the colors of the deceased’s favorite flower, or even buy a bouquet of fresh flowers on the way to the funeral.

You can also add flowers to your outfit as a small nod to the deceased, especially if a love of flowers is something that the two of you shared. 

This can be a great way to keep your outfit somber and appropriate, while still adding a personal touch.

15. Make Sure Your Hair Is Neat

If you are going to attend a church service, then you should definitely take care of your hair.

A messy bun or ponytail will not only look unprofessional, but it could also cause problems if you are asked or required to cover your head or wear a hat.

Where possible, hair should be tied back, but it should always be clean, neat, and well managed.

16. Ask Whether You Need To Cover Your Head

If you are attending a religious ceremony, then you must cover your head and shoulders with a scarf or hat.

However, if you are attending a secular ceremony, then you may not need to worry about covering yourself. If you are unsure whether you need to cover your head, then speak to the person conducting the ceremony.

17. Choose An Appropriate Hat

A black top hat or fedora is usually worn by men, while women are expected to wear a simple veil over their face.

It is advisable to avoid hats that are too large, as they might fall off or become damaged, or draw unwanted attention to you. Instead, opt for an elegant hat that suits your style and personality.

18. Avoid Wearing Too Many Accessories

You should never wear too many accessories when attending a funeral, as this can distract from the main focus of the occasion. Instead, stick to one main statement accessory.

19. Avoid Wearing Too Much Jewelry

Jewelry is usually worn by women at funerals, but men can also wear jewelry if they wish.

However, too much jewelry can distract from the solemnity of the occasion, so it is best to stick to one piece of jewelry – perhaps a statement piece that connects you to the deceased in some way.

20. Pay Attention To The Weather

The weather can play an important role in the clothes that you choose, and this can impact whether or not you feel comfortable when attending a funeral.

If you know that rain is likely, then you may want to avoid wearing a jacket or coat, because these items can get wet and heavy. Instead, opt for lightweight clothing that can be easily removed and dried out later.

21. Choose Appropriate Shoes For The Weather

Shoes are another area where you need to pay attention to the weather.

If you know that it is going to be cold outside, then you should probably wear shoes that can protect your feet from the elements.

For example, boots or sneakers would work well, but you should avoid sandals or open-toed shoes – not only are these uncomfortable in the rain, but they are not really appropriate funeral attire.

22. Be Prepared With Extra Clothes

It is important to bring extra clothes with you to a funeral, just in case the weather changes unexpectedly. In addition, you should also bring along any other items that you might need, such as umbrellas, handbags, wallets, etc.

23. Bring Something Special For The Service

Funerals are typically held outdoors, which means that you will most likely be standing during the ceremony.

Therefore, you should make sure that you have something special to hold onto during the service, like a rosary or prayer book. This can also form part of your outfit if chosen correctly.

24. Be Discreet With Makeup

Makeup is generally frowned upon at funerals since it tends to draw unwanted attention away from the deceased.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but it is better to err on the side of caution than to risk offending someone who is grieving.

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25. Keep It Short And Simple

A short, simple dress is ideal for funerals. While you don’t necessarily need to follow all of the rules about what is considered “appropriate” funeral attire, you should keep things fairly basic.

You do not want to stand out in a crowd of people dressed up in fancy outfits.

26. Bring A Smart Jacket

If you plan to attend a funeral outside, then you should consider bringing a smart jacket. This item can help keep you warm and dry, especially if the weather turns bad. 

27. Choose Your Jacket Color Wisely

Choosing a jacket can be tricky; opt for a neutral color that blends into the background, rather than a bright color that stands out.

28. Avoid Sports Jackets 

Make sure that the jacket you choose is appropriate and tailored; this is not a place for big logos, sports jackets, or tight leather jackets.

29. Carry An Umbrella

An umbrella can be useful in protecting yourself from rain, and can also provide additional coverage should a sudden shower break out.

However, umbrellas aren’t always suitable for funerals, due to the fact that they can be heavy and bulky, and can potentially interfere with other people’s ability to move freely, so take plenty of care, and remain considerate at all times.

30. Don’t Be Too Casual

You may think that you look fine in jeans and a t-shirt, but you could end up looking sloppy and unprofessional. When attending a funeral, it is best to stick to formal attire.

31. Choose Appropriate Footwear

When choosing footwear for a funeral, it is important to remember that you will be standing for a long time. You should therefore select comfortable yet stylish shoes that offer good support.

32. Avoid Sneakers

These types of shoes are usually too casual for a funeral unless you are planning to attend one of the more informal services. Instead, opt for a pair of black or dark brown loafers, or even plain black pumps.

33. Cover Up

It is important to cover up when attending a funeral and avoid showing too much skin. If you are wearing a sleeveless top, you should wear a cardigan over it, while those wearing a skirt should wear a shawl or wrap.

34. Avoid Extreme Jewelry

Extreme statement jewelry such as a strong necklace or long, flashy earrings can distract mourners from paying their respects to the deceased.

Stick to simple pieces that are tasteful and classy, such as a pearl necklace or bracelet.

35. Be Prepared

As mentioned above, funerals can be long and, depending on tradition, have the possibility of lasting for several hours, so you must have everything you need on hand. 

36. Choose A Practical Handbag

Handbags are practical items, which make them easy to carry around your belongings. However, you should try to steer clear of large bags, as these can take up space. Smaller purses are preferable.

37. Carry Necessities

Carrying necessities such as tissues, pens and small toiletries is also advisable, as these items can come in handy at times like these.

38. Dress Modestly

Dressing modestly is always the best option, so you don’t stand out too much. It is better to dress in something that covers your shoulders and knees, rather than revealing too much skin.

39. Bring Extra Clothes

If you are unsure whether you will be cold during the service, bring along extra clothes, just in case. You might want to bring a scarf or hat, too – just make sure that these are not in the way or obstruct other guests.

40. Be Prepared For Sun

While the majority of many funerals will take place inside, there may be a longer period where you are outside – this typically happens when you are spending time at the gravesite. In this case, make sure that you have plenty of sunscreens to protect your skin, and reduce the risk of burns.

41. Remember Sunglasses

Sunglasses can also be a useful thing to wear to a funeral, especially if it is going to be sunny. They allow you to keep your eyes protected from the sun, and they also help you to see people clearly.

They can also be useful if you are feeling too emotional, and wish to have some privacy. Try not to wear these insides during the ceremony.

42. Avoid Leisurewear

Unless specifically stated as being ok, leisurewear is often inappropriate for funerals, as it tends to be loud and colorful, as well as being far too informal for such a somber occasion. Opt instead for smart business attire, or a suit and tie.

43. Have Your Makeup On When You Arrive

Makeup is another item that can detract from the solemnity of the occasion. While it is acceptable to apply makeup before the funeral, do not reapply it afterward, and never apply makeup during the ceremony – if it becomes smudged, you can touch it up at a later time.

Remember, nobody will be expecting you to look perfect while attending a funeral.

44. And Keep Essentials Close For After The Ceremony

While it is not appropriate to apply makeup during the ceremony, you may find that you become emotional during the funeral. It is, therefore, a good idea to have a small emergency pouch in your bag, with wipes, tissues, mascara, and other essential makeup products.

This means that you can excuse yourself at an appropriate time after the ceremony, and touch up your makeup before the wake. This can help you to feel more comfortable and composed, as you know you look neat and tidy and also offers a chance to wash your face, which can be soothing if you have been crying.

45. Don’t Go Bare Legged

It is important to remember that funerals are usually held indoors and that you should try to avoid wearing bare legs. Choose tights under a skirt, or opt for a pair of long, tailored trousers.

46. But Do Wear A Jacket

A jacket is a must-have accessory for any funeral. It can provide warmth and protection against windy weather conditions, and can also help to hide stains on clothing, as well as help your outfit to look neater and more put together.

47. Be Prepared

If you are wearing tights, it is a good idea to ensure that you have a spare pair on hand, just in case – there is nothing worse than realizing halfway through the day that you have a run or tear, and this can cause extra stress on an already difficult day. Alternatively, bring a pot of clear nail polish – this can hide snags in an emergency.

48. Bring Safety Pins

It may seem an odd thing to bring to a funeral, but safety pins can come in very handy when it comes to securing items of clothing – and the last place that you want a tear or exposing seam is at a funeral.

49. Avoid Trousers With Flaps Or Side Seams

Flap pants and side seams can easily show through the fabric, and make you look sloppy. Instead, wear straight-cut trousers, or choose a trouser style that has no visible pleats or side seams.

50. Consider A Shawl or Wrap

Wrap scarves and shawls around your shoulders, and tie them loosely so they don’t fall off. They can add a decorative element to your outfit, and can also help keep you warm while still looking formal and appropriate enough for a funeral.

51. Avoid Stiletto Heels At The Gravesite

Stilettos are often associated with glamor and elegance, but they can also be uncomfortable, particularly if you’re standing for hours on end, and have a tendency to sink into the ground if you are standing in a muddy or grassy location for a long period of time – a situation which may occur if you are invited to stand and mourn at the gravesite, or if the ceremony takes place here rather than in an interior location such a church or crematorium.

If possible, opt for flat shoes instead to alleviate this concern and allow you to stay comfortable.

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52. Try To Stick To One Color Palette

When choosing what color palette to use for your outfit, stick to one shade family where possible – this will help your outfit to remain muted and appropriate. As we mentioned, make sure that you speak to the family to determine their preferences, as they may prefer plenty of color.

53. Stick To Natural Fabrics

Natural fabrics like cotton and linen are generally easier to care for and are less likely to get stained or damaged during the service.

They also tend to be cooler and more comfortable; on occasion, heightened emotions such as grief can raise your body temperature, leaving you feeling warm and flustered, and so it is important that you choose cool relaxed fabrics to counter this.

54. Choose A Dress That Is Comfortable And Elegant

A dress that is too casual can be inappropriate for a funeral, and can even cause offense. This doesn’t mean that you need to wear something that is overly formal though, just ensure that you select a dress that is both stylish and comfortable.

55. Choose A Pale Color In High Heat

If you are planning to attend a funeral in high heat, avoid wearing dark colors, as these colors absorb heat and can leave you feeling hot and uncomfortable. Instead, opt for pale colors like white, cream, light blue, or gray.

You can choose to make this just part of your outfit, such as opting for a light-colored shirt under a dark suit. Alternatively, depending on the culture, you may find that other guests and attendees are also wearing lighter shades – in some cultures, this is the appropriate mourning attire.

56. Consider The Surroundings Before Planning Your Outfit

It is important to consider the weather conditions before selecting your outfit, as certain outfits are unsuitable for particular climates. For example, if you are attending a funeral in the summer, then don’t opt for a black suit, as this would be extremely hot in the sun.

57. Dress For The Environment

Similarly, if you are attending an outdoor event, such as a wedding or garden party, then you shouldn’t wear a full-length gown, as this could become very cumbersome and difficult to walk in.

58. Don’t Be Too Formal

While funerals are formal occasions, you don’t have to worry about following a black-tie dress code; there is no need to opt for a ballgown. Instead, focus on looking smart and polished; there is a nice balance between two casual and formal.

59. Avoid Strong Perfumes and Scents

Strong perfumes and scents can be overpowering and can create a strong sense of smell that will linger throughout the day. You do not know who you will be sharing space with, so try and leave the strong scents at home when you are attending a funeral.

60. Have A Plan B

You never want to arrive at a funeral unprepared, but it is good to have a plan B in case things go wrong. If you are going by car, then having a spare set of clothes in your vehicle can help you to change into more appropriate clothing if necessary.

61. Bring Extra Clothes

Don’t forget to bring extra clothes for any unexpected changes in weather, such as a sudden shower. It is also worth bringing a hat, as it can get quite chilly inside a church or crematorium.

62. Make Sure That You Are Comfortable

Make sure that you are comfortable during the service itself, as you don’t want to feel tense or stressed. Ensure that you have plenty of water available and that you have a comfortable seat. Choosing the right outfit will help here.

63. Choose Appropriate Attire

If you are unsure about what to wear to a funeral, then think about the type of person that the deceased was. Some people prefer to wear bright colors, while others prefer muted tones. If you are unsure, then ask someone who knows the deceased well, or simply look online for inspiration.

64. Try To Blend In

Try to blend in with the crowd, rather than standing out from them. This will help you to fit in better with those around you and can help you to feel calmer and more in control. Try and speak to other attendees while planning your outfit to help you blend in effectively.

65. Manicure Your Nails

Manicuring your nails helps ensure that you look neat, tidy, and polished, and this can help you to feel calm and more together. Opt for a simple French or clear polish, and make sure that nails are neat and tidy.

66. Practice Personal Hygiene

It is important to practice personal hygiene before attending a funeral. Brush your teeth, wash your face, and apply deodorant. These small tasks can help you to feel more confident and relaxed and will be more pleasant for those around you.

67. Get Some Sleep The Night Before

Getting some sleep the night before a funeral can help you to feel calm and ready for the occasion. As much as possible, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes, as these substances can affect your ability to function properly.

68. Keep Yourself Hydrated

Drinking enough water helps keep you hydrated, which can help you to stay calm and focused. Make sure that you drink plenty of water throughout the day, and that you carry a bottle with you.

69. Eat Well

Eating well can help you to feel energized and refreshed, and can help you deal with stress. Avoid eating too much junk food, and opt for something healthy instead. If you need to, eat little and often.

70. Stay Calm

Staying calm is one of the most important aspects of being able to cope with a funeral. If you find yourself feeling anxious or nervous, try to distract yourself by focusing on something else.

71. Take Care Of Yourself

Take care of yourself when attending a funeral. Make sure that you take breaks regularly, and that you drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, as it may cause you to become dehydrated.

72. Give Yourself Time

Funerals are tricky, and nobody expects you to be perfect – don’t be afraid to take the time you need.

Final Thoughts

A funeral can be a difficult time, and getting through it may seem impossible.

By following our advice, however, you will be able to stay calm and focused and ensure that you have the advice that you need to dress appropriately and stay comfortable.

Jenna Reign