How to dress for a funeral and still feel comfortable (plus, what to avoid)

what to wear to a funeral
What to wear to a funeralNew Look, Mango.

Asking yourself what to wear to a funeral is an outfit dilemma you never want to have. So when you find yourself in that exact position, it can feel overwhelming. Preparing to attend a funeral is an emotional experience whether it’s for a loved one, friend, mentor or co-worker who has passed away; thinking about what to wear or finding a funeral dress is always the furthest thing from your mind. This guide is designed to make it as simple and stress-free as possible.

You might not have time or want to buy something new for the day, especially if the funeral is unexpected, and wandering around the shops is not somewhere you want to be when you’re grieving. So, instead, your existing wardrobe is a good place to start. When sifting through your hangers, look for an outfit that is respectful to those who have passed while ensuring you still feel comfortable and yourself.

What is appropriate to wear to a funeral?

Most funerals have an all-black dress code, with many mourners opting for something smart and considered.

A funeral isn’t usually the place to wear an ultra-short mini dress, so hemlines can remain around or below the knee, and spaghetti straps are sometimes a no-go. Instead, opt for a sleeveless, cap sleeve or long-sleeved dress, or pair a shirt or turtle neck with a pair of black flared trousers. Alternatively, a classic black blazer will smarten up pretty much anything.

funeral what to wear
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Things to consider

It’s always a good idea to bring some sort of jacket or coat with you as it can often get cold at the venue and you can use pockets to keep tissues at the ready without digging into your handbag during the service.

black dresses for funeral
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Make sure to wear a pair of smart but comfortable shoes, as there might be some walking throughout the day. For a traditional service try to avoid wearing fashion trainers or sandals – your best bet is a pair of round or pointed-toe heels or a stylish flat will work well. And if you know you might be walking on grass, best to leave the stilettos. Mary Janes, for example, are a great all-rounder that pairs with everything.

If it’s a very traditional funeral, hats or headbands could be a nice touch, just make sure to keep the proportions to a smaller scale.

Things to avoid

While you should generally steer clear of bright colours and loud prints (unless otherwise requested), other things to avoid include very revealing or overly casual clothes, like ripped jeans, a sheer top, or pieces with inappropriate cut-out details.

Accessory-wise, keep things minimal. You might feel weighed down by an oversized tote so opt for a clutch or smaller handbag instead.

funeral what to wear
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The same goes for jewellery – keep it classic and understated. Search your jewellery box for some timeless silver and gold pieces, such as a simple chain or pair of hoops.

One accessory that people often find quite comforting at funerals is sunglasses. Pack a pair in your bag or jacket pocket just in case. Grief can work in unexpected ways and if things suddenly get too much, or if you don’t want to feel watched, you can pull out your glasses and simply put them on.

Do you always have to wear black at a funeral?

It’s custom to wear black to funerals, so that’s always a safe option to stick with. If, however, you are usually a flamboyant dresser and wouldn’t feel like yourself in an all-black look, you can dress in darker tones (like deep brown, navy or dark green) and avoid anything ‘over the top’ to avoid offending other mourners.

On occasion, some families might ask you to wear colour to celebrate the life of the deceased, which can make an otherwise morbid day and dress code a little more flexible.

Black funeral dresses

If you’re still struggling with what to wear, we’ve rounded up a few classic black dresses – and a couple of jumpsuit options – for any last-minute buys:

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