What to wear to a funeral

LogoOn Monday, we’ll be attending our third funeral in ten days, so what to wear to a funeral seemed to be an obvious topic for this week’s post.

In many cultures, black is the traditional colour of mourning and there was a time when everyone was expected to wear black to a funeral. These days, however, expectations in most communities are less rigid. Black remains a popular choice, but it isn’t considered necessary. Without such hard and fast rules, how do we decide what’s appropriate?

In general, an outfit worn to a funeral should be fairly conservative, both in terms of colour and style. It’s definitely not a time to draw attention to yourself by wearing something too brightly coloured or flamboyant. Your choice of outfit should show respect for the deceased and their loved ones. If you’re not sure what to choose, think about what you might wear to a job interview or a business meeting. Things to avoid would include overly casual clothing, very short skirts, and low-cut dresses. In my grandmother’s day a woman wouldn’t have dared attend a funeral in pants, but that’s no longer the case in most places.

Jewelry should be understated and makeup kept to a minimum. If you have a tendency to cry at funerals, make sure your mascara is waterproof! Also, since some people are highly allergic and funerals are often crowded, avoid wearing anything that’s heavily scented.

If the funeral will include a trip to the cemetery, choose shoes that can take you easily from the church or funeral home to the burial site. You may find yourself walking on uneven ground, grass, or gravel, so flat or low-heeled shoes would be best.

At the end of the day, it comes down to being modest and respectful with your choice of attire. When in doubt, you’re better off to be a bit overdressed than underdressed.

Now, let’s take a look at what I wore to the two funerals we attended in the past week.


For the first, honouring the life of a friend’s 95-year-old mother, I chose plain black pants and jacket, both from Reitmans, Canada’s largest women’s apparel retailer. The pants have been in my closet for years and the jacket since last winter. The layered sleeveless Scallop Top is new from cabi’s Fall 2019 Collection, but it’s likely to become a year-round staple in my wardrobe. The very comfortable flat leather Natural Soul shoes by Naturalizer were purchased somewhere in Kansas almost ten years ago! Although they look navy blue in the photo, they’re actually black. I accessorized with a very simple lariat necklace, a single silver bangle bracelet, and earrings that don’t show in the photo.


The second funeral celebrated the life of a 62-year-old friend who spent the last year of her life fighting a malignant brain tumour. As you can see, I wore the same shoes, jacket, and bracelet, exchanging the pants and top for a sleeveless dress in a muted green pattern. Like many items in my wardrobe, it’s several years old, but with its animal print-like pattern it’s as on-trend now as it was when I bought it.