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What Should I Wear To A Funeral Service

5th July 2016   Advice Funerals

As Exeter-based funeral directors, we understand that funerals aren’t an easy time in general, and having to determine what to wear that is respectful for the occasion and is also comfortable for you sometimes isn’t easy, especially due to the different styles and options of a funeral service in the modern day.

There are a number of ways to dress for the occasion – this can depend on the wishes of the deceased’s family, or it can simply be up to you to make the choice. Traditionally, black is the colour of mourning, however, it’s 2016 and expectations are no longer so rigid – black clothing will never go out of style, but it’s not the only option.


If you’re unsure of what to wear to an upcoming funeral, these general guidelines will help you understand what should be worn depending on the service you’re attending, the season and the religious customs. Remember, there is no set dress code for a funeral, but it’s wise to stick to certain styles and colours.

Top tip: Be sure to ask the deceased family members whether there is a particular dress code to follow before making assumptions.

Colours and style

Traditional funeral services

Traditional funerals usually involve the attire of black clothes and shoes, however, this is not completely necessary in the modern day, and you don’t have to go out and buy a black suit or a black dress – it is also acceptable to wear muted colours like navy blue, plum, grey, brown and mauve. For a classic funeral service, you should avoid prints and bright jewellery or accessories.

The last thing you’d want to do is attract attention away from the deceased or cause unnecessary friction with the family, so style should remain tasteful and conservative, as though you were attending church or an important job interview. Revealing attire is also not generally appropriate.

Unconventional services

Modern mourning doesn’t mean that respectful dress wear should be dismissed, however, options are broader. Funeral etiquette may have changed over time, but behaviour and courtesy never go out of style. No matter what you wear, you must act respectfully and not take the limelight away from the deceased.

Alternative funerals are on the rise before people pass away they are often making plans to include personal clothing, activity and service into their funeral. In this instance, pretty much anything can go! Many families instruct guests to not wear black in order to celebrate the life of the deceased in brighter colours rather than necessarily mourning during the day. This could be done on a beach or even within the family home.

Religious services

Be mindful of religious traditions – it’s best to double check with the family or an acquaintance/friend you know that may also be attending the funeral. Be considerate of items such as hats as these are sometimes required within the attire of a religious service.


A funeral isn’t the most appropriate place to show off your new sparkling designer heels, so it’s best to stick to something simple, black is usually the best colour to go for – as it goes with everything.

Ladies – heels are fine (as long as they’re not 10 inches high and covered in leopard print!)

Funeral Footwear For WomenFuneral Footwear For Men


Funeral accessories do not just include body worn items, find out what you should bring to a funeral as a friend, family member or acquaintance.

  • Sunglasses
  • Tissues
  • Gloves
  • Minimal jewellery

Type of service

There are a range of different funeral types and what you wear should depend on the style of the service, the season and the wishes of the deceased’s family members.

  • Outdoors/indoors
  • Traditional
  • Alternative/contemporary
  • Memorial services


If you’re unsure if the funeral you’re attending is going to be religious, it’s best to double check with the family or an acquaintance/friend you know that may also be attending. Be considerate of items such as hats as these are sometimes required within the attire of a religious service.

Learn what you need to know about different types of funeral service here.

Seasonal clothing options

Seasons are also an important factor to think about when it comes to how to dress for a funeral service.

Cold weather: During colder times, choose a tailored coat rather than a fleece/anorak as this can appear a little scruffy. It’s a good idea to layer if you’re preparing for a chilly day, wearing thermal tights underneath trousers can help keep you warmer, as well as sophisticated hats and scarves.

Warmer weather: It’s fine to wear something sleeveless as long as it’s equally modest. There’s no need to sweat profusely in something you’d feel uncomfortable in and the person you’ve lost would probably not want that for you either. It’s best to avoid items like shorts as generally, they’re not appropriate.


  • Short sleeved shirt
  • Trousers
  • Dark linen suits can be a cooler option
  • Choose a T-Shirt instead of a buttoned shirt underneath your blazer


  • Sleeveless knee-length dresses
  • Maxi dresses
  • Pencil skirt and sleeveless shirt


Unless you turn up in ripped jeans and an unclean shirt, you’re probably ok – so don’t worry too much. What’s most important about a funeral service is your attendance, respect and kind wishes.

Top tip: Always have something smart and black on hand in your wardrobe, you can’t usually go wrong with this.

We are an established funeral directors based in Exeter and offer a range of funeral services at comprehensive prices, working with people to make difficult times easier, we offer advice, support and help with funeral planning. Contact us if you’d like to speak with a member of our team.

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