Let’s face it. When a loved one has died, thinking about what to wear to the funeral is the last thing you want to worry about. And because most of us don’t attend funerals very often, it’s not uncommon to ask “do I need to wear black?”

Black is the colour of mourning in many cultures. Queen Victoria wore black for almost 40 years following the death of her husband, Prince Albert, in 1861. In doing so, she set the standard for funeral dressing and it became the expectation that anyone attending a funeral wore black.

However times have changed and we live in a more multicultural society, and these days expectations are not so rigid.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to dress is darker colours such as black, dark grey and navy. But more and more, as society changes, people are choosing to dress in colours or styles that reflect the life of the deceased.

Here are a few things to consider when you’re deciding what to wear to a funeral.


For women

Think conservative. Funerals tend to be solemn events, so take care to dress in a manner that reflects a respectful attitude. This might include a nice business suit or a simple dress. Overly casual clothing such as jeans should be avoided, as well as any revealing clothing like mini skirts. And use good shoe sense. Funerals normally involve a lot of standing and walking, so leave the sky-high heels at home. The last thing you want to be thinking about is sore feet.


For men

Again, think conservative and dress in a respectful manner. A suit and a collared shirt is generally an appropriate choice. Wearing a tie is optional, but if you do take a pass on loud colours. Avoid wearing casual clothing such as jeans, short-sleeved shirts, athletic shoes and caps. And don’t forget to take an extra minute to shine your shoes.

You also need to be mindful of religious customs. For some cultures wearing black clothing is still the norm, while for others it is viewed as inappropriate. The funeral director will be able to advise you.

Ultimately there are no hard and fast rules, but the way you are dressed should always be respectful of the deceased and their family. Remember, at the end of the day, being there is what really counts.

For more Funeral FAQs, go to our FAQ page.