What to Wear to a Funeral

October 18, 2022

I don’t know what to wear to a funeral! Do all mourners wear black? Is it inappropriate to wear bright colors? What about hats?

When celebrating the life of a deceased loved one, your attire should show respect.

Traditionally in the United States, proper funeral etiquette suggests men and women wear black. Black clothing is seen as conservative and respectful. Black or dark colors are most common in the States, but modern ways and different cultures may expect mourners to wear a less traditional funeral color/attire. In addition, the location of the ceremony also plays a significant role in your clothing.

What to wear to non-traditional funeral ceremonies

If you are attending a celebration of life, beach send-off, woodland ceremony, or any funeral in an alternative venue to a place of worship or funeral home, you may find that the attire is less formal.

What to wear to beach funerals

The beach is a magical place. It is peaceful and the perfect venue for a celebration of life. Although beautiful, the beach is a non-traditional setting for a funeral. So, the attire also falls outside of the norm. Beach funeral attire may consist of loosely fitted, comfortable clothes in various light colors. Such as tan, white, soft yellows, and blues.

At a beach funeral, women may wear long sundresses and men may wear linen pants and a short sleeve collared shirt. The point is to be comfortable, but still, be respectful of the occasion

The family of the deceased may request a less traditional dress or may have a personalized theme they would like you to adhere to. If this is the case, follow the dress code.

Why do most people wear black to a funeral?

What to Wear to a FuneralClothing worn to a funeral service might be similar to what you would wear to church or a wedding. If you pay close attention, though, you’ll notice that there’s one common color that most people are probably wearing: black.

Why black? Believe it or not, wearing black to a funeral dates all the way back to the 19th century. It is a long-standing tradition of the United States and other Western nations. Many people associate funerals with being somber occasions and the color black is worn as a sign of respect to the deceased. It represents mourning.

Types of appropriate clothing worn to western funerals

What do women wear to a funeral?

Women typically wear semi-formal/business attire to a funeral ceremony. Whatever you decide to wear, make sure it is comfortable, but also respectful to the family’s dress code.

  1. Skirt or dress – make sure the dress appropriately fits the venue of the ceremony.
  2. A pair of slacks – black or other dark colors are best. Try to wear ones with a simple pattern or without a pattern at all.
  3. Blouse or shirt – if you do not want to wear a skirt, pair a nice blouse with a pair of black slacks.
  4. Cardigan or blazer jacket – remember to bring a sweater or outer coat if the venue is cold or the seasons call for them. A blazer can also add pizazz to a more casual outfit.
  5. Shoes – flats or sensible heels are a popular choice. Open-toed shoes or sandals may be worn in some instances, especially for beach ceremonies.


Try to avoid jeans (unless you are attending a casual funeral), revealing clothing, flashy jewelry, and hats. Hats are not appropriate indoors in general, but definitely not at a funeral service, unless specified by the family of the deceased.

What do men wear to a funeral?

Men in western cultures also are expected to dress in semi-formal/business attire. Again, this is only if the venue is a formal setting. Untraditional venues call for a more casual approach to dressing for a funeral.

  1. Black or dark suits – pair with a white light-colored, long-sleeved shirt and tie/bowtie. Maybe the deceased’s favorite color was blue. Wear a blue necktie to honor them!
  2. Slacks and blazer – if you do not own a traditional suit, slacks with a plain white t-shirt and blazer are a slightly more casual but acceptable option. You can also wear a collared shirt and slacks if you do not own a blazer.
  3. Dress shoes are the traditional preferred choice but wearing a casual shoe that matches the rest of your outfit is acceptable.

Religious garments/colors worn at funerals

Wearing black to a funeral is generally acceptable across Western society, however, it is not the only color worn to funerals in the states and around the world. Not all cultures or religions consider black as the appropriate color for a funeral.

Hindu Funerals

For example, black is inappropriate at a Hindu funeral or Sikh funeral. Hindu funerals believe wearing white is more suited for celebrating the life of someone who has passed. White represents mourning in Indian culture.

South African Funerals

Red is often worn in South Africa. The color red represents mourning in this country. For a Ghanaian funeral, it’s traditional for members of the community to wear black and white while the immediate family will wear red and black.

African, Caribbean/West Indies Funerals

Bright colors are worn in many African, Caribbean/West Indies areas. Also, humanist and non-religious funerals in the UK and across the world will opt for more vibrant colors. Wearing bright colors at a funeral can reinforce the celebration of life.

Jewish funerals

At a Jewish funeral wearing modest or conservative clothing is best. As this is a time of mourning, bright or flashy attire is not appropriate. Anything that you wear should be neat and tidy. Suits, dress shirts and slacks for men and dresses for women should be in gray, black or brown. Jewish funerals are rich with culture and filled with beautiful customs to say goodbye to their loved ones.

Head Covering

Men of all religions must cover their heads with a yarmulke, which may be personal or provided by the chapel if needed. Women may be asked to wear a scarf or lace head covering.

Muslim Funerals

Muslims generally wear white to funerals. White is associated with humility and wholesomeness. However, some Muslim funerals allow dark colors to be worn such as black, brown, and gray. Again, the clothing should be modest and properly fit.

As you can see what appropriate attire for a funeral or memorial service ranges is based on many different factors. If you are going to a traditional funeral in the US, dress to show respect for the person whose life you are remembering.

In conclusion, dress more conservatively, not flashy or brightly colored. Darker dresses, suits, pants, jackets and sweaters are appropriate. Flip-flops, tank tops, shorts, or casual tennis shoes are not appropriate choices. Even though the service may be a celebration of life, many of those attending will be mourning. Be respectful. If you want to be sure, ask someone close to the family of the deceased for the theme so you can appropriately dress for the occasion.

Do you have questions about planning a funeral? Are you looking for the perfect place to memorialize your loved one? Coastal Funeral Center can assist you in planning from calling hours to the procession and everything in between. If you have any other questions about funeral planning, our advisors are here to help. Contact us online or give us a call at (310) 326-6343.

About Coastal Funeral Center

At Coastal Funeral Center, we are committed to being dedicated guardians of family and community, while holding on to the legacy we established as a family-owned funeral home. Originally A.M Gamby Funeral Home, Coastal Funeral Center joined Green Hills Memorial Park in 2018 to better serve the community of the South Bay and Palos Verdes Peninsula. During this transition, we expanded our services as an all-inclusive facility and built on the successes of Green Hills Memorial Park. We’re proud of our legacy of personal service and our deep roots in the community, which we’ve been part of for more than 80 years. We provide customized funeral service options that meet your financial needs and honor your loved one like the beautiful individual they were. To learn more, visit https://coastalfuneralcenter.com/about/

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