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September 20, 2019 Beyond The Dash

What to Wear to a Fall Funeral

Tips for dressing respectfully at an autumn memorial

What to Wear to a Fall Funeral
A suit and tie is a traditional way to dress at a memorial service, but there are many other considerations to make before settling on a memorial outfit. (Shutterstock)

Many people struggle to pull together an appropriate funeral outfit. It's a rare occasion for many people—and one that most hope to never attend. That's why so many people find themselves ill-prepared when selecting an outfit for the memorial service. If you are attending a funeral this fall, use this guide to help you navigate the expectations for dress on this day of mourning. 

Times have changed

It used to be standard that all guests attending a funeral would wear their conservative Sunday best. Black, modest and plain clothes are still appropriate today, but funerals have changed in the last few decades—including what's acceptable to wear. 

Today, neutral colors such as beige, navy blue and grey are commonly seen at funerals. White, is another color that has always had a place in funeral customs across the globe. Colors are more and more acceptable at modern funerals as well. Including a small splash of color in the form of a scarf, tie or accessory can help keep lightness present on a dark day. 

Clothing tips

Some families will add a note about the dress code on the funeral invitation suggesting that guests wear colorful clothing. If so, try to wear something that matches the dress code. If no such instruction has been provided, you'll have to use your best judgement. Here are some tips to help you pick the right fall funeral outfit.

Layer up

Fall is an unpredictable season. Depending on where you live, fall might be quite warm or very cool. A graveside funeral, outdoor reception, and time spent waiting for services to begin may mean that guest have to spend time both indoors and outdoors. It's important for you to be comfortable for the duration of a funeral service and any events that follow. 

With this in mind, it's prudent to wear a layered outfit, so that articles of clothing may be easily added or removed. Do everything you can to avoid distracting anyone who is trying to mourn, including yourself. 

Check the weather

You should consult the local weather report before attending a funeral service. This will help you decide whether to bring an umbrella, if a coat is required, and what types of shoes to wear. A funeral is not the time to get caught in an unexpected downpour, so plan ahead. 

Less is more

Though colors may be more acceptable at funerals today than in times past, less is still more. Unless the family has requested a specific dress code (for example, sometimes funeral guests are encouraged to wear the deceased person's favorite colors), keep busy patterns and flashy colors to a minimum. 

Lean conservative

If you're unsure of what to wear, it's always best to dress more conservatively. Cover your shoulders, knees and chest to ensure everyone at the funeral feels comfortable and respected. 

Choose layers that are comfortable and modest for a fall funeral. (Shutterstock)

Stuck between something casual and something more formal? It's often best to choose something more dressy for a funeral. However, you can dress up a pain of clean, unripped jeans with formal shoes, a blazer or button-up shirt. Work with what you have, and add accents of formality to create your funeral ensemble. 

What to wear


✓ Dark or neutral in color 

✓ Sport coat or blazer

✓ Button-down collared shirt

✓ Tie 

✓ Dress shoes

✓ Clean, pressed, free of holes or tears

Dresses and skirts

✓ Dark or neutral in color

✓ Skirts and dresses should extend below the knee

✓ Layer with a cardigan, scarf or shawl

✓ Tights or leggings, if the weather is crisp

✓ Dress shoes

✓ Clean, pressed, free of holes or tears

Black and white are acceptable funeral colors. Other neutrals like navy blue, beige, grey are more common nowadays. It's okay to add a discreet splash of color too. (Shutterstock)

Paying your respects

Fortunately, most people at the funeral will be focussed on the events of the day, and not your outfit. As long as you choose an outfit that doesn't take attention away from the person being mourned, you will be able to blend in. 

Plan for the day as best you can, so there are minimal interruptions to your main purpose on the day of a funeral: mourning the loss of someone you loved.

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