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June 12, 2020 Beyond The Dash

What to Wear to a Summer Funeral

Stay cool while paying your respects this summer

What to Wear to a Summer Funeral
Don't wear a heavy fall or winter suit to a summer funeral. There are many fabrics and cuts that can keep your outfit respectful without being too hot. (Shutterstock)

Summertime offers mourners some of the biggest attire challenges for funerals. For those who are lucky enough to rarely attend funerals, it's not obvious what clothing is appropriate. It's even more complicated when the sun is hot, and all you have is a dark, heavy suit. If you're looking help finding a  light, cool and respectful outfit for a summer funeral service, read on!

Modesty is more important at a formal occasion, and even more so at a funeral. It's considered respectful to wear outfits that are clean, tidy and free of tears. That doesn't mean you should wear your most stifling church wear on the hottest day of the year.

COVID-19 and funeral wear

COVID-19 has changed the ways we hold funerals — and that includes attire too. If you are attending an indoor or outdoor funeral this year, it's recommended in most places to wear a mask. Keep distance from other mourners, and stay home if you are feeling sick. 

Style and cut

Short-sleeved shirts are appropriate at most funerals, but avoid tops that reveal too much of the chest or shoulders. Shorts and dresses should reach the knees. Loose-fitting clothing will be less restrictive than tight clothing, and can help you stay comfortable during the service. 

Most modern funerals don't require full suits or dresses nowadays. However, it's also not a time to dress too casually. Athletic wear like flip flops, sweatpants or windbreakers should be avoided. Conversely, it's a mistake to dress in attire that is too business-like for a funeral, which is a personal and emotional occasion.

Light summer suits are appropriate at a funeral, but don't make the mistake of wearing a heavy wool one during warm weather. (Shutterstock)

Materials and fabrics

An outfit that fully covers the body can be funeral-appropriate and cool if made with breathable, lightweight fabric. 

Seek out fabrics that are light and breezy, like cotton, linen and chambray. Avoid heavy or synthetic materials that will trap heat and sweat, like Polyester, denim and nylon.


It is becoming increasingly acceptable to wear more colors to funerals beyond the traditional black. However, if the family is planning a conservative funeral, or if you are unsure, it's best to wear neutral colors like gray, beige or navy blue. Color accents are a good way to add character to a somber outfit.

Muted colors, white and neutrals are considered acceptable at funerals nowadays, in additional to traditional black, navy or gray. (Shutterstock)

White is also a traditional funeral color, and can be worn when in mourning. White is cooler in the summer than heat-absorbing darker colors. 

Creating a funeral ensemble

So what's appropriate? Here are some clothing suggestions for those still unsure of what they can wear to a summer funeral:

  • Dress shorts or pants

  • Skirt or dress

  • Blouse or button-down shirt

  • Dress shoes

  • Suit jacket 

A light blouse with knee-length shorts or a skirt is a popular summer funeral ensemble. (Shutterstock)

Avoid these common funeral fashion faux pas:

  • Athletic wear

  • Tank tops

  • Shorts or skirts that are above the knee

  • Flip flops 

Why is funeral attire so important?

Depending on the people hosting the funeral, attire may not be important at all. Some people nowadays don't see conservative and neutral clothing as a genuine way to celebrate the life of a love one who has passed. 

These families might inform their guests, either in the memorial invitation or by way the the obituary notice, that guests are encouraged to wear bright or casual attire. This type of funeral encourages all who knew the deceased to come to mourn as they are, rather than worrying about a fancy outfit. 

However, death and bereavement can be a sensitive time for families who are more conservative and formal in their funeral arrangements. Clothing that does not portray adequate respect for the deceased individual and the closest mourners might offend. Some Orthodox religions have specific requirements for garb, and it is best to find out in advance what they are. Guests should err on the side of caution, or contact someone close to the family to find out about their expectations for traditional or cultural funeral wear. 

Check with those close to the family about any dress code requests if you're unsure of what to wear. (Shutterstock)

Ultimately, your presence is what will matter at the funeral service more than what you wear. These attire tips are intended to help you make yourself and everyone around you more comfortable during a memorial service, so you can focus on what matters: saying goodbye to someone special to you.

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