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December 20, 2019 Beyond The Dash

What to Wear to a Winter Funeral

Tips for staying warm and dressing appropriately

What to Wear to a Winter Funeral
Dressing appropriately for a funeral gets even more perplexing when paired with inclement weather. Learn how to dress for the occasion, and stay warm. (Shutterstock)

Winter is a season marked by a spike in deaths. Poor weather contributes to more car accidents, as well as general mishaps like trips and falls. Studies show that you are more likely to die in January than any other month. It comes as no surprise, then, that there will be more funerals in the wintertime. 

It can be tough to decide what to wear to a winter funeral—but it's well worth have a selection of appropriate outfits that will make do if a death occurs. There are many considerations you should take into account, depending on the venue, as well as the family hosting the service.

Your ideal outfit will blend in with the occasion and show your profound respect for the deceased. On a more practical note, you need to stay warm before, during and after the service. Though it's tricky to balance these goals in the form of one funeral outfit, these tips for dressing for a winter funeral should help you choose the right ensemble.

Start with the basics

There are some basic clothing items that are essential to have in your closet. Funerals don't often come with much advance notice, so it's a good idea to keep some more formal winter outerwear in your wardrobe. These simple outerwear basics will come in handy for unexpected funerals, and any other occasion that calls for more formal attire during the colder months. 

Get a warm, black dress coat

A simple, dressy, black winter coat is a wardrobe staple that everyone should have on hand. A wool peacoat will keep you warm at a graveside service. If you are anticipating a lot of rain, consider a coat with more rain-resistant fabric. 

Outerwear accessories

Check the weather report on the day of the funeral. If there is any chance of rain, bring an umbrella. Many people see wet hair as a sign of sloppiness or disrespect, especially on a solemn occasion like a funeral service. 

Scarves, gloves, and other winter accessories are great for layering your outfit. Layering means wearing clothing items that can be easily removed as you encounter different temperatures. Moving from an indoor funeral service, to an outdoor graveside service, and then to a reception might mean adding or removing layers several times during the funeral. 

Outerwear recap

✓ Umbrella

✓ Warm, dressy overcoat

✓ Gloves

✓ Scarf 


Black, navy, gray or neutral-colored suits are standard funeral wear. Traditionally, funeral guests would wear a collared shirt and tie with a suit. However, it is acceptable in modern times to wear slacks and a blazer or sport coat, instead of a full suit. If you wear a blazer and collared shirt, you can leave the tie behind. Depending on the formality of the funeral service, you may even be able pull of a clean, plain t-shirt under a blazer. 

While you may be tempted to wear runners with a suit, it's well worth investing in a pair of dress shoes if you are wearing a suit. A nice pair of simple black dress shoes need not be too expensive, and they will tie the whole outfit together. If this is not possible, at least make sure your shoes blend with your pants. Do not wear white sneakers with a black suit!

Avoid wearing jeans to a funeral. However, dark jeans with a tucked-in collared shirt are usually considered acceptable, especially when paired with a blazer, tie and dress shoes.

More than anything, it's important to show up to a funeral looking put together. Your clothes should be clean, and without any holes or tears. Iron or steam your outfit in advance to ensure you are presentable at the funeral service.

Formal shoes, a scarf and winter jacket are essentials for a winter funeral. (Shutterstock)

Suits recap

✓ 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

If you are planning on wearing a dress to a winter funeral, layering will be especially important. When wearing a dress to a funeral—regardless of the season—it's important to wear tights or stockings to cover the leg. In cold weather, ensure you've got a thick enough pair of stockings to keep you warm. Add a blazer, cardigan or shawl to your ensemble to stay comfortable during the service.

Your skirt should be long enough to cover the knee. Your outfit should be on the conservative side, if you're unsure of how to dress. Depending on the family's values, it could be problematic to show too much skin. It's a winter funeral, so stay warm and bundled up!

Traditionally, funeral dresses should blend in. It is a somber occasion, and your appearance will speak to your grief. While it is acceptable to wear patterns and colors, try to keep them in good taste for the occasion. Subtle jewelry, belts and other accessories can help make a modest dress more unique. 

Dress shoes, again, are essential to pulling off a more formal outfit at a funeral. Flats or heels will do; sneakers or sandals will not. 

Cardigans, stockings and sturdy shoes are layers that will keep you warm during a funeral with a graveside service. (Shutterstock)

Dresses and skirts recap

✓ Dark or neutral in color

✓ Skirts and dresses should extend below the knee

✓ Layer with a cardigan, scarf or shawl

✓ Warm tights or leggings 

✓ Dress shoes

✓ Clean, pressed, free of holes or tears

Traditionally, a black suit or a conservative dress or long skirts and blouse, all are considered as appropriate funeral wear for women. Try to keep the clothing colors respectful. It is okay to wear light dark shades, but usually dark ones are recommended.

Don't stress about how to dress 

Dressing for a winter funeral doesn't have to be complicated. Choose an outfit that communicates your deep respect for all in attendance, and your current state of mourning. Remember to bring warm layers. 

As long as your outfit is clean, warm and respectful, it will work for a winter funeral. (Shutterstock)

As long as your demeanor matches the occasion, most people will not take any notice of what you're wearing. The day is about the person you are mourning, so don't overthink your outfit.

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