What to wear to a funeral - respectful and stress-free outfit solutions

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Attending a funeral is always a daunting prospect, without the added worry of finding an outfit that feels suitably respectful.

To help alleviate some of the stress from an already difficult day, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow guide on what to wear to a funeral.

Let’s start with the basics…

  • Wear black: Unless the family of the deceased have requested a specific dress code.
  • Stay smart: Avoid anything that feels too casual, like joggers, jeans or trainers. Stick to simple tailoring and low-key dresses.
  • Dress modestly: Funerals are not the place for short hemlines or too much skin on show. If the service is taking place in a church, you’ll need to cover your shoulders too.
  • Avoid anything flashy - the day should be about honouring the deceased, so steer clear of attention-grabbing clothing or accessories that could steal focus.

Why do people wear black to funerals?

There is evidence of mourners wearing black as early as the Roman times, but it became a much more prominent tradition in western culture during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Mourning for her husband Prince Albert, the monarch wore black for 40 years after his death.

This is why it's considered bad taste to wear black to a wedding.

Is it disrespectful to wear colour to a funeral?

A common quandary, whether or not you wear colour to a funeral will depend on the thoughts and feelings of the deceased’s relatives. It is not unusual for families to request a less sorrowful dress code, or to ask people to add a brightly coloured accessory to a black outfit. In some cases, the deceased themselves may have asked that no one wear black to their funeral.

Can you wear jeans to a funeral?

Unless specified by the family of the deceased, jeans are not appropriate for a funeral. This is a time to pay your respects, so your outfit should feel suitably smart.

That being said, if you’re short on time and low on options, you might be able to get away with a pair of black slim-fitting jeans worn with a blouse and blazer.

What to wear to a funeral

A midi dress

You want to feel comfortable at a funeral, so separates that have the potential to ride up or down are not a great idea. A simple black midi dress will feel both smart and modest, not to mention the longer hemline will reduce the chance of a wardrobe malfunction.

A dress with three quarter length sleeves will work for funerals in all seasons, but if it is a warm day, you could opt for a sleeveless style. Just be sure to bring a pashmina to drape over your shoulders during the church service.

Low heels

Funerals often require tackling a wide range of terrains, from slippy church floors to damp grass. To lower your risk of taking a tumble, wear a pair of flats or a low, block heel you can walk in easily. If you can, wear your shoes in ahead of time to avoid painful pinching or blisters on the day.

A roomy bag

Feeling prepared can help take the edge off of the day, so it’s always best to pack your bag the evening before a funeral. A roomy tote will ensure there’s enough space for everything you need. Here’s a short list of the things you might want to bring…

  • Tissues - funerals are emotional occasions and shedding a tear is completely natural
  • Compact mirror - makes for fuss-free mascara touch-ups
  • Pen - handy to have in case there is a condolence or memorial book to sign
  • Umbrella - be prepared for all forecasts
  • Sunglasses - even winter days can be surprisingly sunny

what to wear to a funeral advice

Brands to consider when shopping for a funeral

Reiss

Reiss specialise in smart, sophisticated workwear which will hit the right mark for a funeral too. They favour a muted palette of blacks and greys, making their pieces easy to style for somber occasions.

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Phase Eight

With more than 60 black dresses ready to shop at the time of writing, Phase Eight are guaranteed to have a funeral-appropriate frock in stock. Although it’s important to be respectful at a funeral, you don’t need to dress like someone else. To avoid waste, find a dress you love that can be re-worn in other ways afterwards.

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H&M

If you’re on a budget or know your funeral clothes will be too tied with emotion to re-wear, pick up something purse-friendly from H&M. They have a myriad of black clothing to browse, from tailored blazers to plain midi dresses.

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Funeral-appropriate clothing you can shop now

Pacey Black Faux Fur Shawl Collar Overcoat, £395, Reiss

Pacey Black Faux Fur Shawl Collar Overcoat, £395, Reiss

Invest now, and wear this classic black coat for years to come. The faux fur collar sets it apart without stealing focus.

VIEW NOW: Pacey Black Faux Fur Shawl Collar Overcoat, £395, Reiss

Midnight Floral Print Scarf, £20, Accessorize

Midnight Floral Print Scarf, £20, Accessorize

Thanks to the dark base, this is the perfect scarf to add a little colour to your outfit - whilst still remaining respectful. Even better, it’s made from 100% recycled polyester.

VIEW NOW: Midnight Floral Print Scarf, £20, Accessorize

Faith Black Faux Suede Block Heel Ankle Boots, £49, Debenhams

Faith Black Faux Suede Block Heel Ankle Boots, £49, Debenhams

Comfortable enough for all day wear thanks to the sturdy block heel and neat almond shape toe.

VIEW NOW: Faith Black Faux Suede Block Heel Ankle Boots, £49, Debenhams

Naomi Coatigan, £139, Hobbs

Naomi Coatigan, £139, Hobbs

Half coat, half cardigan, this will make a chic yet comforting layering piece for difficult days.

VIEW NOW: Naomi Coatigan, £139, Hobbs

Calf-length Dress, £29.99, H&M

Calf-length Dress, £29.99, H&M

Modern yet modest, the high neck and midi length ensure this frock stays funeral-appropriate, while the detachable belt adds definition to your frame.

VIEW NOW: Calf-length Dress, £29.99, H&M

Kai Fit And Flare Dress, £99, Phase Eight

Kai Fit And Flare Dress, £99, Phase Eight

Great for winter, this ribbed, knitted dress will help keep you warm on the chilliest days. Button detailing on the cuffs is a thoughtful touch.

VIEW NOW: Kai Fit And Flare Dress, £99, Phase Eight

Keyhole Long Sleeve Blouse, £24, Next

Keyhole Long Sleeve Blouse, £24, Next

Don’t want to wear plain black? Soft polka dots add a little extra interest.

VIEW NOW: Keyhole Long Sleeve Blouse, £24, Next

Mavis Midi Skirt, £65, Hush at John Lewis

Mavis Midi Skirt, £65, Hush at John Lewis

Swishy and lightweight, this pleated skirt will work in all weathers.

VIEW NOW: Mavis Midi Skirt, £65, Hush at John Lewis

Floral Puff Sleeve Midi Waisted Dress, £45, M&S

Floral Puff Sleeve Midi Waisted Dress, £45, M&S

Introduce a splash of colour to your outfit with this pretty floral frock.

VIEW NOW: Floral Puff Sleeve Midi Waisted Dress, £45, M&S

Black Ruched Sleeve Jacket, £35, Dorothy Perkins

Black Ruched Sleeve Jacket, £35, Dorothy Perkins

A simple black blazer will always earn its keep in your wardrobe. Make a suit of it with the matching tailored trousers.

VIEW NOW: Black Ruched Sleeve Jacket, £35, Dorothy Perkins

Slim Jacquard Trousers in Black, £49, Monsoon

Slim Jacquard Trousers in Black, £49, Monsoon

A geometric print gives the classic black trouser a fashion-forward update. The glossy, cotton-rich fabric is super soft too.

VIEW NOW: Slim Jacquard Trousers in Black, £49, Monsoon

Fib Pointed Tassel Loafers, £59, Office

Fib Pointed Tassel Loafers, £59, Office

Tip-toeing the line between smart and stylish, these can be worn again for work or play.

VIEW NOW: Fib Pointed Tassel Loafers, £59, Office