General Etiquette > Family and Children

Funeral Dress Code Seems To Be Changing - "Dress Clothes" Definition

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VorFemme:
There were three young women at my paternal uncle's funeral in strapless dresses with very short skirts (clearly prom dresses - due to the satin, lace, sequins, or rhinestone trimmings).  All three were relatives....great-nieces of the deceased (no grandchildren). 

Having been raised by a preacher & his wife and heavily influenced by my grandmothers, who had very old fashioned, even 19th century attitudes and (or at least pre-1960s) preferences on what was appropriate for various events for THEIR children, grandchildren, etc. to wear - I was wondering what their parents were thinking. Because "prom dresses" may be "dress clothes" but they aren't what I would think of as "funeral clothes". 

One young woman had a dressy jacket on, so that the fact that the dress was strapless was not quite a blatant...but it was still short enough to have been worn by one of the women on Star Trek, the original series.  Just a little fancier than would be seen on a uniform, due to the black lace bodice and overskirt.

Not everyone was wearing black - some of the men wore dark gray suits or even just a white shirt, a tie, and black or dark gray dress pants.  Most, not all, of the women had something black on - jewelry, a print that had black in it, but while not everyone was wearing "mourning" colors - no one was wearing really casual garments, either. 

As to my "fascination" with what people are wearing - I've been like this since I was in elementary school and tried to "recognize" people I was introduced to based on what they were wearing.  I am not face blind - but due to an interest in sewing - clothing attracts my attention more than it does the attention of other people.

I can't help noticing.  I have learned that I can help opening my mouth and ASKING if they know that their hem came out, a button is missing, or that the red mending thread is showing on their gray pants at the center back seam.....so I didn't say anything there (nobody else was likely to have a sewing kit in their purse, with matching thread).

I know that the older generations are more "formal" than the younger people, and I do recognize that I am now in the "older generation" in my fifties. 

But is this drift to more casual clothes and reducing the number of "categories" of clothing to three (or even two) going too far?

I see "dress clothes" for many people seem to range from "Sunday", "Party", "Evening", and "Formal Work Clothes" which seems to include blazers over pants - which used to be informal.  Then there is a category that I would call "Comfortable Informal" - polo shirts, jeans, sundresses, and the like. Followed by "Casual" - which includes what used to be worn clothes saved for painting, gardening, and other sweaty tasks.....and starts as an overlap on the less fitted end of comfortable informal...where they used to be separate categories.

gramma dishes:
No, prom dresses aren't appropriate attire for funerals.  BUT -- I would try to be charitable here.  It may well be all they had as opposed to ripped low-rise jeans and t-shirts with inappropriate sayings on them.  At least they came.

I also think that the requirement for wearing black is no longer much of an issue.  When my Mom reached an age where she knew that almost certainly death was relatively imminent, she mentioned that she really, really wanted to be buried in a particular bright red pants suit.  She expressed concern that someone (other relatives, pastor, funeral home personnel) might think that was inappropriate and not let her be dressed that way.  I assured her that if that happened, I would wear a bright red dress to her funeral and she loved the idea.

I think the most important thing is for guests at a funeral to be clean, neat and dressed as nicely as their wardrobes allow, but the wardrobe part is so variable that I don't think it's worth it to get excited about it unless the people actually look like hookers or something.  I don't think we can assume that clothing chosen is a matter of disrespect.  It's probably more a matter of "Well, I don't have that, but I do have this."

SuperMartianRobotGirl:
I don't think there's a requirement that people wear black for funerals, or that people go out and buy new clothes for a funeral. I think people are just expected to dress as well as they are able. Maybe they didn't want to wear jeans and all they had that was dressy was a prom style dress.

Also there isn't a great deal of warning about when you are going to a funeral, and if you're busy you might just have to wear what's available regardless of whether it would be nice if you could hunt down a matching button and sew it on first.

nutraxfornerves:
I've always been bothered by "He/She wouldn't have wanted me to wear black." How do you know that? Sometimes people express such wishes, but I think it's more often an interesting assumption.

My mother was a very vivid and fun-loving person, but she was also conventional when it came to mourning. I wore a black suit to her funeral. Later in the day, the family and a few close friends went to a relative's house to decompress. Many of us changed into casual clothes, including me. I put on a multi-colored sweater.

The priest, (my mother's cousin) who had also been invited, told me "that's better. She wouldn't have wanted you to wear black." I said nothing, but I was thinking. "Oh, yes she would have. She would have been pleased that I was upholding her standards."

But--a prom dress? Sounds like you are right. "For the funeral, I want you to wear your best clothes."

nolechica:
The dress clothes definition seems to have changed a while ago, much to my delight.  Yes, I do have a funeral dress, but yes I did have to go buy it, which I told my mother at the time, I shouldn't have had to do.  I much prefer pants, black, with a colored top.

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