Author Topic: Funeral Dress Code Seems To Be Changing - "Dress Clothes" Definition  (Read 13575 times)

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VorFemme

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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.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 12:31:39 PM by VorFemme »
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gramma dishes

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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

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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

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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."

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nolechica

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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.

nayberry

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an uncle of mine passed away a number of years ago and he had stated that he didn't want people wearing black to his funeral, so my aunt & parents respected his wishes,  his ex wife turned up with their children and would have put Queen Victoria to shame with her mourning dress.


sadly i've had too many funerals recently (family),  whilst i didn't buy something new, i wore black as the people involved would have expected that.
my husband doesn't wear a suit for work and only owns a grey suit, so he wore that and the only reaction he got was "thank you for coming".

i think if you know the person and how they'd think, then you go with that.  except for the woman who turned up in leopard print and jeans....  that was rude!

cwm

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Personally, I hate dresses and would only wear them when super formal dress was required. I would much rather wear a business outfit to a funeral, in muted colors. I don't own much black outside of band t-shirts and pajama pants, so I don't wear a lot of black to funerals. At both of the churches I've been to for funerals lately, the standard is Sunday best for funerals, try to avoid bright colors. The past three funerals, I've had people comment on how I was dressed, all three times very positively. I don't go to church much, but I know how to dress for a Roman Catholic ceremony.

I don't think a prom dress is completely appropriate, but if these girls were young enough that they didn't own any other "Sunday best" clothes, I don't see them going out and buying new clothes specifically for a funeral. To me, that would just be weird. I'd rather wear what I had around, and if that meant going in a short skirt, then I would go in a short skirt. I see how it could be weird to other people, but to people who have been brought up outside the church environment or in a church where casual clothes are accepted, they might not even know what acceptable clothes are for a service this serious.

My levels of dress clothes are business casual, evening out, business formal, Sunday Mass, formal dance. The last one is the only time I'd ever really consider a skirt to be necessary, and I'd probably detest it the whole time, or hide pants underneath.

shhh its me

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   I do agree with OP that people seem to have confused dress cloths with cocktail party cloths.  Personally I think jeans would be better then a cocktail/prom dress. I don't think there is anything wrong with slacks and a blouse at a funeral. 

But its a funeral and I'd give the benefit of the doubt and assume they only owned the prom dresses and jeans and thought jeans would be disrespectful. 

snappylt

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I, too, am guessing that perhaps the young women may not own any other "dressy" clothes, the prom dresses may be the "nicest" clothes they do own, and they may have been trying to show respect by wearing their best.

AnnaJ

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Thinking about it, OP, I think you're right that the types of clothing most people have in their closet are shrinking...not the number of clothes - I know I have too many - but the type.

I'm also in my 50s and when I was a teenager there were clothes we wore to school (a dress code that forbade pants on girls, among other things), clothes we wore on our own time, 'best' clothes that we wore to church (back when churchwear was more formal), and dressy stuff (proms or other events). 

Today I have two categories - work clothes and non-work clothes (I don't do dressy at this point); since I lean toward black in my work wardrobe I'd be fine for a funeral, but I can see why these girls might not have clothing that wasn't either casual or dressy.   

Sharnita

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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."

Why would you assume they would want you to wear black?  I guess maybe if they insisted that we should go back to the good old days before women were allowed to wear pants in public you might have a clue but I can't imagine why black would/should be the default otherwise. 

Was your mother's cousin really that clear about her standards regarding what colors people should wear to a funeral?  If so then yes, I think black would be the thing to wear.  The thing is - most people aren't because most people genuinely aren't that rigid.  I know a lot of people who have mentioned plans/preferences for funerals and/or burial.  Many have indicated a wish not to be somber which one would probably agree indicates, at the very least, permission not to wear black.  Somme have wanted this music or that music. Buried here or there. They have had choices for their own clothes.  I can honestly say that not even the people born before 1900 ever seemed really into people wearing black, though.  If they had been and made those feelings known I guess we would have tried to abide by it just as we tried to abide by everything else friends and family asked - I just have to say that it has genuinely never been an interest in all of the many family and friends.  I certainly don't see why it would be the default. 

If we make it the default just because it used to be in one time and place, then where does it end? Do we expect that all women come in dresses and veiled?

Lorelei_Evil

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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."

This.  I wear black because I can't find anything darker, but I'll park my POD here.

I cringed when my niece wore Barbie pink strappy top with a mini skirt to her mother's funeral, but it helped an 11 year old child get though the worst day of her life because her mom bought the outfit.  I'll roll with it.  I don't how she walked in those glitter flip flops in March, though!

My mom won't be having a funeral (her wishes), but if she did, I'd avoid her least favorite color, that's all.




violinp

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There's such a thing as being overdressed. Prom gowns or dresses are not okay for church or another place where a funeral is being held. A dark blouse and dark slacks/skirt (even dark wash jeans, if you can't buy slacks) would be fine. Dressing like you're going to a ball is not. I'd rather a person be a little underdressed rather than extremely overdressed.

FTR, I only wear black or black and white to a funeral, because I personally don't feel right about wearing something not as somber. If the deceased had in life requested that everyone wear their favorite color of neon pink, I'd do it to honor their wishes. In absence of that, though, I go for subdued and somber.
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Outdoor Girl

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I am one of those rare people who looks horrible in black.  So while I will wear black dress pants, I won't wear a black top.  I'll wear something in a muted tone but I'm wearing colour so people don't think I should be the one in the coffin.  ;)

I think strapless prom dresses are too dressy for a funeral.  If the skirt is at least half way to the knee and they wear a shrug or jacket with it, I think they are fine.  I was at the funeral for a friend of my Dad's.  Her granddaughter was wearing a black skirt so short, she had to keep tugging it down and if she bent over, it would not have been good.  I think she would have been better off wearing a longer skirt that wasn't black (assuming this short skirt was her only black one), or even dress pants.

I find that funeral dress is changing.  People are wearing nice, business casual clothes, with a little bit of colour but usually at least something dark.  I've see quite a few women with a more colourful blouse under a darker jacket or sweater.  In my mind, it is more important to have all the important bits well covered than to wear black.  If the girls are prominent or you are in danger of mooning someone because your skirt is so short, because you are wearing the only black thing in your closet?  For heaven's sake, wear something else, even if it isn't black.
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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."

Why would you assume they would want you to wear black?  I guess maybe if they insisted that we should go back to the good old days before women were allowed to wear pants in public you might have a clue but I can't imagine why black would/should be the default otherwise. 

Was your mother's cousin really that clear about her standards regarding what colors people should wear to a funeral?  If so then yes, I think black would be the thing to wear.  The thing is - most people aren't because most people genuinely aren't that rigid.  I know a lot of people who have mentioned plans/preferences for funerals and/or burial.  Many have indicated a wish not to be somber which one would probably agree indicates, at the very least, permission not to wear black.  Somme have wanted this music or that music. Buried here or there. They have had choices for their own clothes.  I can honestly say that not even the people born before 1900 ever seemed really into people wearing black, though.  If they had been and made those feelings known I guess we would have tried to abide by it just as we tried to abide by everything else friends and family asked - I just have to say that it has genuinely never been an interest in all of the many family and friends.  I certainly don't see why it would be the default. 

If we make it the default just because it used to be in one time and place, then where does it end? Do we expect that all women come in dresses and veiled?

Nutraxfornerves is talking about her own mother's funeral, not her mother's cousin's funeral, so no assumption there, she really does know what her mother preferred. It was an assumption on the part of the priest (the mother's cousin) who didn't really know the deceased as well as her own daughter did.

I know my mother is the same way. I got some raised eyebrows when I wore blue to a funeral and she asked me why I didn't wear black. She was born in 1934.