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Author Topic: Funeral Dress Code Seems To Be Changing - "Dress Clothes" Definition  (Read 45667 times)

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I look, if I say so myself, good in black. I would be quite happy (re, you know what I mean) to wear black to a funeral.

Otherwise, I think people should Ty to be dressed nicely, but quietly, with a message "I'm wearing my nice clothes to show respect, but not my party clothes as if I'm glad you're dead."
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I agree that what those girls wore was a bit much for a funeral and someone should have instructed them to dress a bit more suitably, but if they were teenagers, I wouldn't hold it against them but the parents who allowed it. 

My older DD and I have been to 2 funerals this year.  The first was my ex husband and we both wore black dress pants, dress shoes, and I wore a grey sweater, she had on a dark green top.  There was various dress styles there, none inappropriate, but not all considered usual funeral appropriate by etiquette standards.  Some of his friends had on jeans and dress shirts..these are guys who probably don't even own dress pants, true blue collar guys, but they weren't sloppy looking, and all manners of colors were worn. 

The second was my DD's very close friend, a really great kid, who unfortunately took his own life at 19.  The majority of mourners (and there were so many) were teenagers to early 20's and the dress styles worn would have made Emily Post cringe, including my own DD who went her usual style, but these were kids mourning one of their own and to me, it would have seemed strange to see these kids in somber suits and dresses..instead they had on their version of dressy, including interesting piercings and hair styles/colors.  And his family greeted each and every kid with a big hug and kind words not even noticing what they were wearing.

I think it really depends on the person who passed..if they were super casual fun loving who wore loud colors, I think it shows a sense of honoring when people dress like that, or if great grandma was a conservative woman, I would go conservative.  When I was 16 and a good friend died, his parents asked the over 200 people coming to the funeral to wear jeans and t shirts for the services and we all did and I think he looked down and smiled at all of us.

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POD to Twik's "nicely but quietly."

People rarely, if ever, shop with funerals in mind. They don't at a prospective clothing purchase and consider whether they can wear it to a wake or funeral. We don't associate death with clothing, and only the morbidly minded think about people they know dying and the rituals associated with that event. Add to that factors like economic status and IMHO, it seems very uncharitable to criticize what someone wears, esp. to a funeral.

I think "as respectable, respectful and clean as possible" is the best anyone should hope for at a funeral.  I also agree with *inviteseller that it may depend on whose funeral it is and their relationship to you. Sober colors seem more appropriate, but what if the deceased loved that colorful dress you have - what if they even bought it for you?

As long as the clothing is not messy or getting in the way, the focus should be on the deceased, not mourner's supposed fashion faux pas.
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I think part of the problem is where people are shopping.  When I was a teen, the teen stores were places like Forever 21 or H&M.  They didn't sell those nicer, modest, or simple clothing.  Teen stores tend to sell trends, not classics.  If I wanted classic, I had to go to department stores, but a teen shopping on their own thinks:  Formal = dress that is evening appropriate, goes to the stores they are used to, and picks from what they have.


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I would rather wear my own (20 year old) prom dress to a funeral than wear jeans, so if the choices were a rather "off" dress or denim, I totally get where they are coming from. To me, jeans would feel disrespectful to such a significant degree that I would be extremely uncomfortable. I know other people disagree and I would not judge anyone who wore jeans.

I also think young people do see "dressing up" as relatively the same across most occasions.

ETA - I'm focusing on jeans because that's something most young people have in their wardrobe, but you could substitute athletic pants, hiking pants, etc.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 01:52:13 PM by delabela »


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I look good in black - so I have black pants, black skirt, black & white sun dress (new), and a couple of basic black dresses in the closet.  Not entirely on purpose - but it did make it easier to pack for a somber event.

As to two of the teenagers in prom dresses - one of them had a NEW church dress (recently baptized) but it was RED.  Not what her parents were thinking of when packing for an uncle's funeral...and they may not have realized that she'd grown quite so much since prom - she was 5' 8" a short while ago, is now about two inches taller, and still growing (the basketball coaches at her high school are very happy with her height - her parents are having trouble keeping up with the growth spurts).   

It was short enough that she didn't dare bend over....

Her mother is six feet tall and built "in proportion" - ready to wear is not ready for that family to shop off the rack.  I kept my mouth shut about the deep décolleté on "Mom's" funeral dress - I would have added a scarf tucked into the neckline or a lace modesty panel, if it were me.  And I have the same issue with ready to wear and tend to buy knits for a little extra help in the fitting situation.  But I was staying in a hotel room with my dad preacher & my mom the preacher's wife and a preacher's daughter - so I had gone through my wardrobe to make sure that there was NO risk of "wardrobe malfunctions". 

Not everyone has to consider their "room mates" at the hotel quite the same way....
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 02:13:18 PM by VorFemme »
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About three years ago I went a funeral for the relative of a friend whose family is Jewish.  We are not Jewish.  I saw only  black being worn.  I, on the other hand, was wearing a brown and white print summer dress.  It was more brown than white.  I had my young daughter with me and I dressed her in a navy sailor dress, all navy with a small amount of white trim.  It was a very hot day and I thought that we would fit right in but I felt like we stuck out. 


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This made me chuckle a little.  When my grandmother passed away, I decided to wear a dark green dress to her memorial instead of any of my black ones (I'm a recovering goth girl and have quite a few).  The dress is conservative and flattering at the same time.  Since I was giving one of the eulogies, I decided to dress in something that would make me feel confident standing in front of a very full room.  My grandmother was a florist.  The dark green of my attire, in my mind, honored her green thumb.  It was a comfort on a rough day.


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The last funeral I went to was my uncle's. One of his daughters was wearing a sundress (with straps) in a black, white and green print. She had to travel a fair distance to get to the funeral on time, and my guess is that this was the "blackest" dress she had, and she had no time for shopping before the funeral. And it was an exceedingly hot summer day.

I think the rules about all black have relaxed significantly. Mostly, I see people in somber colors--black, gray, dark blue--with maybe a colored shirt. Bright, cheery colors seem to go against the solemn nature of the ceremony, unless the deceased requested them. I usually wear gray, because so many people don't wear all black, unless I'm closely related to the deceased. Wearing all black from head to toe makes me feel like I'm pretending a closer relationship than I really had. I do wear all black for certain funerals where I know that it is expected of all attending--it's usually a cultural thing.

At a recent visitation/wake I attended, many of the teenagers present were in t-shirts and jeans. While my parents, back in the 60s, always made sure that us kids had a "good" outfit, I don't think the same rules apply today. T-shirts and jeans may be all that those kids have.

It's so easy not to attend a wake or funeral--you don't get much notice, people are mostly pretty scheduled these days. So I try to focus on the fact that these people *did* make the time, *did* interrupt their plans, to come and comfort the bereaved. Yes, I'd like to see everyone properly dressed. But they are there. And they could so easily be somewhere else.

So I agree with PPs that the girls in the OP's post probably had a choice between those prom dresses and very casual clothing.

Small children shouldn't be dressed in black--that's the opinion of most etiquette mavens. "Sunday best" is what is advised for them.

Many years ago, I realized that once I wore something to a funeral, I never wore it again. It wasn't a conscious thought, but I simply never wore those clothes again. Now I own a gray funeral dress and it only comes out for funerals.

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn

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I grew up with the notion that one needed a day dress/outfit (not a business suit), a cocktail/semi-formal dress/outfit, a real evening dress/outfit, something appropriate for a wedding (one of the above will normally do) and something appropriate for a funeral, plus business, casual and grubby/sports-specific clothes, quantities and styles as indicated by lifestyle and climate. This was called a "wardrobe" and it was built over time out of good quality clothes, to an actual plan, rather than through the mindless accumulation of random clothing items.  Or so I learned.
 I travel for work, and almost always wear trousers.  I have two "all-purpose" black suits that can be dressed up to evening or down to business as needed.  They are my go-to outfits for nearly everything, and certainly a funeral. My warderobe is based on black, because I can wear it, and it makes packing easier and one's clothing bills cheaper if everything is in one color family.  If I based my wardrobe on brown, navy blue, or green, I would find those colors just fine for a funeral, provided the outfit appeared appropriate in style, and I wouldn't blink at a print dress or bright blouse as long as the outfit was a daytime style.  I raised my children with this notion of things a basic wardrobe requires -- adjustments to dinner jackets and at least one dark suit for the boys, and, yes, they own them -- but nobody seems to do this any more.  People have clothes, but not wardrobes selected to cover all the social bases one touches in daily life.  I can see a younger person having nothing but a lot of very casual clothes for everyday wear and one very dressy cocktail/evening dress bought for a prom, because jeans and T-shirts are all most people ever wear anymore.   I'd cut the kids a pass, but hope that somebody puts out a "How to Build a Great Wardrobe On A Budget" book for young people soon.


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camlan..I have a beautiful pair of black pinstripe dress pants..they are my favorite pants but after I wore them to my SO's funeral 2 years ago, they have never come out of my closet again and the adorable dress my DD wore that day..well, I admit I threw it out after because I never wanted to see her in it again.  She loved that dress, picked it out herself (not for the funeral either) but I just could not even think of her ever wearing it again knowing she wore it to her dad's funeral.


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In unfortunately attended the memorial service cof a good friends's husband last week. Since they'd have teens boys, there were many teens in attendance. I was actuallyb quite suprisedv that every one of they young men were either vin dress pants, button down and tie or were in a full suit. The young women were ally traditionally dressed for a funeral.

While black was a predominant color, many of the women were in black pants with a conservative blouse; others were in dresses in shades of grey or brown.

There were a few men in jeans and a sports jacket.

Maybe because I attend at least one funeral every couple of years, I try to have something in my closet that is acceptable. I also made sure to have something appropriate for my kids. There have been sports jackets my son wore once before out growing. But my DD has a closet full of prom, home coming, and other dance dresses that were only worn once.


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My brother wore khaki pants and a navy green fleece pull over to my dad's funeral and he gave the eulogy.

My father died suddenly.  When he first got sick we called my brother to come to the hospital.  He drove 12 hours to get here.  By then my father had died.  The whole day was spent in shock and we arranged for a fast funeral.  MY brother never had time, money or the urge to go buy something new to wear.

I had a black dress to wear only because my entire closet it half black dresses.  My mother wore blue because it is what she has and in her mental state and honestly her size and shape buying anything dressy takes a lot of shopping to find something decent.

I personally have always felt that the judgement that some people make on what a person wears to a funeral is kinda mean.  In the long run what does it really matter?  People place too much importance on how other people look.
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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.

The priest "knew" that my mother would have wanted everyone in bright colors. I knew she would have wanted what to her were "funeral clothes." Not necessarily black, but somber, respectful, and not casual.

Nowadays, I would choose the kind of outfit I'd wear to a formal business meeting, but not in a bright color. (I just might wear a bright red suit to a business meeting.)

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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.

I find it hard to believe that you thought it was appropriate to judge what a child wore to their parent's funeral. My father died when I was 8 and all my siblings and I simply wore our best clothes. For my sister and I did not include black but instead dresses with flowers and lace (in January). I don't know if it was on purpose or if it was because our mother was too overwhelmed to do otherwise. However, I'd hate to think that anybody there was judging us for not wearing traditional mourning.