What should I wear to a funeral or visitation?

Attending a funeral service or visitation allows you to pay your respects to the deceased and support the loved ones mourning their passing. You do this through your behavior, but also through your attire. While funerals are often unexpected, it is easy to plan an outfit that is both simple and tasteful. Here are a few guidelines on what to wear to a funeral or visitation.

We recommend wearing dark or neutral colors, because darker colors reflect the mourning atmosphere of the service or visitation. Clothing can be formal (think suits and dresses) or casual (pants or nice jeans and shirts). Standards of dress for funerals have greatly relaxed in the past decade or so, but if in doubt, it is always better to dress a little more formally, such as what you might wear to a job interview. 

Keep things simple. A funeral service is an event designed for loved ones and the community to say goodbye to the deceased and to reflect on their life. You won’t want to wear flashy or elaborate clothing, jewelry or other accessories. Some services today are filmed and live-streamed online with a certain portion of the guests in view of the camera. Brightly colored clothing will be a distraction for viewers. Also, consider avoiding perfume and cologne, because many have respiratory sensitivities that may be affected already by scented floral arrangements. 

Considering that many funeral services are followed by outdoor burials at a cemetery gravesite, it is also essential to plan an outfit that is comfortable and appropriate for seasonal weather.

There are exceptions to the recommendations above. For the funeral of a veteran, it is perfectly acceptable for service members to dress in a military uniform. Or if your religion or the religion of the deceased calls for a specific style of dress, you should certainly follow those rules. 

Many people consider funerals a celebration of life rather than a sad occasion. If the family asks attendees to dress in a more upbeat manner (such as in the colors of their loved one’s favorite sports team, for example), you should feel free to follow their request.
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