As people opt more for celebrations of life and less for traditional funerals, it only makes sense that what people wear is changing too. I asked my 78 year old mother her advice. She is always is dressed appropriately for every occasion, and unfortunately she has lost several friends and has recently attended several funerals. She’s 78, but don’t think old lady dressing. She keeps up with fashion and knows the trends. Doesn’t mean she follows them; she’s not wearing colored skinny jeans this season. We’ll both leave that trend to the 20 year olds, but I’d never call her frumpy.
Her advice is, first ask friends if the type of dress has been suggested. Sometimes life celebrations have a theme such as the colors from the departed’s favorite sport team, or the person’s favorite color. If no suggestions have been provided, Mom says dress for where the service is being held. If it’s at a church and then an upscale reception at a club or restaurant afterwards, she suggests dressier attire. Coat and tie for men and skirt and jacket, dress or dressy pant suit for women. If men are not sure whether to wear a tie or not, bring one and when you pull into the parking lot look at what other men are wearing. If none have a tie on, leave it in the car. Better to have it and not need it than to be the only man without a tie on.
If it’s a reception at a more casual restaurant, you could opt for more business casual, sport coat, dress shirt and nice pants for men and skirt and top or sweater for women or pants suit. The colors do not need to be all black. If the service is intended to be more of a celebration of life, Mom says you don’t need to wear black. She suggests for men a navy, or charcoal suit with a tie that has some color in it. For women, perhaps a brighter color blouse with a black or darker color shawl with either a skirt or dress pants. Unless suggested by the host (part of a casual theme), never jeans and never tennis shoes. You’ll also want to consider the season; cold winter weather will mean warm overcoats and spring and summer will be lighter clothing and perhaps a bit more color.
Lastly, if the venue is a community center for the funeral, memorial service or celebration of life, consider wearing less formal attire with a bit more color.
Her final words were, a funeral is not the place to make a fashion statement, and it’s not about drawing attention to yourself, but about paying your respects to the departed and being there for family and friends. She also suggested attractive but comfortable shoes. You may be standing at the gathering and perhaps walking a bit so women may want to avoid too high of heals especially if you may be walking on grass.