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What to Wear to a Funeral (Men)

If you’ve recently been invited to a funeral, you may be wondering what to wear - particularly if you’ve never attended a funeral before. While there are many factors that determine the right funeral attire (the time of year, the cultural and religious customs of the person who has passed, and so on), there are some basic rules that men should follow in order to ensure that they are dressed appropriately for the occasion.

Table of Contents 

  1. What Should Men Wear To A Funeral?
  2. Is A Suit Required Funeral Attire?
  3. Do Men Need To Wear All Black To A Funeral?
  4. What Shoes Are Best For A Funeral?
  5. What If It’s Very Hot (or Cold) Outside?

What Should Men Wear to a Funeral?

Generally speaking, men should dress formally and conservatively for a funeral. This is an occasion in which it’s crucial not to draw attention to yourself for what you’re wearing, because the last thing you want to do is offend the bereaved family. Bright colors, jeans and shorts are distracting and inappropriate.

Is a Suit Required Funeral Attire?

Assuming you’re attending a fairly traditional funeral service, a suit is advisable -  particularly if you are very close to the family of the deceased, or if you are a pallbearer. But it’s not absolutely required. If you don’t own a suit, you could consider renting one; if not, opt for dress pants and a white button-down shirt with a dark, solid tie. Avoid khakis if possible, as they are not formal enough - and don’t wear denim under any circumstances.

Do Men Need to Wear Black to a Funeral?

Not necessarily. While black is the customary color for most Western funerals, any dark color is generally acceptable. Gray, navy and dark brown in particular are good options. Just be sure to steer clear of bright, loud colors or patterns. 

It should be noted, however, that in some cultures, wearing light colors to a funeral is not only acceptable, but encouraged. In the Hindu religion, most people wear white to funerals; in China, guests are allowed to wear white with shades of red or pink - but only if the deceased lived past the age of 80. If you’re unsure about whether or not lighter colors are acceptable at the funeral you’re attending, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dress in darker hues.

What Shoes Are Best for a Funeral?

Dress shoes are really the only appropriate option here; sneakers are an absolute no-no. Oxfords are best, although loafers are acceptable if they’re fancy enough. Color-wise, aim for black; if you don’t own black shoes, you can wear dark brown. Make sure your shoes are clean and properly shined, too. And note that a funeral is probably not the best occasion in which to break in a new pair of shoes, as you may be doing a fair amount of standing and walking.

What if it’s Very Hot (or Cold) Outside?

If you live in a warm climate and you’re attending a funeral in the middle of summer, the prospect of wearing a suit might be a little daunting. However, it’s still important to dress appropriately. In the summer months, choose a cotton suit (make sure the material is on the heavier side, or else it may wrinkle easily and give a somewhat disheveled appearance). No one will be offended if you remove your suit jacket, either, as long as you’re wearing a presentable, button-down shirt underneath. Bear in mind, too, that you probably won’t be spending all of your time outdoors, and you may actually appreciate the extra comfort that a suit jacket provides in an air-conditioned environment.

In the wintertime, wool suits are a good option. You can also layer a sweater underneath your suit jacket (choose a neutral, solid color), or wear a dark overcoat to provide extra warmth. Again, you most likely won’t be spending all of your time outdoors, so make sure that what you’re wearing will also be comfortable in an indoor, heated atmosphere.

Every funeral is unique, and the rules regarding appropriate attire may vary depending on the situation. But with these simple tips on what to wear, you’re ensured of making the right impression and conveying your respect.