Your Guide to Funeral Planning | 10.31.2022

Why Do People Usually Wear Black to a Funeral?

Why Do People Usually Wear Black to a Funeral?

Reviewed By: William Prout

Cross Checked By: Joshua Siegel


    Losing A Loved One

    The death of a loved one is the cause of extreme grief. It takes time and patience to get through this heartbreaking process. No matter how prepared you think you are, you cannot prepare for the sensation of loss. Deciding what to wear to a funeral is an important choice, given how sensitive of an occasion it is. With tensions running high, you want to ensure that you’re dressed appropriately and do not cause any offense to anyone. In addition, everyone attending in the same color can bolster a sense of unity and empathy, making the goodbye a little bit easier. When deciding what to wear to a funeral, you should take into account funeral etiquettes, the funeral dress code, the venue, weather and sentimental value.

    The History of Wearing Black to a Funeral

    The tradition of wearing black to a funeral can be traced back to the Roman Empire, where citizens would switch their white toga to a black one to match the solemnity of the event. In Europe during the Middle Ages, black was worn largely at the funeral of the rich and affluent, as black clothing was expensive and hard to come by. Queen Victoria is also recognised as a proponent of this tradition, wearing black to her husband Prince Albert’s funeral to express her mourning. For the rest of her life, she only wore black and the color became synonymous with her persona. The noble classes took inspiration from the Queen and followed suit. Today, the practice remains prevalent particularly in Western nations, with black attire at a funeral becoming the norm.

    Different Dress Codes Around the Globe

    While wearing black to a funeral seems like the only option in movies and television, there are actually a variety of different dress codes for funerals around the globe. Hindus and Buddhists wear white to funerals, and consider it a color of purity. In South Africa, red is worn at funerals while it is banned for funerals in China. In Thailand and many places in South America, purple is worn at funerals. In Papua New Guinea, many women apply a gray clay to their bodies upon a loved one’s death.

    The Importance of Dressing Appropriately

    Given how delicate the occasion is, choosing what to wear to a funeral is a crucial decision. You want to make sure you're dressed adequately and don't offend anyone because the situation is stressful. If the deceased detailed a particular dress code, it is important to respect that. The idea of humanist and colorful funerals is gaining traction, with many people including a colorful dress code in their death planning. The idea is to celebrate their life rather than mourn their death, turning a somber occasion into a bittersweet one.