In this article, we’ll be discussing how to dress appropriately for a funeral as a man. We will also share some tips on what not to do and some general etiquette guidelines when attending funeral services.
When someone in our lives passes away, a whole world of difficulties opens up. No matter if you’re a family member of the deceased or simply someone attending a service to pay your respects, dressing appropriately is of the utmost importance.
Showing care for how you dress while in the presence of those mourning is one of the strongest signals of respect and care that you can send. Below, we’ll do a garment-by-garment breakdown of what you should wear when the occasion calls for somberness.
How To Dress For A Funeral: An Overview
The overall idea is to show an appropriate amount of respect for the deceased and his/her family while simultaneously not drawing attention to yourself. The phrase “This isn’t about you” applies to funerals a million times over. Keep that in mind when looking through your closet.
When in doubt, think of what you’d wear to a job interview and use that as a baseline.
Your suit should be very dark in color, regardless of the season. Dark navy and charcoal are good options, and funerals are one of the only appropriate times to wear a black suit during the day. Either single or double-breasted jackets are appropriate, though our feeling is that younger men (under 45) should opt for single-breasted jackets. As with anything, it should be well-fitted and in good repair.
If you were to get rid of the lapel pins and change the pocket square to simple white, Paul Anthony shows us a great example of how to dress in an appropriately sober fashion below, even in an odd jacket and trousers:
An important thing to remember about your suit is its cut: even in an appropriately dark color, a super-slim or horrendously baggy suit is inappropriate as it calls attention to yourself at a time when it’s very uncouth to do so. Here’s a quick visual refresher on proper fit:
If you don’t own a suit, dark trousers and a jacket will work in a pinch. With that said, read our take on what your first suit should be when you have a moment.
If you don’t own a jacket and can’t borrow one that fits well, wear trousers, a dress shirt, and a dark sweater if the weather calls for it.
A simple white or blue barrel cuff shirt is appropriate. French cuffs are formal, but too flashy for a funeral. Ensure that it’s properly ironed or steamed, fits well, and is in good condition.
Your shoes should always be in good repair, but this is particularly crucial at a funeral.
In general, your accessories should be kept to a minimum. Here’s what you should wear:
- A tie in a dark color: Black, navy blue, and deep maroon are appropriate. No bow ties.
- A white cotton or linen pocket square: Adding a tasteful finishing touch shows respect for the occasion. Also, if there’s ever going to be a time you’ll want a second handkerchief, it’s now. People around you will likely be crying (you yourself may be), and offering a handkerchief to a grieving person shows a high level of gentlemanliness.
- A watch and a wedding band: This should be the extent of your jewelry for the day under most circumstances. The watch should be simple like this Omega Seamaster, which has a simple face and a dressy band. Unless you and the deceased were in the same graduating class in college, no one cares about your class ring.
- Sunglasses: If you will be outside for any portion of the funeral, you may wear sunglasses. Like the rest of your garb, they should be appropriately quiet and conservative. Stick to black, metallic, or tortoiseshell frames in reasonable sizes. Bold colors and oversized frames are improper in this instance and should be avoided.
What Not To Wear To Funerals
Sometimes it can be just as (if not more) helpful to know what not to wear than what to wear. We suggest avoiding:
- Too much jewelry: A funeral is not the time to adorn yourself with superfluous decoration. As we said above, keep it simple and minimal.
- Literal and figurative loud things: In the literal sense, this ties back to wearing too much jewelry. Bracelets in particular can clang together, and this can be a very unwelcome distraction.
In the figurative sense, clothing that’s brightly colored, patterned, or has text on it is far too loud insofar as it draws attention to itself. This is fine for date night, but not in the presence of a grieving family.
- Too much cologne: By all means smell nice, but don’t overdo it on the Paco Rabanne. You run the risk of making others cough, which is another distraction you want to avoid.
General Tips On Funeral Etiquette
A solemn event such as a funeral requires more than just looking the part. Knowing how to comport oneself and when to make exceptions to the guidelines above is hugely important.
- Honor the requests of the family: Many funerals are just as much a celebration of life as they are a marker of death. The family may make a request that is out of step with one of our guidelines above. If that happens, do what the family asks. They may want attendees to wear something more festive, for example.
- Don’t call attention to yourself: Again, a funeral service is not about you. You want to show appropriate respect to the deceased and his/her family, and dressing in an appropriately conservative way is how to do this. Look presentable, but not sexy.
- Be well-groomed: If you keep a beard, make sure it’s trimmed. If you don’t, make sure you’re 100% clean-shaven. Shower, brush your teeth, and make sure your hair is in order. In showing this respect for yourself, you’ll show respect for those around you.
- Have an umbrella: If it might rain, be prepared.
Funerals can be difficult to dress for as you have to walk the line between looking presentable and looking attractive. It can be a bit of a minefield, and we hope that the information above is useful for you in what can otherwise be a difficult time.
If you need information on how to dress for other occasions such as a job interview or a wedding, click here.