Do You Have to Wear Black to a Funeral?

Do You Have to Wear Black to a Funeral?

Wearing black for a funeral is customary and a frequent tradition among many religions and cultural backgrounds. Dark or black clothing is usually considered a sign of respect and is traced all the way back to Roman tradition. The wearing of black clothing has been accepted and held as standard funeral attire for centuries, especially in the western world and nations like the United States. 

Despite the wide-spread popularity of wearing black to a funeral, in terms of whether your are obligated to wear the color to a funeral, the answer is no. When deciding what to wear to a funeral service according to funeral customs and traditions, attendees have an array of options to choose from besides all-black attire. 

Nevertheless, black remains a popular and practical option usually accepted at most funeral ceremonies. In this post, we’ll go over these numerous options in regard to funeral attire, and ultimately why black is still considered the most appropriate and a reasonable option. 

What Should You Wear to a Funeral Ceremony?

Funerals exude a somber and melancholy ambiance. Unless specified otherwise, it is usually wise and a form of respect to stick to modest and conservative clothing featuring neutral or dark colors. Avoid flashy or bright colors that can attract attention and detract from the nature of the event. This typically also implies that casual wear such as jeans and flip-flops should be avoided and you should opt for closed-toe shoes and formal attire. While black or dark clothing is usually the standard at funerals, you may have more options of colors you can wear as well, depending on the preferences for the funeral you are attending.   

Do you Have to Wear Black to a Funeral?

Although black will always remain the most traditional color, at most funeral ceremonies, other colors besides black are accepted and welcomed. For example, the similar type of clothing and colors you’d wear for a conservative interview or church event are usually a safe bet. 

What Can You Wear to a Funeral Besides Black Clothing?

Although it can be tough deciding on funeral attire that is not black, you have a few options to consider: 

  1. Darker suits that are not necessarily black are usually ok.
  2. White, light, or dark gray dresses offer comfort and are also ok.
  3. A white shirt or blouse with gray or black plants.
  4. White shirt with white pants or white skirt.
  5. Gray or dark tie.
  6. A white blouse with a black or gray blazer on top.
  7. Beige or very light pastel colors are also sometimes accepted.
  8. Navy or dark blue clothing is also ok most of the time.

Just try to keep it modest whenever wearing something that is not black. And remember that when attending a funeral, it is still usually best to overdress and look your best then it is to underdress. 

Final Thoughts

When attending a funeral ceremony, above all, the main factor to consider is the emotional nature of the ceremony and to be prepared to pay your respects. Consider the location of the funeral to determine what would be best to wear. For example, a funeral ceremony held by the beach or anywhere outside usually requires lighter and less formal clothing, while a funeral home would require more formal and modest clothing. Also, depending on the family’s traditions and cultural background, some cultures prefer for those attending to wear bright colors or very specific clothing items. It’s always a good idea to read the invitation or obituary specifications or to understand what is expected of you so you can adhere to the wishes of the bereaved. 

If you wish to learn more about funeral ceremonies and religious traditions all around the globe make sure to browse our list of resources where we cover everything from specific attire to funeral gifts according to cultural and religious standards and protocols. 

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