The Playbook For The Modern Man

A Guide To Dressing Well Yet Appropriately For A Funeral

Condolences with a touch of class

The art of dressing appropriately for the occasion is always a delicate affaire, but at no time is it more delicate than when attending a funeral.

Funerals are respectful occasions, and part of being respectful is dressing properly. More often than not, style is about dressing for yourself, expressing your personality and showing off your unique approach to fashion. But when it comes to what to wear to a funeral, you are dressing for the deceased and the deceased’s family.

Your outfit is meant to be a representation of your grief, so go subtle, subdued and classic.


Funeral Etiquette

Funeral etiquette is a topic that never crosses your mind until suddenly you find yourself needing it. Most men muddle their way through the funeral at hand, hoping for the best, then forget about the subject until they have to muddle through the next one.

But you are not most men, so you would like to learn what’s expected of a well-behaved gentleman at a funeral. It is your job to be a source of support during a difficult time, so act with tact, respect, sensitivity and dignity. Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • If you do not plan to attend the funeral service, send a letter of condolence. It need not be long, but it does need to be sincere. And please, 21st century or not, do not write a condolence email or Facebook post. These circumstances necessitate the personal touch of your handwriting.
  • If you are family or a close friend of the deceased, pay a visit to their family’s home to express your sympathy before the funeral. Offer your help in some way. Bring food so the family doesn’t have to think about cooking while grieving, babysit, or run errands for them.
  • If you’re attending a wake or funeral and aren’t close to the family, introduce yourself and explain how you know the deceased. Don’t leave them awkwardly guessing during an already difficult time.
  • Always go to the funeral if you can. They are uncomfortable and emotional, but it’s an important expression of respect and humanity, and the family will never forget your show of support.
  • Turn off your smartphone during the service.
  • Don’t be late, don’t be early, and don’t be disruptive.
  • And finally dress appropriately, which means… reading on

Funeral Ready Suits

Black or grey is the only way

Dark colours are a must. A black suit is best, followed by dark grey and then dark navy. If you don’t own a full suit, wear dark dress pants with a dress shirt and tie, and as soon as possible question why you don’t own a suit. Rectify the situation immediately.

If the funeral is held in a church, leave your jacket on during the ceremony. If it’s held in a warm climate, outside, and during the day, you may leave the jacket off.

Never attend a funeral service in jeans, a t-shirt, sneakers or anything else you would wear on your day off. Even if other men present are thusly attired, resist the urge to go casual unless you’ve received specific instructions from the family to do so.

RELATED: How To Wear A Black Suit

Shirts & Ties For A Funeral

Opt for white or black shirts with plain ties

A white dress shirt is the standard, but a black shirt also an acceptable option. Where neckwear is concerned, go conservative. Solids or simple patterns only, in black or another dark, restrained colour. Avoid anything with loud patterns or bright colours. Your novelty ties covered in martini glasses or leopard spots will need to stay home.

Regardless of what conservative outfit you choose, make sure your clothes are pressed, clean and odour-free, that your dress shoes are polished, and that you are well groomed. A funeral is not the time to dress in a way that makes you stand out.


Finishing Touch Funeral Accessories

Choose classic black, silver and grey accessories

Take into account the temperature and weather when dressing for a funeral. Choose appropriate outerwear, particularly if you will be outdoors. Plan to wear a long black coat or a dark dress coat if the weather is cold, and bring a dark umbrella if rain is in the forecast. If you’ve brought a hat, don’t wear it during the service.

As a rule of thumb, dress as you would for a job interview. Anything too flashy is not appropriate, so save your pink silk pocket square for another occasion. We love statement shades, but stick with classic sunglasses for a funeral if they’ll be needed. Jewellery should be kept to a minimum.

One accessory that you almost can’t go wrong with is flowers. Flowers can be sent or brought to the funeral home, to the church, or to the deceased’s family’s home. Attach a card expressing your sympathies. Different faiths have different traditions regarding flowers for funerals, so determine what’s appropriate before taking action. If the family requests donations in lieu of flowers, honour their request.

In fact, honour all requests of the family, even if (and especially if) they ask you to wear that martini glass novelty tie.

Read Next

  • disqus_TndbkIhR5M

    Do you have any more information on those cufflinks in image 4 please?

  • Luc Wiesman

    They will have been from MR Porter

  • john

    Is it appropriate for a man to wear tan shoes with the dark suit?

  • Guillaume De Keijser

    Well written article. I went to my last funeral and was dressed so bad that I can’t let that happen again.

  • suites mcgree

    Just remember people… The suit don’t make the man, The man makes the suit. Its how a man pull its off wearing one cause let’s face it,would you rather look like Mr Bean in a suit or like Daniel Craig? I rest my case.

  • Luc Wiesman

    That can be fine. Just as long as they’re a dark tan.

  • john

    Thanks, Luc!

  • Vale darby

    That Was good but funeral is not a place where people are coming to observe another people so it was little disturbing but at the same time one should know what to wear at these places

  • Joe Joejoe

    Mr. Bean looks like Mr. Bean because he’s Mr. Bean. i.e. Daniel Craig only looks better in a suit because he’s better looking, while Mr. Bean is a pretty ugly man.

  • Chuck

    Excellent advice, can of course be personalized somewhat. Many times people do not have a clue what to wear. Many are younger, never been taught either.

  • MCW_IV

    But you get idiots like me going to my Mum’s funeral and have no idea what to wear, this has been helpful to me. I don’t want to embarrass myself or my Mum

  • Celeste Rothstein

    My husband is bald and has had some pre-cancerous growths removed from the top of his head. He needs to go to an outdoor funeral. Does he need to keep his hat off during the entire ceremony? I mean, he wears sunscreen but it gets rubbed off pretty easily. It’s kind of dangerous for him to have the sun on his head, especially if he’s sitting in the sun and the service is long. Thoughts?

  • arcadelt

    No one wants someone to risk their health for the sake of ceremony or propriety, therefore I would suggest it would be OK for your husband to wear a small-brimmed dark coloured hat throughout the service. However, please no baseball cap or similar.

  • Celeste Rothstein

    Thanks; I felt the same.

  • Marilyn

    Why no baseball caps? This “Stepford” article is flat out stupid and a whole lot of snobbiness.

  • Marilyn

    Idiotic article. Go to a funeral in jeans and a tank top – who the hell cares? This isn’t’ some fashion red carpet for the people in mourning, it’s about the deceased… no one cares what you’re wearing… absolutely NO ONE Seriously.

  • arcadelt

    Why no rainbow shirts and clown shoes then? Where would you set the boundaries?

  • Marilyn

    I set MY “boundaries” based on what my loved one/friend was like in real life. But hey you keep on keeping one with your stepford style…..
    Again this article is for snobs

  • arcadelt

    Marilyn, so much judgement and assumptions here from you. Firstly, I have no idea what “stepford style” is. Secondly, people seek out articles like this when they are not entirely certain about how to respectfully enter into a social situation, and this is reasonable conservative advice. Thirdly, not every funeral you attend is for a friend or family member who you knew well, so sometime you just want to follow the safe and well trodden path rather than the modern do-anything-you-feel-is-right approach. Fourthly, if railing against this style is your thing, what the hell are you doing here? Lastly, why focus on me and my comment – are you just bored today and felt like you needed to reach out to someone on the Internet to express your disdain?

  • Marilyn

    Never heard of stepford wives? And I said CLEAR:Y that I bse how I dress for a funeral on WHO THE PERSON WAS… GOT IT? Now PISS OFF holy fu**

  • Marilyn

    I express my OPINION – if YOU took it as “disdain” then well….. hey that’s your issue. LATER
    And PS I don’t go to funerals for anyone I didn’t know very well in life – good lord. You do you and I’ll do me ok hunny?

  • arcadelt

    No Marilyn, I haven’t heard of “stepford wives” – is it some kind of thing in your country?

    I’m sorry that you are getting upset, but since you chimed in with your judgement on my comment, I think I’m perfectly entitled to respond.

  • Alex Johnston

    Please don’t come to my funeral

  • Alex Johnston

    Every meme in the last five years has been based off the cringe above

  • Marilyn

    I doubt you’ll have to worry about many coming to it. Pi** off

  • Marilyn

    Huh? Digging into comments made more than a month ago? How sad for you

  • david schwartz

    A hat outdoors is perfectly acceptable.. as is an umbrella. The goal here is to pay respects to the deceased. It is a somber event. Hat’s should be more formal and dark in color. You aren’t cheering your favorite team. No baseball caps. Nothing with a wide brim. At a Jewish funeral, I’m fairly certain a yarmulke is perfectly appropriate. Likewise the umbrella should be black or maybe dark gray. It isn’t about standing out in a crowd. The goal is to blend in as much as possible. Deeply religious people may have a specific dress code they need to follow.

  • Jake Brandel

    Lmao Marilyn for the win !


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