|“Do you have to wear black to a funeral?” a reader once asked me. “Is it some type of requirement?”
Once upon a time, the answer was yes. Black symbolizes mourning in Western Cultures, and wearing black or dark clothes to funerals has long been considered a sign of respect. Black was the first choice for centuries, up through the 1970s.
Today the rules are much less rigid. While black is still appropriate, any subdued color like brown, gray, navy, or burgundy is also considered acceptable. I have seen lighter, brighter colors at funerals – a friend of mine wore a buttery yellow to her son’s funeral because it was his favorite color on her – but generally, darker, more somber tones reflect the seriousness of the occasion. Your goal is to blend in with the other mourners and keep attention where it should be: on the deceased and his or her family.
|Opt for formal or semiformal business attire, including suits, coat dresses, skirts, and the like. Nice pants are also acceptable, particularly during inclement weather.
What’s unacceptable? Flashy, flamboyant attire or accessories like short skirts, revealing necklines, sheer clothes, or metallic handbags. Extremely casual attire like jeans and t-shirts are also a no-no. Again, your goal is to be respectful and blend in, not get everyone to look at you.
That said, remember that funerals often mean unplanned reunions as family members, friends, and colleagues reunite to mourn the passing. You’ll be seeing people you may not have seen in years, so keep that in mind as you determine what to wear.
If you’re the sort that likes to plan ahead, try to keep something in your closet that would work for a funeral, like a dark suit, dress, or skirt. That way, you’re not scrambling to find something amid the stress, travel, and confusion of the death and funeral arrangements.
|Diana Pemberton is an image consultant and author of Occasion Magic, an ebook that teaches women what to wear for various occasions.|