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How to dress for a funeral or wake


Wakes and funerals are somber occasions. We attend them to grieve, mourn and bring closure to a relationship. But, what about our attire? There was a time when people wore all black both to the funeral and the visitation. Times have changed but there are still rules that need to be followed.


If it was a loved one who died you will probably be expected to attend both the visitation (or wake) and the funeral services. If it was someone you worked with or knew casually, paying your respects at the visitation is all that you are expected to do. Funerals are for family and very close friends. Both events require you to dress in a conservative manner.




















What type of clothes do I wear?


The Wake. Visitations are usually from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm and/or 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. If you are attending the wake of someone you knew casually, you might be coming from your job. In that case, make sure that you dress properly that day.


What color? Always err on the side of caution. If in doubt, wear black and be as conservative as possible. You are attending the wake or funeral to pay your final respects to someone you held dear in life.


This is one of the few times that you want to blend in and not stand out.


Here are some clothing do’s and don’ts:




















  • Do wear dark colors. Black is always preferable, but other dark colors such as gray, brown and navy blue are acceptable.

  • Do wear dark shoes as well. Make sure they are conservative in appearance.

  • Do dress respectfully. No mini-skirts, blue jeans or frilly tops.

  • Men, do wear a tie and a sports jacket or suit .

  • Women, skirts to the knee or longer, pant suits and regular suits are fine too.

  • Don’t wear bright or loud colors (unless it was the deceased one’s request)

  • Don’t wear tight clothing or show cleavage. Again, show respect.

  • Don’t wear sneakers, sandals, open toe shoes, work boots, stiletto heels or flip-flops.

  • Don’t wear baseball caps, bandanas or other casual headgear.

  • Don’t wear shorts, beach or ski attire or work uniforms.

  • Women, no loud or excessive makeup. No flashy handbags. Blend in.


Attire for a visitation is more business casual and traditional black is best for the funeral.


Make sure to show respect and a modicum of decorum in all manner of dress and etiquette.

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