What to Wear to a Funeral, Visitation or Celebration of Life Service

The discussion on what to wear happens pretty frequently when people get together for an event. It’s human nature to be concerned about fitting in and looking appropriate for the situation you’re walking into. It’s for this reason that you can find hundreds of articles, blogs, etiquette columns and Pinterest pins about what to wear to a funeral.

The level of sensitivity that people have for funeral services is far greater than most gatherings because there is a real concern of offending a family who is already going through the worst time in their lives. Before you stress yourself out about planning your funeral outfit, here are several tips on what to wear to a funeral, visitation or celebration of life service.

What to Wear to a Funeral

The first consideration when planning an outfit for a funeral is the dress code of the location of the funeral. Whether it’s a place of worship or a country club, always check with the venue to make sure you are adhering to their rules. The next most important rule is to dress conservatively. This term can mean different things to different people. In general, it means sticking to solid, muted colors, higher necklines and appropriate shoes. Funeral services can sometimes include multiple stops, including a graveside service. What you’re wearing should easily transition from inside to outside on uneven terrain.

One of the biggest misconceptions about dressing for a funeral is that you are required to wear black. As time moves forward, this has become less and less necessary. While black is always a great go-to if you’re unsure about what you’re wearing, colors like gray and navy are also appropriate. Your most important goal is to avoid wearing anything that will distract attention away from the loved one who has passed away.

What to Wear to a Visitation

Visitations, or calling hours, are generally more casual than funeral services. They often occur after the regular work day, so it’s completely appropriate to attend a visitation in your usual business or business casual clothes. It’s still important to show respect to the grieving family, so avoid wearing inappropriate shoes like flip-flops and athletic shoes or very casual clothes like shorts and jeans.

What to Wear to a Celebration of Life Service

A celebration of life service can be very different from a funeral service. The tone is often more upbeat and less structured, which leaves a lot of possibilities for clothing. Usually, the loved one’s family will set the tone for the event. They may ask everyone to wear the colors of the loved one’s favorite sports team or to wear tropical prints for someone who loved the beach. Whatever their request is, remember to oblige conservatively to make sure that the attention is still on the family and loved one.

If you are still uncertain about what to wear, don’t hesitate to reach out to the funeral home that is hosting the services and ask what would be appropriate. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and funeral directors want to help ensure the best possible experience for everyone during a difficult time. Do you have any rules for attire when you attend funerals or visitations? Leave your best advice in the comments.

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