What to Wear to a Funeral And What Best To Avoid in 2024

Lifestyle

It can often feel somewhat inappropriate to ask others what to wear to a funeral. It’s not a fashion show, after all. However, for those attending, it’s essential to show respect—and part of doing so requires being dressed in suitable clothing.

Funeral attire for men may be seen as a touchy subject, but it shouldn’t be. It’s totally normal to want to be correctly dressed for the occasion, and knowing exactly what that looks like can be difficult to figure out. To help with this sartorial conundrum, I’ve pulled together the key pieces every guy should consider. Keep reading for a handy guide on what men wear to a funeral.

Key Takeaway

If you’ve found yourself googling ‘what should men wear to a funeral,’ you’re not alone. I have asked myself the same question many times before. Do you have to wear black? Must I wear a suit and tie? Truth is, much of this depends on the person who has passed and the wishes of the family.

But there are a number of essentials that will never let you down. In this guide, I’ll share with you these must-have pieces, plus highlight the garments to avoid and other important things to consider.

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Vanni Official Bespoke Suit
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Option 1: Black Suit

man posing wearing a dark suit and button up shirt
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If I were to only include one item of clothing on this list of funeral attire for men, it would undoubtedly be the black suit. Slick, smart, and super versatile, it hits the sweet spot between stylish and respectable. Other types of suits (such as charcoal and dark navy) are worthy alternatives. However, black should always be your first choice.

Not only ideal for funerals, the men’s suit is great for dinner parties, job interviews, and the nine-to-five. For instance, a slim-fit suit from Hawes & Curtis will ensure you cut an elegant figure—especially when you team it with a crisp white shirt, black tie, and black shoes. If you want to go a little more relaxed, you could layer it with a fine knit sweater or roll neck (which will also help keep you warm in the winter months). Whatever you choose, don’t forget to finish your look with a luxury timepiece.

Option 2: White Shirt

man wearing an overcoat and button up shirt
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Ask me to write down a list of all the occasions the white shirt isn’t suitable for, and you’d probably be staring at a blank sheet of paper. From important meetings to family weddings and funerals (of course), the timeless staple is a must-have for pretty much every conceivable life event.

Just like a great pair of shoes or freshly-cut trim, the white dress shirt has the impressive knack for pulling everything together. The fine twill version from Hawes & Curtis will pair perfectly with some black slacks and smart shoes. A plain black tie is optional, but don’t forget to make sure your shirt is pressed. I recommend opting for a single cuff, as double cuff styles are better suited to weddings and fancier occasions.

Option 3: Dark Knitwear

man standing in a kitchen, cutting and eating an apple
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Paying your respects is paramount, but don’t forget to look after yourself. Investing in some dark knitwear gives you an excellent layering option when the weather isn’t being so kind. A fine knit is more appropriate than a chunky cable, while the color should ideally be black or dark gray. Try to avoid patterns or heavy branding, and pay attention to the fit (it should be cut close to your body, not overly loose). Half zips, V-necks, and turtlenecks will do the trick, but my go-to is the classic crew.

Asket has a bunch of must-have styles, including a versatile black sweater. It’s made from a mid-weight merino wool that’s breathable enough for warm days yet perfect for wearing over a button-down shirt when it’s cold. When it comes to the weekend or heading to the office, it’ll look just as good with suits, khakis, and jeans.

Option 4: Tailored Pants

man sitting down by a window reading a book
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Tailored pants are an essential addition to any guy’s wardrobe. If you don’t already own a pair, now’s the time to make your move. They come in particularly handy when asking yourself what do men wear to a funeral. You can partner them with a formal shirt and shoes or dress things down slightly with a knitted sweater.

It can be a tricky task to find the perfect pair, but I find Reiss never lets you down. Slightly tapered for a flattering fit, their black chino trousers will be your go-to for years to come. I particularly like the cotton-elastane blend—it really ups the ante in the comfort department.

Option 5: Overcoat

man modeling an overcoat and beanie
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One thing we can’t control in life is the weather. But if we could, I bet we’d all wish for plenty of sunshine on the day of a funeral. Unfortunately, we’re sometimes faced with the kind of wind and rain that matches the downcast mood. When such elements arrive, you’ll want to have a stylish overcoat to hand.

Maison Margiela’s overcoat is my top pick. It’s made from a warm wool-blend fabric and comes in a dark navy that almost looks black (so it’s suitable for the day of the funeral and beyond). You could wear it over a black suit, or perhaps a turtleneck jumper. Leave it unfastened if it’s not too chilly, but don’t be afraid to button that baby up when the temperature drops.

Option 6: Black Shoes

close up of tailored pants and black shoes
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As the saying goes, you can tell a lot about a man from his shoes. Turn up to a funeral in a pair of beat-up brogues or sneakers, and you may as well have taken a phone call during the readings. Okay, not quite, but it really is important to be respectful with your footwear choices.

I find the best option is some black cap-toe Oxfords (polished to perfection, of course). They help finish off your look with a touch of elegance, whether you opt for a suit or shirt and tie. Myrqvist have a great pair—made from full grain leather with Goodyear-welted soles, they’re as durable as they are stylish.

hespokestyle Dress Up for the occasion
hespokestyle / instagram

Funeral Attire For Men: What Not to Wear

1. Sneakers 

I get it, your new sneakers are awesome, and you can’t wait to show them off. But hold your horses partner; there’s a time and place for everything. A funeral is not exactly the ideal location to flaunt your fancy footwear. So unless the deceased was a certified sneakerhead, keep it classy and stick to formal shoes.

If dress shoes don’t quite fit your budget, you could try some low-profile black sneakers. I won’t tell you if you don’t… My favorite is the Low 1 from Oliver Cabell. Squint and you’d think they were a pair of leather Oxfords, but they’re actually an excellent smart-casual option that you can dress up or down. For off-duty days you can team them with skinny jeans and a fine knit jumper.

RELATED: Read our Oliver Cabell Review here. 

2. T-shirts

Funerals are a somber occasion, and this is often represented through the clothing choices of guests. To show some sensitivity to those who have lost their loved ones, keep your garments simple, smart, and subdued. This means T-shirts are pretty much out of the question, especially those with a baggy fit and bold graphics.

A plain black tee could definitely be suitable, but make sure it’s something fitted like a silk-cotton tee from Luca Faloni. To smarten things up further, try teaming it with a tailored black suit and Derby shoes. When you’re not putting together funeral attire for men, you can use it as a great base layer for everyday outfits.

3. Jeans 

Unless you’re asked to do otherwise, you should always dress smartly when attending a funeral. For this reason, jeans are generally considered an unsuitable bottom-half option. You may get away with a dark, slim-fitting pair, but some formal slacks are the most appropriate choice. Baggy, ripped, or embellished denim is a big red flag.

To avoid sticking out like a sore thumb (and upsetting your aggy aunt), look no further than black denim jeans from Adriano Goldschmied. Fuss-free in a tapered fit, they could almost pass for slacks. Once you’ve paid your respects, you can wear them at the weekend with everything from flannel shirts to hoodies and long-sleeved tees.

4. Flip flops

Apart from the distracting and rather annoying slapping noise they’ll make as you arrive, nobody wants to see your bare feet at a funeral. Flip flops are probably one of the worst footwear choices you could make; second only to rollerblades (they would be pretty terrible too). Your shoes should be smart, so unless your funeral is on a beach, keep it that way.

5. Scruffy Items 

There are certain times in life when being a tad scruffy is acceptable. Chilling at home or heading to the gym, for example. Heck, some high-designer fashion could even be described as a little rough around the edges. Not funerals, though. They require a bit more effort on your part.

It’s important your clothes are clean, pressed, and free of any pulls or rips. Tuck in shirts, shine your shoes, and make sure your tie is the correct length (that means the tip should hit right on top of your belt buckle or waistband).

6. Dress Appropriate

Without sounding like a nagging mother, I must tell you once more: when it comes to figuring out what to wear to a funeral, it’s important to be respectful. What does this look like? Simple, timeless pieces that run no risk of being deemed inappropriate. Think about your grandparents. If they would approve, you’re probably on the right track.

This doesn’t mean you have to completely drain your outfit of any personality. However, you should remember that you’re there to mourn and celebrate the life of someone who has passed, not win the award for best dressed. Avoid revealing clothing, big logos, and anything that screams ‘attention.’ Your color palette should be monochrome unless you’re asked to dress brightly.

Long Coat and Roll Neck
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Things to Consider Before Deciding What to Wear to a Funeral

Time of Year 

As with any outfit choice, the time of year can play a major role in the garments you wear. Summer funerals will call for lighter fabrics and less layers, whereas the winter months may require additional accessories such as scarves and gloves. Dress appropriately for the weather, but always remain respectable.

The Family 

There may be a general understanding of what to wear to a funeral, but every ceremony is different. While some families may ask guests to show their respects by wearing black, others could request you disregard the conventional etiquette and wear something colorful. Before choosing your outfit, make sure you’re aware of the rules that have been set. After all, the wishes of the deceased’s family are what’s most important.

What to Avoid 

While the rules on what to wear to a funeral can be fairly flexible, there are certain things you should avoid if you wish to be suitably dressed. Those garments that should be crossed off your potential outfit list include jeans, graphic T-shirts, baseball caps, flip-flops, and sports tops.

FAQ

    • There are no hard and fast rules about what to wear to a funeral. However, in order to show some respect through clothing choices, there is an unwritten rule that you should always dress smart. A black suit is generally the safest option, with a type of dress shirt, black tie, and shoes.

      • Technically speaking, there are no items of clothing that are strictly forbidden from a funeral. But this doesn’t mean you should just wear what you want. You may be asked to dress in a certain way; otherwise, keep your outfit as formal as possible. This means unless your jeans are dark and fitted, opt for a pair of slacks instead.

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