Dress appropriately for funerals, visitations

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 05:19 PM

I just had a luncheon meeting canceled. My friend needs to attend her cousin’s funeral. As an only child this particular cousin was like a sister to her. I feel for her loss.

It made me think about our end of life events and how we deal with them.

Recently, when I attended a visitation and funeral for a dear friend, and I became concerned about the casual dress of the crowd.

I understand that some have limited incomes and budgets. With this particular group, though, it was hard for me to tell about their budgets or incomes, looking at the size of their giant gas guzzling trucks parked outside.

I do believe most could at least tuck their shirt tails into their blue jeans.

As I remember my deceased friend, he was a nicely dressed young man. Appropriate for the situation. He knew when to be casual and when to wear a suit.

I wonder what these people in line at the visitation are thinking is appropriate? We have Goodwill and Salvation Army where we live. Last time I checked you could outfit yourself nicely, male or female, on a limited budget with just a little effort.

On a quick visit to any one of these resale shops, you could pick up an outfit and keep it in your closet for visitations, funerals or other events that require more than casual dress.

Funeral etiquette, like everything else, has relaxed over the years. It use to be all wore the most drab, black outfits available.

Now, different colors appear in the crowd. Not the bright neon ones but variations of navy, brown, charcoals and green.

 It’s best to check with the funeral home or the family to see if they have specific dress request.

Themed funeral events have also grown in popularity over the past years.

I have never witnessed a themed funeral when the family requested, for example, beach attire at an Oceanside setting. I’m sure some do. Did you see the end scenes in George Clooney’s movie "The Descendants"?

However, after you have checked with the funeral home or the family of the deceased and there isn’t a specific dress request, your attire should reflect respect for the deceased and their family.

When in doubt, clothes need to be on the conservative side. Leave the low cut, flashy outfits at home.

At most funerals I’ve attended, the men wear conservative suits or dark, solid-colored sport coats. Women are in tailored suits or dresses.

Relaxed funeral etiquette on dress codes doesn’t mean sloppy.


• Monroe, NC resident, Jeanne Howell teaches etiquette to business and private groups. She may be reached at jeannehowell20@gmail.com or 704-221-1905.