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What to wear at a funeral

(44 Posts)
HappyGran Sun 10-Jul-11 23:19:24

I'd appreciate your advice on this. If the weather is warm is it acceptable to not wear a jacket? Also, is it best to avoid wearing trousers? Thank you.

grannyactivist Sun 10-Jul-11 23:23:19

I think the only safe way to be sure is to contact someone close to the family and ask if there is a dress code. In the last few years I have been to a very formal funeral, a funeral for a child and a funeral for a teenager; the dress code was different in each case. (Don't forget the tissues though.) sad

Baggy Mon 11-Jul-11 06:24:58

If trousers are your usual smart wear, I don't think there should be a problem. The last funeral I was at (my aunt), at least half the people there were not wearing dark clothes. Since she loved 'everything woodland' I wore trousers and an alpaca jumper that has autumn leaves knitted into it in her honour. I took my coat off as the room where the service was held was too hot.

As grannyactivist says, though, your safest bet is probably to try and find out from someone close to the family if they have any preferences.

glassortwo Mon 11-Jul-11 06:36:56

I think these days things are more relaxed as far as dress for funerals, unless the family have stipulated otherwise. I personally think that dress is immaterial and it is the attending which the family appreciate more than the dress.
But as the others maybe best to ask.

Joan Mon 11-Jul-11 06:58:49

I've got a funeral dress: it is navy blue with silver buttons and a high collar. It seems to fit in with any funeral.

helshea Mon 11-Jul-11 07:19:18

I certainly don't think trousers are inappropriate for a funeral. They look smart while still being demure. I personally always wear dark clothes for funerals, but would not like to wear completely all black. However these days it is definitely better to get a rough idea first just in case the deceased has requested something specific. If this is not possible, dark colours are always the safest.

absentgrana Mon 11-Jul-11 10:43:07

I should have thought trousers are perfectly acceptable these days unless it is a very formal occasion. If it's warm, there is no point stifling yourself in a jacket, but I would go for a smart-looking, rather than casual top. If relevant, do remember that churches can be perishing cold even in mid-summer because of all those old, thick stone walls and the nature of the occasion also tends to make one feel shivery. As for colour, I always wear black when the person was very close and something fairly dark for others, unless there has been a special request by the family.

greenmossgiel Mon 11-Jul-11 11:52:05

It will depend on the person who's died I think, and how they perceived the world. Tomorrow I'll be attending the funeral of my daughter's friend. 'S' was a pagan, and loved all nature. The funeral will definitely be a celebration of her life. I will wear something light and cheerful. Like she was.

harrigran Mon 11-Jul-11 13:10:23

I nearly always wear trousers so see no reason not to wear them to a funeral. I wear smart black trousers with a white top and black jacket but in the winter I would add a cardigan or coat over the jacket. I often hear of funerals for younger people and they specify no black or to wear pink because she liked the colour.

sylvia2036 Mon 11-Jul-11 13:42:56

I wear trousers and if it's not family funeral a brown suit but never black. Recently, for my FIL's and SIL's funerals the family all wore bright colours as did everyone else at our request.

jackyann Mon 11-Jul-11 14:45:21

For someone I knew well, then I tend to know what they / their family are like; for people like work or charity colleagues I try to check with someone (without bothering close family members)
I too think trousers quite acceptable - having worked & been friendly for years with south Asians, I have adapted the "shalwar kameez" look for weddings & funerals. I have silk trousers, tunics & scarves in a variety of colours. Comfortable & beautiful.

My mother made her own clothes and loved bright colours, so we asked everyone at her funeral to dress in their bright clothes.
However, at my father's funeral, his grown-up GDs all said they would wear glamourous black clothes - and very stunning they looked.
A friend of mine went to a funeral where all the women were asked to wear red stockings - and given the money to buy them!!!!!

One of my sons' friends died in his early 20s - we were instructed to "come dressed as you would to spend time with him" so we turned up in surfing gear, mountain walking clothes, even full am-dram & circus costumes.

HildaW Mon 11-Jul-11 18:07:12

Jackyann...that last bit is so touching and just goes to show that we should treat funerals as individually as we treat people. What works for one family or family member etc etc. Which is why I am a firm believer in talking about such things before we 'go'. Having had to help arrange and also support others arrange several funerals in last couple of years the worse bit is when you have no clear idea what that person would want. You end up going over and over whats needed which sometimes can be worse than the event itself...especially if their is some family politics to cope with. I am hale and hearty (ish) but have written a letter to my girls telling them the basics...and not to put themselves through more than they can cope with. To be honest if it was legal to go on the compost heap I would.

jackyann Mon 11-Jul-11 18:38:12

Love the compost heap idea! One of the Weavers (the bloke who wasn't Pete Seeger) had his ashes put on his compost heap - I know that's the US but I'm sure that must be legal here.
I too have written a letter with some basic ideas.
My father said "a b* good sing, some b***fine grub, and a b* decent drink" - we honoured him!

expatmaggie Mon 11-Jul-11 19:27:12

In Germany we still wear black or grey for funerals; black and white and- wait for it- pearls. In some things the Germans are very traditional and I go along with it. But we aren't expected to wear a skirt or highheels.
My rule for funerals is to take a real handkerchief, it looks more elegant compared to sniffling into tissues.
I like the feeling, to arrive and see everyone in their best dark clothes. It fits a solemn occasion. I have heard that in the UK you go to celebrate a life, not to mourn a death, so perhaps colours are right for this occasion.

em Mon 11-Jul-11 19:40:37

Very much agree that funerals should be tailored to the individual. My mother loved knitting and knitted beautiful kilt socks for lots of family and friends. They were Aran cream, with cables and diamonds and she happily produced them whenever she was asked. At her funeral, we counted 15 guys in kilts and wearing Gran's socks! She didn't like black so I wore a smart navy suit with a silk blouse in her favourite shade of blue.

Littlelegs Mon 11-Jul-11 20:15:38

Unfortunately, I had to attend a funeral Friday last. The deceased was a good friend of mine and had died following a house fire.

She particularly requested that people wore bright clothes to her funeral,
even the vicar who took the serivice, wore a gold tie.

Unless requested, I would wear darker colours like brown or navy, black if it were a close relative.

FlicketyB Mon 11-Jul-11 21:44:25

I would say dress as you usually do, but chooese your more subdued and smarter clothes.

Though, having had to organise a number of family funerals in recent years what mattered to me was the presence of all the people who felt strongly enough about the deceased to make the effort to attend. I really couldn't careless what they wore

jackyann Mon 11-Jul-11 22:20:51

expatmaggie - totally agree about the hankies!
You can still buy real gents hankies here, but good women's hankies are hard to find.
When in Ireland a few years ago, I bought a box of 2 dozen linen hankies, and have dipped into it for small gifts - they have been much appreciated.

Sbagran Mon 11-Jul-11 23:13:16

Hello everyone - The secret is (as some of you have said) - let folks know before you go!
My dear Mum died nearly 2yrs ago but about 5 yrs ago we sat down and sorted out the complete details for her funeral. I had told her I had written down my wishes.
We laughed about it at the time because, as I said to Mum, my (grown-up) kids would have no idea of what hymns etc I would like and if they chose certain hymns I would be straight up out of my box to shoot the organist!
When Mum died, even though it was a beautiful peaceful death, we were still obviously devastated - but we had no problems with the funeral as it was all done and we knew it was exactly what she wanted.
I wore a navy blue suit - she hadn't specified a colour preference - but I believe she would have wanted a respectable rather than funeral-black as she was ready to go and had no fear.
As others have said - if in doubt check it out - as we were able to advise anyone who asked us and don't be afraid to ask!

expatmaggie Wed 13-Jul-11 20:17:45

I buy my hankies at charity shops! Sometimes a nicely packed box appears around Christmas time. It is becoming the fashion here in Germany for the deceased to want no funeral- indeed to want only the family quietly gathered at the grave side. In this case it is really irrelevant what anyone is wearing.

There is a saying here: 'it is better to give with warm hands' and MIL gave us all pieces of her lovely jewellery several years before she died at 98. When we gathered around the family grave in Munich, I noticed that we women were all wearing her rings and necklaces, without any of us mentioning it beforehand.
As to wearing black it is the easiest colour to expect teenagers to wear as they have a wardobe full ot it.

artygran Wed 20-Jul-11 19:37:04

We attended the funeral of our oldest friend this year. His wife did not specify a dress code - I think she assumed that, whatever people chose to wear, it would be appropriate and respectful without being too sober. And so it was. About half the ladies wore trousers and it was so hot that anyone who had brought a jacket left them in their cars. I always make sure that DH has a proper hankie when we go to a funeral - he usually needs it! I don't care what people wear when I go - I'll just be grateful that they've taken the trouble to turn up and see me off!

artygran Wed 20-Jul-11 19:42:22

We attended the funeral of our oldest friend this year. His wife did not specify a dress code - I think she assumed that, whatever people chose to wear, it would be appropriate and respectful without being too sober. And so it was. About half the ladies wore trousers and it was so hot that anyone who had brought a jacket, including me, left them in their cars. It didn't seem to cause offence to anyone. I always make sure that DH has a proper hankie when we go to a funeral - he usually needs it! I don't care what people wear when I go - I'll just be grateful that they've taken the trouble to turn up and see me off! They had better get the music right though or I'll come back and haunt them! (Could this be a subject for another thread? Or is it too gloomy?)

artygran Wed 20-Jul-11 19:43:16

Don't know what happened there! Doing a double take! Sorry!

Annobel Wed 20-Jul-11 20:42:05

Arty I want to have 'Always look on the bright side of life' at my funeral. Do you think that would be insensitive or would they see the 'bright' side?

artygran Wed 20-Jul-11 21:14:59

Not at all - excellent choice - I sing it to my GS, so at least he'd know the words! I want at least one piece to make people smile - maybe something by Jake Thackery, or Tom Lehrer's 'poisoning pigeons in the park' or 'masochism tango'!