Funerals are a reflective time when the friends and relatives of the deceased pay their last respects. However, the customs and contexts for this period differ in several religions and belief systems. If you’ll attend a funeral in the near future and find yourself struggling with what to wear, this piece is for you.
What to Wear to a Funeral
Usually, the entire community, friends, and family members of the deceased participate in the funeral. This progresses from prayers to rituals and rites, and everyone is usually expected to dress in a particular theme.
While there are no stringent guidelines, funeral attires may be conservative and subtle. So, you should avoid bright or patterned colours that may attract attention. However, it’s important to note that what’s acceptable in one background may not work in other settings.
Expectations vary from reality; therefore, the funeral setting might dictate the tone of your dress. For example, Western traditional and formal funerals often see suits for men and Victorian styles for women.
High-profile funerals consider the event a celebration of life. So, you can wear darker colours. But, for a cultural and religious funeral, subdued attire will work as well.
It’s good to come with a coat or an extra piece of clothing, depending on the season. You might also want to keep some tissues in your pocket for easy access.
Keep the accessories minimal, but they’re negligible. If you don’t want to feel watched or prefer to hide your grief, go with a pair of glasses.
Some Religious Expectations
On rare occasions, the deceased’s family selects a theme or colour. That makes looking for what to wear easier.
When mourning, black is a general colour because it represents the feeling. Therefore, it’s not unusual to wear black to a funeral, though the specific dress code often varies from one religious tradition to another.
Here’s a breakdown of the funerary customs of some major religions:
- Christians: Dark-coloured suits or dresses. Women may wear hats but they’re not essential.
- Muslims: Women often don’t attend funerals, but they’re expected to cover up to the neck when they do. Men can wear collared shirts with trousers, and they can don a hat as well.
- Hindu: White is the official colour of mourning in Hinduism.
- Jewish: Black and other dark colours are accepted. Ties and yarmulkes are common. Clothes should generally be conservative in Jewish funerals.
Buddhism: The family wears white while friends wear dark colours. Simple clothes with no jewellery are encouraged. Avoid any obvious signs of wealth like watches.
When attending a funeral, you should generally blend in. However, it’s acceptable to be modest. As a rule of thumb, black is the main go-to colour for most funerals, though Hindus break this tradition with white. Also, make sure you’re dressed conservatively.
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