What to wear and what not to wear to a Funeral

Dearest Readers,

Today I will take the plunge and talk about something we rarely talk about (by choice). Funerals are difficult for family members. After the Pretty Little Liars season premiere, I have been battling in my head whether it is appropriate to write about this. But then I thought, “When we are in doubt, we Google it…” so we do expect to find something related to the subject.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, funeral attire must show that you are grieving. In a country like Malta, some are still very traditional. Sometimes family members choose to wear just black for a long time. This is a ‘tradition’ but it is also a sign of respect and sorrow. Unfortunately I attended my fair share of funerals. Not that this is the most important thing but I do notice that while people are there to pay their respects and say final goodbyes, they are not always dressed appropriately for church and for a funeral.

I cannot stress this enough, the clothes you wear are not the most important thing, but wearing the right clothes for the situation is always important. Choosing your funeral attire should be simple; it shouldn’t be something you have to think about (not too much, at least). The focus is not you – you do not need to shine. Here are some pointers for those who are still unsure on what to wear…

Sleeve Length

A minimum cap sleeve is expected. If you are going sleeveless, a shawl or a bolero is expected. No off the shoulder pieces unless you are then, covering up – I would actually avoid them completely.

No – Too ‘Sexy’

Perfect

Colour

In Malta we tend to go for Black. Unless the family states that the deceased would have wanted people to dress as usual, i.e. colourful, it is always safe to assume that Black and White (and Grey) is what you should be going for. A white-shirt and a pencil skirt will always do the trick.

Too Much (for a funeral)

This + Bolero = Good

Cut & Fit

Nothing too sexy. You are going to a funeral, not to pick up guys at a bar. Office wear is usually smart enough unless you feel like slipping into a Little Black Dress – A midi dress would be a tad more appropriate than a little one. In MY opinion: no dip-hem skirts or crop tops. No cut out tops and dresses either. A tasteful peplum might be ok.  Your clothes should fit you well – a dress that is too short is not appropriate. Go for something smart, I am not sure about baggy trousers… You have to be your own judge, but don’t go to a funeral wearing leggings (AS PANTS…), or even worse, wet-look leggings.

Too Baggy

Too much Skin

Perfect

Also Perfect.

Pattern

Don’t go for anything fussy. I think plain is always better, especially for a funeral. If you’re wearing patterns, make sure it does not draw too much attention. I think certain lace tops, young people were wearing to one of the funerals were tacky. This is not the place to wear your Saturday night sexy stretchy body. I understand that they are young, and possibly own a neon coloured wardrobe, but a white shirt is more appropriate than ‘ħamalli’ lace.

No

Pretty, but might be a bit much for a funeral…

This will work.

Shoes

Flats are ok, but I would prefer kitten heels (No, I don’t think they are hideous…) or a mid-heel. You want to look smart but not too sexy, so stilettos might be pushing it if you are not able to walk in them. Wedges are ok if they are not massive. I would go for black shoes if possible, something elegant, something you can walk in – again, be your own judge (this post is just a few tips!).

Perfect.

Good.

Good too.

Too Flashy!

Too much

Make up

Keep it simple. Foundation and a nude lipstick. Maybe add a little bit of blusher not to look completely washed out. If you think you’re going to cry (just being realistic here…), don’t overdo it with eye make up. Otherwise stick to waterproof. I went for just a little bit of mascara and a soft coloured eyeliner on the bottom lash line. In my opinion, this is not the place for false lashes. You do not want to look overdone. You do not want to look like you were more into your looks than to mourn. Don’t go all dolled up, it doesn’t reflect positively on you if you look like you spent an hour doing your make up. Go for a natural or a ‘no make-up’ bare look.

Sunglasses

Finally, if you are going for sunglasses, don’t go for anything massive, fancy or with lots of embellishments. Something simple that  fulfills its purpose and that’s it.

Too Conspicuous!

Good Choice

Men

Men always have it easier. Just wear your suit, a grey or black one; navy blue can be ok too. A clean white shirt and a black tie. If you do not have a black tie, go for some other subtle colour. Nothing too fancy, you can keep your pink tie for some other occasion. Do not put too much gel in your hair either, it’s not that good for you anwyay.

Image source for all of the above: ASOS.com

Onto one last example:

I don’t know if you watch Pretty Little Liars, but in the first episode this season, aired last week, all the “liars” attended a funeral. This is what they wore:

Pretty Little Liars at Walden’s Funeral (Hanna, Emily, Spencer, Aria)

With Jenna in the Background… (Emily, Spencer, Aria, Hanna, Jenna)

With Mona… (Emily, Spencer, Aria, Hanna, Mona)

Hanna: While I do like her dress, this was too sexy for a funeral. As soon as I saw it, I could not stop thinking about how inappropriate it was. Don’t get me wrong, I love it… just not for a funeral.

Emily: While introducing a little bit of colour, this dress was a very good choice for Emily. Points for Emily!

Spencer: As usual, Spencer is perfect. Her outfit was smart and there wasn’t too much skin showing. Great choice indeed.

Aria: I felt that her outfit was a bit too much. You do not need to keep your style at a funeral (it’s irrelevant!). Women usually wear the first smart black dress they find in their closets. Maybe the dress was ok (for her, given her style), even though it had a red belt/waistline, but I would have stopped there. The burgundy shoes were (pretty but) unnecessary.

Jenna: I think the lace was overdone here. Were those stockings? Really? (Don’t get me wrong, I DO like them, I just think a funeral is not the place for them.

Mona: She looked great. A very pretty dress, perfect cut, not too much cleavage – it worked out great for her build.

Finally, while I did put a lot of thought into this, you shouldn’t worry too much about it as long as you look smart and keep it simple. If you are attending a funeral, your main focus should be the family, not what you’ll be wearing. As long as it is something respectful and tasteful, the point of going is you being supportive. Be in the best attire possible, not for yourself or for a show, but to pay your respects.

I really hope I did not offend anyone with this post. I am only trying to be helpful here. The numbers show me that unfortunately many of you find this blog post because you just lost someone. My deepest sympathies go to all of you who have just lost a loved one. ❤

Love,

M.

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67 comments on “What to wear and what not to wear to a Funeral

  1. Louisa says:

    That model is wearing the same one as Spencer! 😀

  2. I am so sorry that you had to attend two funerals in such a short time. Funerals are a touchy subject and this was very well written. I really appreciate the photos you included which make it a pretty foolproof article. I completely agree with all of your choices.

    • marijadebono says:

      Thanks Nikki. Yes it was though but it is always tougher on the immediate families.

      Thanks for your encouragement, even on Facebook! 🙂 I needed that last push!

  3. I agree about your post here. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Amria says:

    Loved the premire 😀 they all look so beautiful! Hannah’s derss at the funeral I loved, even if it doesn’t seem so “funeralish” to me haha 😀 Wich is your favourite character, M?

    • marijadebono says:

      I loved the premiere too and I loved her dress, don’t get me wrong! i just thought it wasn’t exactly funeral-friendly! That’s a hard question…. I love Spencer… ❤ I love how logical she is, how intelligent she is and the way she dressed. But I love Aria too, and the other girls too 😛

  5. Mammu says:

    You did well writing this post, I’m, sure it will be useful for many people! Fortunately I have only been to a funeral once in my life when I was 10 and hopefully I won’t have any coming soon!

  6. lycly says:

    Sadly, this is something that is all too present in life. I love your tips on how to look appropriate but still stylish. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Ok even though I hate talking about furneral, I think you’ve given out some useful tips – I mean you can look good and fashionable when attending one but not going overboard like wanting to look hot as I’ve seen in some movies 🙂
    Nice tips.

  8. Ok even though I hate talking about funeral, I think you’ve given out some useful tips – I mean you can look good and fashionable when attending one but not going overboard like wanting to look hot as I’ve seen in some movies 🙂
    Nice tips.

  9. Shin says:

    Wow, I have never seen a post on this topic. Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Anthea Turner says:

    Good one Marija … although I think that a white smart shirt and a black skirt or trousers would be appropriate as well. Especially for younger people and in summer.

    Next: Weddings etiquette 😉

    • marijadebono says:

      Yes definitely. A white/grey shirt would still look very neat!

      And yes! The next one will be wedding related, as it was also requested by someone else too! 😀

  11. Thank you for writing about this, I am sure it is more common than related to particular country. I would only say that the example for too baggy imho is also ok esp. if it is the way that person dresses usually. You do not have to change your personal style completely to be dressed appropriatelly to funerals.

    • marijadebono says:

      Ok, I think you are righ and I can maybe agree with you a little bit. However I still think that looking smart is in some cases a pretty conventional thing, standard. But yes, some people can make ‘baggy’ look smart as well 🙂 Thank you for your comment!

  12. Strollay says:

    I like the post thanks for sharing
    http://www.strollay.com

  13. Strollay says:

    Reblogged this on strollaycart and commented:
    Wear or Wear not

  14. Anonymous says:

    Man always have it easier? You have obviously never been man. Women would have it easier too if they just wore what men wear.

  15. Nat Paulin says:

    My name is natalie, im attening a funeral but ive got nothing 2 wear xcept really gothic clothing n other then dat, just colored happy tops. Plz help me somebody.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thanks this was very helpful for my fathers funeral. Coming from the states things are so different. Kate

  17. Anonymous says:

    How about dressing as you would for a job interview. (I mean in an office not a cocktail lounge. ) This way you can be your stylish self and show respect at the same time. Help.

  18. Shelly says:

    Thank you for posting this.

  19. Aria says:

    I was wondering what your thoughts were on the previous PLL funeral dresses such as the ones worn by the girls in the pilot episode

  20. Anonymous says:

    Jewellery? L

  21. I got told you don’t wear long dresses to a funeral why not this is the first time I have ever hear this?

  22. […] All Things Lady: What to wear and what not to wear at a funeral […]

  23. Dawn says:

    I love this. Thank you for your advice. Very helpful.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Thank you – this is very helpful. I have what I think is an appropriate outfit, but your article gives me pause. I choose clothing that suits my age, and while I like to be stylish, I tend to be on the classic side. So…..for the memorial service of my husband’s grandmother: black dress slacks and an ivory sleeveless lace peplum. The lace is over a lining of the same color, so not see-through, and it isn’t low-cut. I don’t know the term for the cut of the neckline, but you cannot see skin below the base of my neck. Also, when I say sleeveless, it’s not strappy; there just aren’t sleeves. I wear the outfit to work and get compliments. And the top isn’t stretchy or overly tight. Do you think this is acceptable? Thanks!

  25. jjulliee says:

    Thank you – this is very helpful. I have what I think is an appropriate outfit, but your article gives me pause. I choose clothing that suits my age, and while I like to be stylish, I tend to be on the classic side. So…..for the memorial service of my husband’s grandmother: black dress slacks and an ivory sleeveless lace peplum. The lace is over a lining of the same color, so not see-through, and it isn’t low-cut. I don’t know the term for the cut of the neckline, but you cannot see skin below the base of my neck. Also, when I say sleeveless, it’s not strappy; there just aren’t sleeves. I wear the outfit to work and get compliments. And the top isn’t stretchy or overly tight. Do you think this is acceptable? Thanks!

  26. Clare says:

    Thanks for writing this article, I’m going to a funeral in the next couple of weeks and googled ‘what do I wear’ – there is definitely an audience and need for this post. I found it really helpful. Thanks.

  27. Laura says:

    You say that Emily’s dress in pretty little liars is a good choice, but did you notice that its backless.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Do we really have to wear black these days

    • In Malta, unless stated otherwise by the family, yes. Malta is very traditional in this manner. I guess abroad it is more common for people to wear colours, which is something that is slowly being introduced here in Malta, especially when the deceased is of a young age.

  29. GBOLAHAN says:

    9ice post

  30. stanford chauke says:

    people lost they r culture but when coming to lobola they don’t compromise they will tell u that is our culture.

  31. Beth says:

    Where can I find the black flowly lace dress with sleeves?! I cannot find it anywhere:(

  32. Sam says:

    Thank you for posting this. My grandmother passed away on 12/8 and while I’m fairly confident in what to wear, I wasn’t 100% in makeup. It’s nice someone was brave/confident enough to write such a sensitive subject.

  33. Karen says:

    What alias of rubbish

  34. Anonymous says:

    nice dresses

  35. […] What to wear and what not to wear to … – 17-6-2013  · … I have been battling in my head whether it is appropriate … to wear and what not to wear to a Funeral … What to wear and what not to wear … […]

  36. Jessica Callahan says:

    I went to a funeral service and some of the relatives showed up in regular cloths. I was very very offended . White trash.

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