How to Dress Appropriately for a Funeral

what to wear to a funeral

When mourning the loss of a loved one, your attire is probably the last thing on your mind. If you were close with the deceased, few would fault you for wearing just about anything you want. If you’re merely an acquaintance of the deceased, however, you should choose your clothes carefully out of respect for the surviving friends and family members. For help understanding what to wear to a funeral, we spoke with Tony Spear of Este’s Men’s Clothing in Portland, OR.

The Basics

A funeral is not a time to show off your impeccable sense of style. “The fewer people you offend with your dress, the better off you are,” says Tony Spear. “Just put your best foot forward and keep it simple.” While few of the other mourners are going to register your choice of attire, you must keep in mind that your appearance denotes a level of respect. Therefore, you must appear crisp and unassuming, and gravitate toward the darker garments in your wardrobe.

Black Suit

When watching funeral scenes on TV or in movies, you might have noticed that all the men wear black suits. If you’ve actually been to a funeral, however, you know that not everyone wears black. Black is a widely acknowledged color of mourning, so it’s generally safe to wear a black suit at a funeral. That said, you don’t need to go out and purchase a black suit specifically for an upcoming funeral. In fact, Tony Spear is hesitant to wear a black suit himself. “Even though people mourn in black, I think I’d go with the navy,” he says.

Navy Suit

Men’s fashion is ever changing, but navy suits are definitely popular at the moment. A nice navy suit is respectful and formal (but not too formal), making it a fine choice for a funeral. “Sincere navy blue is more approachable,” says Spear. “You don’t come off as harsh.” A navy suit is important to have in your closet not just for funerals, but for all sorts of other occasions. You’ll find that you can wear a navy suit to weddings, job interviews, and virtually any other formal occasion.

Related: The Unspoken Suit Rules You Need to Know


You’ll want to bring the same level of respect to your accessories. You should forgo frivolous accessories, such as cufflinks, a tie clip, or a colorful tie. “I wouldn’t wear something real colorful,” says Spear. “You’re not trying to draw attention to yourself, so don’t wear the power red.” You should probably leave the pocket square at home, too — or at least tuck it into your pocket where it’s invisible, then take it out when you or another attendee gets emotional. A white dress shirt, a black tie, a black belt, and simple polished dress shoes should suffice for a funeral.

Deciding what to wear to a funeral shouldn’t be too difficult. Still, it’s worth some thought to ensure that you don’t offend anyone. As long as you look clean, crisp, presentable, and stay away from bright colors, you should avoid negative attention as you pay your respects.

Este’s Men’s Clothing has been selling men’s suits in Portland, OR since 1952. Visit their website to view their offerings.