Funeral Attire: Traditional Versus Modern

It is 2022 and the traditions surrounding the funeral industry are slowly being modernised with families often opting to reinterpret the ‘rules’ to suit their own requirements. While religious services are still very much stepped in tradition, civil services officiated by a celebrant or humanist minister are becoming increasingly modern. One element that is subject to modernisation is funeral attire, in this article we will look at traditional funeral clothing versus modern style, and why people are opting for their own ideas. 

Traditional Funeral Clothing 

In England it is traditional to wear black to a funeral. The wearing of black clothing dates back to the Roman era when families in mourning would wear a black or dark-coloured toga known as a toga pulla. Black is still the most commonly worn colour for a funeral however, navy and dark grey are equally acceptable. 

For men a black suit is traditional clothing, this could be a morning suit or a regular formal jacket, trousers, shirt, and tie. Any dark coloured suit usually with a white shirt is acceptable. Whether or not to wear a tie is more difficult to answer, and for a very formal, traditional funeral it is likely to be required. For less formal but still traditional services it may be optional however, as a tie is easy to remove it is probably best to err on the side of caution and wear one if you are unsure. 

Women have more flexibility when it comes to funeral attire. Smart, darkly coloured clothing is usually acceptable. A lady’s suit, smart trousers or skirt and blouse, or a dress are the usual choices. For women choosing a suitable, smart, style of clothing is essential, knee length skirts and shoulders covered are essential for traditional funerals – darkly coloured smart business clothing would be a good choice. 

Modern Funeral Clothing

At most funerals held in the UK in 2022 traditional funeral clothing is worn. However, with an increase in celebration of life services there has started to be an increase in funerals where black is shunned. Some families are opting to celebrate the passions and life of the deceased by inviting mourners to wear clothing that is reflective of the person that has died. 

Some families ask mourners to wear brightly coloured clothing or attire in the deceased favourite colour. Bright colours are reflective of a celebration, and instead of being sad at the person’s death, it is a way to encourage funeral attendees to celebrate the person’s accomplishments and the life that they lived. A celebrant such as Steve can help you to plan a celebration of life service that perfectly reflects the personality of the deceased, you can find out more about Steve and his approach to funeral planning here

Another modern trend in funeral attire is to ask people to dress as per the person that has died or their passion. For example, a funeral for a farmer may ask mourners to wear wellies, football shirts for the deceased favourite team may be part of the dress code, or 1960’s style fancy dress may be the clothing of choice for someone that was passionate about 60’s music! Clothing, music, poetry, and readings can all be customised to truly be reflective of the personality of the deceased when a celebration of life is chosen. Speak to Steve if you’d like some help to plan this style of funeral for your loved one. 

What Should You Wear To a Funeral 

So, you may be wondering what you should wear to a funeral! It would be our advice that unless you are told otherwise you should wear traditional funeral attire. While modern dress is becoming increasingly popular, tradition reigns strong, and those wishing for alternative funeral attire usually make this clear to guests before the event. 

If you are planning a funeral and would like people to follow a specific dress code do make that clear to anyone that may be attending, as otherwise you will likely find mourners in traditional darker colours. Funerals are about the person that has died, but for the living, it is important not to stand out. If specific funeral attire is requested do participate as best as you can, otherwise in general dark colours of business appropriate clothing is the ideal funeral attire. 

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