How to dress for a funeral

29 September 2015 ( 17 October 2016 )

Do you have to wear black? What about a tie? Dressing for a funeral is all about respect, so it's one dress code you want to get right.



Unless there are family wishes to the contrary, no guidelines on the funeral notice or invitation, for instance, then you might ask a family member about their wishes. They would probably appreciate the gesture as a sign of respect for both them and the deceased. 

Arriving in inappropriate dress can result in raised eyebrows, even cause offence, however unwittingly.

If there are no instructions from the family, then it’s advisable to follow traditional lines of attire.

How to behave around the bereaved

Traditional attire for a funeral

  • Black suit
  • White shirt 
  • Slim black tie
  • Black (polished) shoes. 

It’s a classic, timeless look that looks good and shows respect. You cannot go wrong. A navy or dark grey suit is also perfectly acceptable.

If you wear a black shirt, then a dark red, black or dark blue tie is better than a white tie. With a black shirt, you might even go tie-less.

Consider popping a clean white handkerchief into a pocket, just in case it's needed to dry the tears of someone next to you. 

Comforting a bereaved grandchild

Hat and coat

You might want to wear a hat. A fedora would look stylish but if you’re unused to wearing a hat then do have a proper fitting. Looking in a mirror wearing a casually angled ‘titfer’, we all think we look like Frank Sinatra. The harsh truth is, we don’t.

Think about rainwear. If the weather is going to be unfavourable, consider what you’ll be wearing outside. The most stylish black suit ensemble can look adrift accompanied by a NorthFace jacket. Take a raincoat or overcoat instead, and a black umbrella.

For more information about bereavement, visit our bereavement section for helpful guides and articles

Try 12 issues of Saga Magazine for just £12

The new look Saga Magazine is available now for just £12 for 12 issues...


Next article: Find out about the widow's pension and bereavement allowance >>>

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.