Most guys know that funeral attire should be somber and respectful.
But from there things get a lot harder to figure out.
With so many choices and options available, it can be difficult to know what exactly constitutes the best funeral attire for men.
To help you understand what to wear to a funeral or memorial service, in this post I’ll break down some general guidelines to keep in mind, and show you some specific examples that will help you dress respectfully and appropriately.
What should men wear to a funeral?
Breaking Down the Best Mens Funeral Attire
Proper Funeral Attire for Men
When it comes to funeral attire, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
First and foremost, you want to be respectful of the occasion. This means avoiding anything that is too casual or flashy. Stick to classic, simple clothing in dark colors.
Black clothing is always a safe bet, but dark gray or navy blue can also be appropriate.
Another important thing to keep in mind is comfort. A funeral can be a long day, so you want to make sure you are wearing clothes that won’t make you too hot or uncomfortable.
Avoid anything that is constricting or binding. It’s also a good idea to make sure you wear comfortable dress shoes, because you might be on your feet for a long time.
(For a traditional funeral service black dress shoes are best. But if you’re wearing a gray or navy suit, you don’t necessarily need black shoes – in that case, dark brown shoes can suffice.)
Finally, you want to make sure your clothing communicates the proper level of solemnity and respect.
For the most part this means avoiding anything that’s too informal, like bright colors, jeans or t-shirts. Instead, opt for dressier clothing like dress pants and a button-down shirt.
Although some exceptions can be made for a less formal celebration of life, or when the deceased’s family members specifically opt for a casual funeral.
You can find more details about casual funerals below, but first let’s look at the best traditional funeral attire.
Black Suit, White Dress Shirt, Black Tie
Pairing a black suit with a white shirt and black tie is the most classic funeral look, and for good reason.
This kind of formal attire is timeless, solemn and respectful, but can also be quite stylish if your suit fits well and your shirt and tie are of decent quality.
It’s also the best choice because it’s so versatile:
It’s appropriate attire for a religious funeral in a place of worship, but works just as well in a nondenominational funeral home.
This should be your go-to funeral outfit, full stop.
Black Suit, White Dress Shirt, No Tie
A slightly more casual option is to wear the black suit and white shirt, but skip the tie.
This can be a good option if the funeral is taking place during a hot time of year (or a particularly warm climate), when a tie can be too cumbersome.
This look also works well if you don’t own a black suit jacket, and need to substitute a dark suit in another color, like a dark blue or dark grey suit.
But just remember that if you’re not wearing a tie, you should really make sure that you’re wearing a full suit, which means your suit jacket and pants are a perfect match.
A navy blazer with khaki pants may be a great look for a first date, but it’s not quite solemn enough for formal events like a funeral.
Black Suit, Black Shirt, Black Tie
Another popular option is to go for the all-black look, when you wear just one solid color for your shirt, tie and suit.
Going with solid black from head to toe is a sharp, but slightly more fashion-forward look.
If the family of the deceased is particularly old school or conservative, they may find it a bit too forward for funerals, which are obviously somber occasions.
(For instance, you’d probably never see a funeral director wearing a black shirt.)
But if you’re close friends with the deceased and you know they wouldn’t mind it, then you can feel confident going for it.
Black Suit, Black Shirt, No Tie
Going with the all black look while skipping the tie is an even less formal look, which some people might not consider appropriate funeral attire.
But while this may not be traditional attire, wearing any kind of formal suit and collared shirt results in a look that’s still quite dressed up, especially since so many men nowadays seem to have forgotten how to dress like a gentleman.
The last thing you want to do is offend an immediate family member of the deceased, so you should probably proceed with a bit of caution here.
But using a little common sense should make it pretty clear whether this look will work or not:
If you know the deceased’s family is pretty conservative, then stick with the classic look and throw on a tie.
(And if they’re really conservative, stick with the white dress shirt while you’re at it.)
But if you don’t think they particularly care about fashion or formal wear, then you should feel comfortable wearing either of the black shirt options.
What to Wear to a Funeral if You Don’t Have a Suit
As a general rule, wearing a full suit is definitely the best option for a funeral.
(Unless the family has requested a specific dress code that calls for casual attire, which is really the only exception to this rule of thumb.)
But if you don’t own a suit, you can still cobble together some appropriate outfits with a few of the key pieces that most men have in their closets.
Important: Stick with Darker Colors
The best – and in my opinion, only – way to get away with skipping a suit for formal occasions is to opt for darker colors in whatever you wear instead.
Lighter colors are inherently less formal than dark or neutral colors.
And since you’re already a little under-dressed without a suit, you don’t want to dig yourself a deeper hole by wearing bright colours that are out of place at a somber event like a funeral.
Your best bet is to stick with darker colors like black, navy and dark gray.
If you don’t have shirts or sweaters in these colors, it might be worth investing in a few.
The good news is that shirts and sweaters are both much cheaper and much more versatile than suits:
The same type of conservative colors that you see at most Western funerals work just as well for a business meeting, job interview or other business casual events, so it’s worth having a few in your arsenal.
And the same is true of dark pants, which each of the options below should be paired with.
Cardigan Sweater, Dress Shirt, Tie
If you don’t have a suit, the best thing you can do is wear a cardigan sweater.
Cardigans are a good choice because they button up in the center, much like a suit jacket.
As a result, they’re a bit more formal than pullover sweaters, especially when paired with a long sleeve shirt and a tie.
Both a shawl collar cardigan and a regular style can work, just make sure to choose a dark colour that’s in keeping with the somber type of service you’re attending.
V-Neck Sweater, Dress Shirt, Tie
After a cardigan, the next most formal option is a v-neck sweater.
V-necks are slightly more formal than crew neck sweaters because the “vee” of the sweater collar dips down, which allows your shirt collar and tie knot to show more prominently.
It’s a good way to show that even though you’re not wearing a suit, you’re still more dressed up than normal.
Crew Neck Sweater, Dress Shirt, Tie
If you don’t have a v-neck but think you need some extra layers, a crew neck can still work.
The key is just to make sure that the sweater fits slim and hues tightly to your body.
Bulky crew neck sweaters can end up looking more like sweatshirts, aka the athletic-looking sweaters that are often worn with athletic shoes and baseball caps.
That’s fine for the playing field, but not the most respectful look when you’re surrounded by mourners who are going through a difficult time.
Dress Shirt, Tie
If the weather is warmer, you can skip the sweater altogether, but there are a few caveats here.
First, make sure you wear a long sleeve dress shirt – short sleeves are too informal.
Second, it’s also imperative that your shirt is a lighter color than your tie.
The classic white shirt and black tie combo is best, but if you can’t do that then try to get as close to it as possible (think white shirt with navy tie, for example).
A dark shirt paired with a light tie is a classic style mistake that looks amateurish no matter where you try it, and borderline disrespectful at a funeral.
Dress Shirt, No Tie
When the weather’s really hot, you can skip the tie and still look put together and respectful.
A crisp white dress shirt tucked into a pair of black dress pants and a sharp pair of black dress shoes will certainly be more casual (and more moderately temperature).
But it can still look respectful, especially if the shirt and pants are well tailored and look sharp.
Finally, if you don’t even own a dress shirt – and refuse to buy one – you can at least throw on a polo shirt.
Polo shirts are more like t-shirts than dress shirts, so they’re kind of an option of last resort.
But they at least have a collar, which nods at the more formal look of dress shirts, if not exactly matching their sharp style.
More Specific Funeral Attire
Casual Funeral Attire for Men
As mentioned above, their are certain (rare) circumstances that call for more casual funeral attire.
Usually this happens when the family decides to skip the formal funeral rituals and opt for a more casual celebration of life type service, which is often held in their home or backyard.
In this case, I still recommend erring on the side of being a little over-dressed, rather than under-dressed.
For instance, the look I mentioned above – a navy blue blazer with a white shirt and khaki pants – could work well here.
If you get there and feel like you’re a little over-dressed, you can always just lose the jacket and roll up your shirt sleeves, resulting in a smart-casual look that’s respectful and sharp.
Summer Funeral Attire for Men
Hot summer funerals are tricky since the main funeral color is black, which can be killer when the heat is sweltering.
But there are a few things you can do to look respectful at summer funerals while mitigating the effects of the heat.
First, opt for a gray suit instead of black.
Gray is usually a little too informal for funerals, but if you’re under the hot summer sun, you can get away with it.
Just make sure to keep it in the medium to dark gray family, rather than a really light (and thus really informal) shade.
Skip the Tie
Pairing your gray suit with a black tie will help add a bit of formality back to the outfit.
But if it’s 100 degrees or you know there’s going to be an outdoor graveside service, feel free to skip it.
While a good pair of black socks are standard issue for most funerals, during a hot summer funeral they’re more a liability than anything.
Feel free to skip them, just make sure you’re wearing comfortable enough shoes to go barefoot all day.
Winter Funeral Attire for Men
Winter funerals are arguably easier to dress for than summer funerals, because in winter you want to add extra layers, rather than subtract.
For instance, you can combine Options 1 to 4 with Options 5, 6 or 7, and wear a sweater under your suit jacket as an extra layer.
Just make sure to keep the sweater in the same color family as your suit:
A black sweater works great under a black suit, as do darker shades of gray like charcoal.
If that’s not quite enough, you can also add a layer on top in the form of a topcoat or overcoat.
The Best Place to Buy a Funeral Suit
If you don’t already have a black or dark-colored suit that will work well for funerals, it’s probably worth investing in one.
I’ve put together a whole post outlining some of the most affordable places to buy a good suit, but here are my top choices:
I love S&L suits because they’re made from the same kind of lightweight, stretchy materials usually found in athleisure wear and performance clothes.
This makes them great for warm weather climates, and guys who want a little extra stretch in their suits.
What’s great about Indochino is that they allow you to fully customize just about every aspect of your suit, from the fabric and lapel style to the cut, venting and more.
They essentially give you a fully bespoke, custom-made suit for about the same money as most brands charge for their generic off-the-rack options.
Bonobos is my favorite go-to for classic, unimpeachable menswear.
They have a wide selection of suits, including big and tall sizes, all of which are well cut, well priced and quite high quality for the price.
Nowadays most men don’t need to wear a suit to work everyday.
That means when events like weddings and funerals come up, many of us find ourselves feeling a bit uncomfortable when we finally suit up.
That’s why we put together a comprehensive primer on how to wear a suit that covers everything from how it should fit to how to accessorize it for maximum effect.
It should help you look and feel more confident in your funeral attire, especially if putting on a suit is rare or somewhat foreign for you.
More Resources ↓
More Men’s Suits and Style Advice Irreverent Gent:
- How to Buy Your First Suit
- How to Shop for Men’s Clothes
- How to Look More Handsome and Attractive
- The (Absolute) Best Athletic Fit Dress Shirts for Muscular Guys
- The Quickest, Most Effective Way to Measure Your Sleeve Length
- How to Create a Personal Style Profile
- How to Measure Your Pants Inseam
- In Review: Alain Dupetit’s (Suspiciously Affordable) Suits
- The 21 Best Shoes to Wear with Shorts
More Advice on Funeral Attire from Around the Web:
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