What to wear to a Funeral?

Times are changing and with this in mind, it is worth noting what attire to wear to a funeral. Funerals are sombre occasions, even if those who have passed want it to be festive. Making sure you understand what the dress code is, will make sure there is no surprises on the day.

Funeral dress code

In South Africa with our many cultures there are some common formalities to follow when it comes to dress code. Unless you are told otherwise, the most common outfit for funerals for men are grey or black suits, if it is warm you could wear grey or black pants with a collared shirt. In both cases formal shoes should be worn, sneakers (takkies) or flip flops are not acceptable footwear.

For woman a black dress or a black skirt or pants and muted or dark colour shirt will work. The same applies when it comes to footwear, a formal shoe is a must. Woman are also required to cover their hair as a sign of respect in African cultures, in other traditional funerals hats can be worn. If you were considering wearing white, that would be a definite no, as it is a common colour to avoid when going to a funeral as it can be deemed disrespectful. The only time you wear white is when you are explicitly asked to wear it, which does happen today, mostly when people want their end-of-life celebrated. At the end of the day it is about honouring the wishes of the deceased and paying your final respects, you will know best by the person they were and the relationship you had, what attire will be best to do just that.

The above is a short guideline on what you should and what you should not wear, you can think of this as the dress code for both formal or traditional funerals. The only time you should wear something different is if you know the departed wanted it that way and/or the funeral notification tells you to. The latter is optional, so if you do not feel comfortable breaking out of customary funeral attire, don’t feel that you must.