Browse By

How to dress at a funeral: we solve all your doubts

Attending a funeral is not a pleasure for anyone. But, if we already have doubts about how we should dress to go to a wedding or other festive event, when it comes to attending a funeral, the questions multiply.

As in many other ceremonies, each culture has its own uses and customs. In China, for example, until a few decades ago, brides’ dresses were red, as this was the color of good luck and prosperity.

In South Africa, however, this tone is that of mourning, to symbolize the blood of the deceased, as also happened in Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. While In China, the color white is reserved for funeral rites, as is also done in Japan and India.

White is the color that symbolizes mourning in culture. eastern and black, in the western; However, in Europe, dDuring the Middle Ages, white was common among mourning women, especially among queens.

It would be the Catholic Monarchs who introduced black as the color of mourning when enacting, in 1502, the call Pragmatics of mourning and wax, which established the rules of behavior to follow after the death of a loved one.

That set of laws It regulated everything from the clothing of the attendees to the number of candles and candles. (hence the name pragmatics) that could be placed around the coffin. It also established the time and term of mourning (which could last up to two years for widows) or the obligation for neighbors to offer their condolences.

Over time, these rules became more flexible, but cultural differences remain, and even between European or Western countries, there are differences in how Nordics and southern Europeans celebrate funerals.

Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten; Kate Middleton and Máxima of Holland.

And, in the United States, for example, after the religious service, in which the merits of the deceased person are glorified, a meeting is held in the home of the deceased, to celebrate a lunch or dinner in his memory, to which all Guests bring a prepared dish.

It is also worth clarifying that burial or cremation (which is usually a strictly family ceremony) is not the same as the visit to the funeral home to offer condolences to the family. In the latter case, if we have found out suddenly, and we cannot stop by the house to change clothes, the important thing, of course, is to go and give a hug to the relatives of the deceased person.

In the case of the funeral mass that is celebrated, some time later, in the parish of the deceased, as we usually know in advance the date, place and time, It is desirable to follow certain unwritten rules. Because, it should be noted, these are not mandatory rules but rather a way to express our respect and affection.

Maxima of Holland, Margaret of Denmark and Kate Middleton.

And there are also what are called “remembrance masses”, which are celebrated in the years following death, to commemorate the anniversary of the death, and in which the rules on how to dress are relaxed.

The classic tradition dictates wearing black and, if we do not have any clothing in this color, opt for something in gray or dark blue. In the case of men, where it is rare to have a black suit, The ideal is a dark suit and a black tie.

For the woman, a classic-cut black suit or dress or dark are always a success. But you can also opt for black pants and a blouse or sweater. Of course, ripped or worn jeans and sweaters, even if they are this color, are best left in the closet.

If we opt for a black skirt or dress, it is advisable that the length reaches well below the knee and it is better to skip miniskirts. You must also avoid large necklines, transparencies or openings and cutouts for them, or shorts and flip flops for them, to give just a few examples.

In some places, for example in Andalusia, the custom of wearing a black mantilla is maintained, and in England it is still worn a hat or headdress whose size is directly proportional to the importance of the deceased person. For this reason, in the so-called State funerals everything is thought out and planned to the millimeter, even the clothing of the guests.

Different ways of interpreting the protocol for a state funeral.

In this photo gallery, we review the images of the Queen of England’s funeral services and analyze how the guests adjusted, in very different ways, to the protocol required for a state funeral.

We have selected those photos that show how, within the obligatory nature of a color, black, and the sobriety that such an event requires, there are many ways to comply with the dress code that the invitation to the sovereign’s funeral required.

Knowing how to dress at a funeral, both a state one and a less formal one, is a show of respect and affection towards the deceased, but also towards his family. These are difficult times (not because they are expected, but the less painful) and, in the midst of so many emotions, sober and elegant clothing is our best gift.

Many years ago, our grandmothers, becoming widows, They had to wear mourning or mourn for years, either after the death of her husband or the death of her father or mother. The rigor of the rule was such that, even the young woman who had lost one of her parents, was not allowed to marry in white, as Federico García Lorca tells us in Bernarda Alba’s house.

At that time, to attend funeral rites the so-called “rigorous mourning” was required, that is, attendees had to dress completely in black. Fashion, as a form of non-oral communication, thus showed the pain and the pain felt by the loss of a loved one.

The pain was not only manifested through black, but also through the almost total absence of makeup and jewelry: “It was established jet as the official stone of mourning, and colored ones (emeralds, rubies…) and also pieces that were too large should be avoided,” comments historian Ricardo Mateos Sáinz de Medrano.

The Kings of Spain, at different funerals.

But what happens when it’s a funeral with less pomp and circumstance? We have reviewed some looks, from the funeral for Ivana Trump to some others in our country, passing through the mass in memory of Philip of Edinburgh, in search of ideas and different styles to adapt to the unwritten protocol.

In all of them there is a common denominator: affection for the deceased person and respect for their last wishes. Therefore, although black or gray are colors that are always the right choice when attending a funeral, this can change if, making his wishes come true, another color is chosen.

The kings, at the funeral for Jose Pedro Pérez-Llorca Rodrigo in Madrid, in 2019.

Discover, in our image gallery, different ways to comply with what tradition dictates for funerals, although they are less formal than a state one. Although, when attending a ceremony of this type, etiquette rules warn that any note of color should be avoided, currently light colors, such as powdery ones, are allowed.

According to these uses and customs, the skirt must cover at least up to the knee and the pants, better wide than very tight. Prints should be delicate and inconspicuous. The footwear must be discreet and closed and the accessories must be black and discreet. But then, each one adapts these ‘rules’, according to his/her best practices and understanding.

Fortunately, today, the protocol already allows attendance at temples and cemeteries with greater flexibility in clothing, but we must remember that a funeral or burial is not a fashion catwalk and that Discretion and good judgment must be extreme.

The ceremony or religious act that is celebrated in honor of a deceased person must be marked by sobriety and formality, so one must avoid attracting attention, as recalled in the saying that criticizes the desire for prominence of those who always seek to be: “The child at the baptism, the groom at the wedding and the dead at the funeral.”

If we attend (which is voluntary), we must do so with great consideration and respect, not only in the way we dress, but also in the way we behave. Ultimately, the important thing is not what you choose to wear, but rather empathizing with the suffering and grief that the family and friends of the deceased person may be feeling.

Even if you are lucky enough not to have suffered a similar loss, courtesy and prudence marks discretion, calm manners, remain silent, do not make inappropriate comments and avoid laughter or fuss.

But remember: There is no more flattering accessory than a smile No style more convincing than naturalness and kindness, if backed by admiration and affection. As the great Sigmund Freud said: “Modern science has not yet produced a calming medicine as effective as a few kind words.”

Follow the topics that interest you