what to wear: non-black to a funeral

in Style

what to wear to a funeralGetting ready for a funeral seems like a slam-dunk. Pull out your black dress or black skirt and top and slip out the door. Right?  That’s what most people do.  But why? Why is black so significant to North Americans when it comes to death?

Well, it started with Queen Victoria.  She started wearing black as a sign of mourning and others followed. People typically wore dull black and then moved to other darker and then muted colors as the mourning time passed — typically 2 years. That’s a long time.  Nowadays, with black signifying “sophisticated” and “sleek”, the other meanings attributed to black such as “darkness” and “death” don’t seem to hold  as much weight — except for at funerals.

And yet, to me, it doesn’t seem to be the most appropriate color to wear to every single funeral. The person we are memorializing for the day could have been the most dynamic person we have ever met, full of life and energy. Why would we want to commemorate them in black? It is quite appropriate to wear a different darker color such as navy, charcoal or dark brown.  Most Asian countries wear white to funerals since white signifies spirituality and peace.  I like that.

Why can’t we remember our loved ones and honor them by wearing their favorite color? Or wearing a color that signifies to us what they meant? I mean, when I die, I don’t want people to wear black to my funeral.  I want them to wear white. I want to see my loved ones and friends in full, head-to-toe white – beautiful and peaceful. Uplifting and spiritual.  Or my favorite color green…full of life and vitality.  No black please — well, you could certainly add some cute black accessories and shoes and I wouldn’t mind! ;)

I don’t think wearing color to a funeral is bad. What do you think? What color would you want people to wear to your funeral?

And, in case you need to attend a funeral, here’s some black-alternative dress ideas:


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

ProlificLiving July 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I am voting on black all the way. Black is the formal color of grieving. I am actually writing a post on funeral etiquette, having just come back from a funeral and you’d be happy to know that in this North American funeral, I was one of the very very few clad in all black. Black is not just a North American color for funerals (if that) it is hugely universal. That’s just me though. Grieving first, then celebration.

weekdaysolomommy June 1, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I like the idea of including in your will/funeral instructions (like whether or not you want to be creamated) how you would like people to dress for your funeral. The idea of your closest family and friends in white gives me an image of serenity that is beautiful. Thanks for starting my thinking….

Fran Aslam From Online writer April 29, 2011 at 9:36 am

Hi Theresa:

I wrote a comment yesterday, that was my state of mind yesterday, as I started thinking about my death. This morning when I came to this site for comments and read your post, I have a different feeling about death, and I am adding a comment as a live person, my death is not the conception here why should I write about that. Sorry for being so Introvert yesterday.

Just like everything else it is our choice how to represent our-self. In case you do not want black and the ceremony host does not mind, wear anything that you want. As you are there to share their occasion. You have freedom and you have choices to choose from.

Fran A

Fran Aslam From Online writer April 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

Very Interesting topic here. I am not ready for this discussion, as needs a lot to talk about. But there is nothing wrong with black, as it has been the expression for a long time.

But there is no need to shop for bright colors to go to a funeral, or for your own ( this goes for me)

If loved ones, family and friend can honor the dead, by celebrating, that is the best that counts

Fran A

charlene@Mercury Free Dentist April 28, 2011 at 12:37 am

Hi Teresa! My top choices are black and/or white (at least for a blouse). That is if I have time to prepare and check my wardrobe. But there are times that I need to go to a funeral without preparation, like my friends just called me up, so I would just go there whatever dress or blouse color I have. Except if I’m wearing red, that’s a no no!

Sherryl Perry @ internet business strategy April 27, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Love this post Teresa! I honestly haven’t thought about what I’d want people to wear to my funeral but I think a bright jewel color would be appropriate. I’d want people to celebrate my life.

Monica Dennis April 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm

At my church, funerals are homegoing services and wearing white isn’t unheard of. Hmm. I’ll have to ask my husband what he wants when that time comes, but for me I’d say let me see your purple! 🙂

Evelyn Parham April 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Hi Teresa,

I think wearing color to a funeral is fine. I’ve always wore my black dress, but I guess if I did wear color, I would feel odd.

I don’t have a color, but I’d say where whatever your heart desires.

Teresa April 26, 2011 at 11:35 am

I love it! What a nice way to honor her.

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