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Alpha M

Proper Funeral Attire

Dealing with a loved one's death is never easy. It bestows sadness like nothing else can.  It's hardly a time to worry about what to wear to the funeral, yet it's often a time when many guys do.

Torn between traditional black and today's acceptance of subtle colors, men are often unsure of how to appropriately and respectfully dress for wakes and funerals. Granted, funerals are not affairs when one needs to be concerned about making a fashion statement, but at the same time, we want to look our best by dressing in current, acceptable clothing and colors. Newer practices of wearing more upbeat and less depressing colors to funerals have replaced the traditional black that's been synonymous with death and mourning. As a way of "celebrating" the deceased's life instead of grieving his or her passing, people now wear tasteful clothing whose color brings some relief to a very dismal time. That being said, read on for an inventory of suitable funeral attire that, hopefully, will eliminate the confusion and stress of dressing at a time when we need to focus on other things.

  • Black is always acceptable regardless of new trends. You can never go wrong with a black suit, white shirt, black tie, and shoes. Overcoats and umbrellas should be black, as well, for anyone going to the graveyard for the burial.
  • Suit colors that show respect and are acceptable alternatives to black are navy, gray, and charcoal. Avoid wearing light color suits, since they aren't as conservative as darker ones, not to mention light colors stick out like a sore thumb.
  • Solid color suits are ideal, but just as presentable are suits with subtle patterns like pinstripe and windowpane. Remember, the theme should be a conservative one, so keep the pattern subdued and simple.
  • No suit to wear? Not a problem, but do wear a nice pair of appropriately colored dress slacks.
  • White shirts are always safe, but so are light blue ones. A quiet, muted light blue that compliments the suit is best.
  • This is not the time for patterned shirts, no matter how subtle.
  • Neckties need to follow suit and be conservative in size, color, and pattern. Funerals are not the occasion to wear loud, attention getting ties like the green cloverleaf tie I once saw at a funeral on St. Patrick's Day. Keep tie colors muted and bypass busy patterns. Solid color ties are always safest.
  • Shoes should be black or brown depending on the suit color. Again, this is a time to be conservative, so leave the cordovan shoes at home.
  • Conservative dress shoes are best, but dress boots are acceptable when going to the graveyard, especially if the ground is wet. This is not the time for cowboy or work boots, regardless of the weather.
  • I know I'm asking a lot with this one, but minimize the "do". Hair should be styled conservatively as a way of showing respect. A safe guideline and model to use is the "job interview" hairstyle. If it doesn't pass that test, try again. If it needs to be cut, do it, and make sure it's clean.
  • I'm sure I don't have to mention this, but just a reminder to address all facial hair by being impeccably groomed. And don't forget nail and hand care, since you'll be shaking a lot of hands.
  • No cologne. Not only is this not the time to draw attention to yourself, but you should be considerate of others who may have allergies. There are enough tears flowing at funerals, so don't risk adding to them... no matter how awesome your new cologne is.
  • Keep the jewelry simple. A watch and one ring per hand is sufficient. You might want to leave the studs and earrings at home this time. Again, think job interview.

A funeral is an affair that requires looking our best. It may not be the best we prefer, but it can be the best for the situation. Keep it conservative and respectful and you can't go wrong.

by Aaron Marino


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