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What is Proper Funeral Wear?

Appropriate funeral wear or attire has changed over the years. Shifting sensibilities and demographics have had a tremendous influence on what is considered proper.

Proper attire for funerals of different religions

Different religions have different requirements and expectations when it comes to correct clothing for both men and women. If you are attending the funeral of someone that will be conducted according to the rites of a specific religion, it is a gesture of respect to adhere to that faith's guidelines.

Jewish services

Head covering may be required or optional, depending on the sect. For an Orthodox service, both men and women are required to wear head coverings. In conservative services, men must wear head coverings, and in the Reformed community head coverings are optional.

Black and/or dark colored clothing is the standard and considered the most respectful.

Muslim services

Because the service will take place in a Mosque, shoes must be removed.

Men and women will sit separately, and women are required to wear a headscarf.

Buddhist services

While darkly colored clothes are not required, it is still considered a sign of respect. Red is not acceptable.

If the service takes place in a Temple, wear clean and conservative socks because footwear will be removed.

The family traditionally wears white to represent grief.

Hindu services

The grieving family will wear white

Those in attendance are expected to wear black or darkly colored clothing

Christian services

At one time, black or dark clothing was required. Although it is now optional, it is still considered a sign of respect. Light colors are frowned upon, unless there is a special meaning.

Suits or jackets and ties are standard men's wear. Dresses or skirts are traditional for women.

Do not wear tennis or other athletic shoes

Eastern Christianity may require that a head covering is worn

Proper funeral attire can be a tricky affair. One rule of thumb is to follow the lead of the family, and dress in accordance with their preferences. If you are attending the funeral of someone who practiced a religion different from your own, it is a good idea to speak with someone about the requirements and expectations and act on that information. If you are attending a service that does not have a religious affiliation, black or dark clothing is traditional, but the rules are a little more generous. Make inquiries to avoid embarrassing situations.

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