What to wear to a funeral
Coffin — Death Registration Services in Manunda, QLD

What to wear to a funeral

Funerals are far from joyful occasions, but more often people are calling them a celebration of life rather than a funeral service. Many people want their life remembered positively, leading to confusion about what is appropriate to wear.


For most funerals’ outfits are traditionally black. Still, unless you’ve had specific instructions on the invite to wear bright colours or one particular colour specifically, it’s better to air on the side of caution and stick to dark colours in Australia.


Here are the basic rules of thumb and some tips on dressing at a funeral in Australia.


Be respectful

Even if you knew the deceased well, dressing respectfully is paramount. It’s not the time or place to wear things that you both might have worn on weekends or socially together. It’s better to dress conservatively, especially if you don’t know the family well.


Black is the rule of thumb

Unless stated otherwise, black is an excellent place to start your funeral outfit quest. A classic cut dress or tailored pants for women and a suit for men is a good idea. Don’t worry about trying to make your accessories match. No one will notice if you’re wearing red shoes or a red bag.


Think about whose funeral you’re going to

When you’re thinking about what to wear, think about who’s funeral you’re attending. Were they a prominent person in the community, a respected business person or a leader? Or a surfer who spent their days in the ocean? Tailor your outfit depending on the culture or the vibe of the funeral. Just like you wouldn’t show up to a beach party in a ballgown, don’t go wearing a suit when the dress code is beachy.


Think about where the funeral is

Consider your outfit in relation to the location of the funeral. Many funerals happen on or near beaches, with the intention of walking along the sand or in the water. If so, make sure you wear easy-to-remove shoes. If it’s at a more casual setting like a beach, you can get away with a dress with a slightly shorter hemline. However, if the funeral is held at a place of worship, make sure you’re dressed more conservatively.


Consider the age of the attendees

If you’re attending your grandparent’s funeral or an older relative, most people will be wearing more conservative attire. It’s still important to remember it’s not a night club if it is a younger funeral.


Do I have to wear black to a funeral?

Not always. There might be a dress code on the invite that says they’d like everyone to wear a bright colour or cheerful colours, but if you don’t hear an alternative, it’s a good idea to wear black as default. If the deceased was close to you and you’re organising the funeral, you have some more freedom to wear what you want.


Tips for Women

  • Dark or muted dresses are traditional and don’t take attention away from the service.
  • Shoulders should be covered in most cases.
  • Skirts and dresses should reach the knee.
  • Suits are also considered respectful and appropriate.
  • Some funerals may require a hat.
  • Brighter colours may be worn on advice from the family but avoid sundresses or mini skirts.


Tips for Men

  • Buttoned white or light-coloured shirt.
  • Dark-coloured suit jackets.
  • Dark dress trousers.
  • Brown or black shoes, preferably leather dress shoes.
  • Muted necktie, no bold patterns or bright colours.
  • Long-sleeved, collared shirt; no open collars.
  • Dark jeans may be acceptable in some circumstances.


Every life should be celebrated, but in death, respects are best to be paid without distracting from the funeral itself.


At Cairns Funeral Directors, if you’re still not sure, we’re happy to guide you with some recommendations.