What to Wear to a Spring Funeral

What do you wear to a celebration of life in warmer weather? Read on for eight quick tips on keeping cool and respectful when honoring a loved one. 

Deciding what to wear to a funeral service is more challenging in Spring. Proper funeral attire is essential, but warmer weather also demands comfort. You want to feel more relaxed to focus on honoring your loved one and choose an outfit that is respectful to the occasion and surroundings. 

Keep reading for suggestions on what to wear to a spring or summer funeral. 

#1: Consider the Venue 

Will you be indoors, in air-conditioning, for the entire funeral? Will there be a burial or interment? Wear clothes that layer if there is a combination of inside and outdoor activities. This might be a short-sleeve dress with a light cardigan or shawl for women. For gentlemen, a lightweight suit or a sports jacket (for more informal services). A crisp short-sleeved button-down is also acceptable for gentlemen at a spring funeral.

If it’s a formal service, women can wear a sleeveless dress (or a sleeveless shirt paired with a skirt or dress pants), so long as they have something to cover exposed arms. Avoid cut-out designs (like the “cold shoulder” look). Sleeveless shirts are never an option for gentlemen. However, they can unbutton a long-sleeved shirt and roll up the sleeves when going outdoors. 

#2: Respect Your Internal Temperature

Some people run hot; others reach for a sweater even in the summer. Respect your internal temperature preference. You can remove layers as the day warms up for an outdoor event or a room becomes crowded. The focus is on your loved one. Watch the weather forecast and decide what you’ll wear the night before morning service or the afternoon if it’s a late afternoon or evening event. 

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#3: Add a Hat

In addition to religious requirements about head coverings, a hat protects you from the heat and glare of a spring or summer day. And hats are considered appropriate for formal funerals and memorial services, whether inside or outdoors. 

Keep your casual headgear at home unless the family asks you to wear a baseball cap (or similarly informal hat) for a specific theme. Stick with lightweight Panama, fedora, Tribley, or other appropriate headwear. Avoid hats with extra wide or floppy brims so as to not block someone’s view. 

Movies and TV shows love to show women wearing intricate black funeral hats or fascinators, often with a veil. This isn’t a typical look at most memorials  – we recommend checking with the family before buying a “Dynasty” style hat. 

#4: Be Ready for Quick Weather Changes

Springtime can mean cooler mornings, with rising temperatures as the day goes on. Be ready for sunny skies with sunglasses for committal services or outdoor receptions. And since “April showers bring May flowers,” be prepared with a light raincoat and umbrella. 

Be prepared for any situation with conservative, comfortable clothes. Tight-fitting clothes in warm weather are a nightmare, not to mention the risk of visible perspiration or “pit stains.” Mind your shoes, too. Ladies should opt for closed-toe, low-heeled dress shoes since the service might be outside on grass, dirt, or gravel. Gentlemen should also choose appropriate shoes, either in a lace-up or loafer. 

#5: Choose Breathable Fabrics 

Natural fabrics are more comfortable in warm weather. Clothes made with silk, linen, chambray, and cotton are breathable – far more comfortable than synthetic materials like polyester and nylon. Denim is unacceptable for a funeral in any weather unless the family has decided on a theme where jeans and denim jackets are appropriate. 

#6: Wear Neutral Tones

While black or navy blue is always a safe choice to wear to a funeral, other colors are more acceptable. Dark colors absorb heat faster, so pay attention if the life celebration or memorial will be outside. Proper funeral attire for a spring memorial includes light, neutral colors: gray, beige, mauve, white, or off-white. You can wear a solid color or a discrete pattern. 

Men and women should avoid bright colors, shirts with logos or graphics, and flashy prints. 

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#7: Tie or No Tie?

Men should add a necktie depending on the time of day and type of service. However, it is appropriate at a spring funeral service for gentlemen to wear a short-sleeve button-up or polo shirt in a solid or muted pattern. For most memorial services, a lightweight suit, tailored pants, and a coordinated blazer are safe choices.  

#8: Accessorize Wisely

What you wear to a funeral service isn’t limited to clothes. Men and women should keep accessories simple and conservative. Gentlemen, a funeral is not the place for brightly colored or flashing ties. Nor should you wear a belt with an oversized buckle. For the ladies, avoid flashy jewelry, like shoulder-length earrings or noisy bangles. 

Also, spray cologne or perfume with a light touch or not at all. You don’t want to risk someone having an allergic reaction to heavy scents. If you know you’ll be outside and sunburn easily, apply sunscreen before leaving the house. 

What You Should NOT Wear to a Funeral

Generally, funerals with a viewing or visitation or those with a religious service (such as a mass) invite more formal clothes. A celebration of life is considered less formal. Ask the family (or a close friend) for specific guidance when in doubt. 

In general, men and women should not wear the following to any funeral, no matter how casual or thematic:

  • Shorts, cut-offs, jeans, athletic shirts, “onesies,” halter tops, tube tops, or crop tops
  • Mini-dresses or skirts; hems should be knee length or longer
  • Sneakers, boat shoes, flip-flops, house slippers, Crocs, riding boots, or sexy stilettos
  • Printed or graphic tee shirts
  • Loungewear of any kind
  • Sunglasses inside or at night

<<For tips on supporting a grieving friend or family member, read “Checking on Loved Ones After a Loss”>>

Remember the Reason 

A funeral is not about what you wear. You’ve lost someone near and dear to you, or you’re providing comfort for someone who has. What you wear is not as important as paying attention to the moment and responding genuinely to the eulogy, memories, worship, and music. 

Planning More Than Your Wardrobe 

Getting dressed for a spring funeral might also start you thinking about your end-of-life plans. Would you want your loved ones to dress in colors to support your favorite team? Or do you envision a breezy beach-themed celebration of life, complete with a Hawaiian shirt and flowered leis? 

We all become the guest of honor at a funeral someday. By taking a few simple steps to plan ahead, you ensure your loved ones understand your last wishes. You also save them the additional stress and expense of making funeral arrangements without your input. Talk to your local ShareLife funeral provider about preplan arrangements. 

<<Watch a two-minute video about the benefits of prearranging>>