A few years ago, a woman I know lost her 3-year-old son to a genetic disorder. At his funeral, the family requested that everyone wear orange, as that was Cooper’s favorite color. What a bright service that was too! That amazing color brightened the mood of the entire funeral and burial. Yes, everyone was still very sad that Cooper had died, but the energy from the orange funeral clothing helped sooth the entire experience.
Wearing brightly colored clothing to funerals it not as unusual as you may think. In today’s society, where the face of death is changing and becoming more accepted by the general population, the etiquette surrounding a funeral, memorial service, or burial is shifting as well.
Traditionally, funerals are formal affairs and guests have been required to dress accordingly, typically with dark suits for men and similar black ensembles for women. This rule of etiquette dates from the Victorian era when Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, died. Your Highness went into deep mourning for 40 years, wearing head-to-toe black clothing. While whittled down today, this custom never completely went out of style.
Many modern-day funerals and memorial services celebrate the lives of loved ones who died. Wearing all black or dark colors, although still a sign of respect, is not required especially if the funeral or memorial service has a theme such as the orange clothing for Cooper’s service.
The bottom line is this: If you know the funeral or memorial service will be traditional or formal in nature, then you need to dress for respect. Pull out the suit or the black dress and heels and go with that. However, if you are attending a Celebration of Life ceremony and everyone is asked to come Hawaiian shirts because the deceased loved Hawaii, then keep the formal funeral clothes in the closet. When in doubt, double check with a friend of the family or stick with the dressier apparel.