What to Wear to a Wake? (How to Avoid Dressing Up or Down)

Attending a funeral is not an amusing and enjoyable activity. So should reflect your attire. Now I don’t mean that you strictly dress up in black. What I mean to say is that you need to avoid bright colors, glittery fabrics, and flashy prints. So what to wear to a wake?

Think of it like attending a professional business meeting. Choose an outfit that matches with the climate, location, and culture of the mourning family of the deceased.

Dressing up for a funeral shouldn’t be a confusing decision to make. There are more important matters that require attention at such times. So you need to make sure that your clothes don’t attract any of that attention.

Be Conservative


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Funerals and wakes are somber occasions. So it only makes sense to dress conservatively. That means choosing conservative styles and colors. You can wear an all-black ensemble if you like. But it’s not really mandatory for you to do so.

What’s considered to be situation-sensitive is avoiding bright colors and wild prints. Keep from showing a lot of skin as well. That means plunging necklines are also not appropriate.

What to Wear to a Wake – The Dos and Don’ts


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What to Wear to a Wake:

Dress up keeping the location in mind

Is the memorial service going to be held at the beach? Then the ceremony will be more casual. As compared to one taking place in a church!

Dress up using your common sense

The point I’m trying to make here is very simple to understand. Did you know the person who passed away? Was he/she a formal or serious human being? If yes, choose more conservative attire.

Dress up after seeking some advice

Don’t hesitate to ask any family member of the departed for advice. You can even talk to the person in charge of the funeral. Chances are that the deceased might have specified that everybody wears green to his/her funeral.

Dress up to blend in

What’s the point in standing out at a wake! It’s best to become one with the crowd in such scenarios. It’s only appropriate and respectful.

Dress up according to the culture

Not all cultures have the same traditions, right? This applies to funerals as well. For instance, Asian cultures opt for white. And African cultures prefer black and red.

So if the deceased belonged to a specific cultural background, it’s highly advisable to dress up according to that.

What NOT to Wear to a Wake:


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Don’t wear a rebellious outfit

 Like I mentioned earlier, standing out is not a respectful thing to do at a funeral. It’s a time to mourn. And not display your rebel personality.

Don’t underdress either

Now I don’t mean you attend the wake wearing your favorite pair of flip-flops. Keep away from such excessively casual items of clothing.

Don’t forget you’re attending a funeral

The only point here is to pay your respects to the person who passed away. So choose a well-mannered outfit. Stick to simple dark colors. Also, cover up as much as you can.

Don’t forget that honoring the deceased is the most important thing to do here. This means you’re okay with whatever that isn’t totally inappropriate or too loud.

Generally speaking, funeral attire etiquette is similar for both women and men. That is a conservative, respectful, business-like outfit. Dressing down or dressing up is a complete no-no. More suitable options are black or dark colors.

Even so, I have discussed what to wear to a wake for both women and men.

What to Wear to a Wake – For Women


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Funeral ensembles have become a little more relaxed than they used to be. Particularly for women! I have stated enough number of times that the clothing should be conservative and respectful. You need to take into account that the ultimate goal is to avoid drawing any attention toward you.

So here’s some specific advice you might want to know as a woman:

  • Wear a pant-suit or skirt-suit in solid, dark colors. It’s a safe and appropriate choice in my opinion. You don’t need to dress up in black unless it’s the norm of the culture.
  • A skirt that’s not too short paired with a sweater or blouse. That’s another normal way to dress for a funeral.
  • As for shoes, pumps or flats are a good choice. If the ceremony is an open event, you can put on open-toe sandals or shoes.
  • A hat is optional, only if the culture requires it.
  • Can you wear jeans to a wake? Or leggings? Nope, I don’t think so.
  • Likewise, avoid a low-cut neckline, mini skirt, and bright, flashy colors.

What to Wear to a Wake – For Men


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Like I already told you; dress as if you’re heading to a professional business meeting. Men should also choose conservative and respectful elements. That don’t invite attention.

You can keep the following points in mind:

  • If you want to wear a suit, then great. Pair it up with a tie and collared shirt.
  • If you prefer wearing slacks, that’s no problem either. Combine that with a dark or muted color sports coat. You can wear black as well, obviously.
  • Deciding to wear jeans is a bad idea. Unless the climatic conditions tip the scale in that direction.
  • Also, avoid sneakers and shirts with short sleeves.
  • Even baseball caps fall in the “Not to Wear” category. In fact, baseball caps are almost never appropriate.

Wrapping It Up

There’s a place and time for everything, am I right? And a wake or funeral is certainly not the right place for testing your trendy or flashy clothing.

With that in mind, wear something well-suited for the gloomy occasion. But figuring out what’s appropriate is definitely a bit tricky. There’s absolutely no doubt about that.

Is this outfit more suitable for the funeral? It’s a common question that springs up in most people’s mind. There’s no need to be embarrassed about that. Not knowing how to dress up for a wake is not such a big deal. And so isn’t dressing up for the funeral.

What I mean to say is that you should keep things simple. Particularly your attire! Your choice of colors and style has to be more on the serious side. Only then can you end up looking appropriate and respectful at someone’s funeral.

How to Follow Proper Funeral Etiquette


The guidelines I’ve discussed in the article offer a great start. So read through them if you haven’t already. And if you have any useful advice to offer, please do so. It can go a long way, trust me.

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