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What to wear at a funeral in Northern Ireland?

Consider your wardrobe for a funeral. What to wear at a funeral in Northern Ireland.

What to wear at a funeral is an important and personal choice.

There are three points to keep in mind with regard to funerals and how to dress.

  • Respect for the one who has passed away
  • Respect for the family of the one who has passed away
  • Respect for the community of which you are a part
Traditional thinking

When we think about how we should dress for a funeral, we almost automatically think of black and white.  Our mind set suggests this choice because of traditional thinking, custom and etiquette.  We should always realise that funerals are sombre occasions and therefore we dress accordingly to pay our respects.  What follows is just a guide with regard to what to wear at a funeral.

Suitable colours

When picking attire, darker colours are equally acceptable as black at funerals for men and women. Dark suits, lighter shirts and darker ties are best.  Usually men who are immediate family will wear dark suits, white shirts and black ties.  Ladies may wear black dresses or dark coloured apparel.  This also applies to Funeral Directors, but for everyone else, whilst clothes are toned down, it is not necessary to be dressed like the immediate family.

Smart and respectful

It is good to stick to dark colours or shades if you don’t have black clothes, or if you just prefer not to wear black.  The possibilities are many.  Black ties are not a necessity for men with many darker options available.  You could wear Navy-blues, dark greys, dark greens or brown clothes as an alternative.  It is not a good idea to turn up in bright colours, whether this is a bright dress for ladies or a bright shirt and tie for men.  On that note ladies may prefer to wear a dark coloured dress or even tasteful trouser and jacket combinations.  All of these look smart and respectful when worn.  Very casual clothes displaying a lack of consideration should be avoided when attending funerals and ladies should also dress appropriately.  Always pick shoes that are comfortable and practical.  Ladies, Stilettos are not a good option around a graveyard for obvious reasons!!

Family preferences

Occasionally the family may have a preference, as to the clothes and the colour chosen but that is their prerogative. Indeed they may pass this on to mourners. Sometimes families can reflect on the life someone has had by changing the status quo.

Overdressed or under dressed

There is nothing worse than turning up at a funeral and realising that we are overdressed or under dressed for the occasion.  A good sense of dress goes a long way in helping a family to accept your consideration for them and the loved one who has died.  It is always the little things that are noticed at a funeral.  Shoes that are grubby and unpolished do little to help the overall appearance and believe it or not will be the first item to be noticed and commented on.

Climate conscious

Always remember to dress for the weather.  Graveyards are cold places at the best of times so factor in rain and wind and keep an overcoat and umbrella in the car that you can use at a moment’s notice.

Having said all this, always dress in comfortable clothes. If you are not in the habit of wearing a suit, shirt and tie then wear dark colours but in a style you are accustomed to.  This could be trousers, shirt and a jacket, not necessarily a suit jacket with a jumper underneath.  This done, when you arrive you will be aware that you blend in with those around you and with the atmosphere of the occasion.  A funeral is a time for communities to corporately come together to pay their last respects so a sensible approach to dress is always to be encouraged.

If you have any other issues or questions regarding funerals please call us on 02827662265 or contact us at Or you can contact us via this page.

Kenneth McAuley Dip. FD  (Funeral Director at James McMullan & Son)