The traditional attire for a funeral is black clothing. However, some people think that this is too bleak and want to switch it up.
Whether you can wear white to a wedding or not will depend on whose funeral it is and their wishes.
The answer seems simple enough – it is not recommended to wear white at a funeral. There are several reasons why wearing white at a funeral might not be appropriate.
There are certain occasions where wearing white is inappropriate. For example, funerals are usually held indoors, and wearing white would be inappropriate because it makes you look cold.
Also, the color white symbolizes death, so it wouldn’t be appropriate to wear white at a funeral.
Let’s explore more whether you can wear white to a funeral or not.
White Has Been Worn At Funerals Before
While black and other dark tones are often considered to be more fitting with funerals, white has actually been used as usual funeral attire for many years in other countries.
White includes and disperses all other colors, so many people associate it with perfection and purity.
White can also be thought of as a color with spiritual connotations, as well as light, goodness, and understanding.
With all of this information now known, it’s not unusual that white is considered a color fitting for a funeral in many countries.
These positive connotations might make the idea of a funeral less sad for its guests as they say goodbye to a loved one.
Some people choose to wear white to a funeral to symbolize the afterlife that their loved one is now embarking on.
Black has a very bleak connotation, and some people don’t want to think about a bleak ending to their friend’s life.
We think that white at a funeral can show a sign of respect to the life lost, rather than sadness of the person’s passing.
White is more positive than black, which might set the tone for the rest of the day for the funeral goers.
Funeral Colors Around The World
Black is the traditional funeral color for Europe and North America, but this is where the association with black and funerals ends.
You might be surprised by this, as it is so ingrained within us to wear black to a funeral.
However, white is still often seen at funerals in these continents in the form of white shirts. Flowers at a funeral are also traditionally white rather than black.
In other continents and religions, white is the traditional funeral color.
Buddhists, for example, wear white to funerals as a sign of respect to the loved one passed.
Buddhists believe that the first three days after death should be full of positivity so that the deceased can transition from life to death peacefully. As white has more positive connotations than black, it is worn.
Another example is at Hindu funerals, white is the primary color. In many Asian cultures, white is also the preferred funeral color. This is especially true in China and Korea.
Should You Wear White To A Funeral?
Considering the fact that white is a typical funeral color, you can wear white to a funeral. It shouldn’t be too much of an issue for you to wear it.
However, you should definitely ask the family of the deceased before showing up in bright white.
White is a neutral color, so it should be approved by the family. However, if they say no to your request to wear white, you should respect their wishes and abide by their dress code.
If the family wishes that you would wear black, you can wear white accents on your primarily black attire.
For example, if you were to wear a suit, you could wear a white shirt and maybe a white tie. If you are wearing a black dress, you could wear white pantyhose and a white bag.
Bear in mind that if the family wants you to wear black though, your outfit should primarily be black with white as a secondary color.
What Is Inappropriate For A Funeral
When in doubt of what to wear, go with something plain and respectful. Unless the dress code calls for it, don’t wear loud patterns or neon colors.
Funerals are a time of remembrance and the focus should be on the departed, not your hot pink leopard print shirt. To play it safe, wear a neutral color, such as black or white, with limited patterns.
There are some exceptions to this rule, however, with more people now straying away from the typical funeral attire that has been around since the medieval times.
We have been to several funerals now where the dress code specifically asked us to wear bright colors or patterns.
This has either been put into place by the deceased before they died, or their family as a way of saying goodbye in a more heartfelt way.
If the funeral has a dress code, for example to wear an item of red clothing, make sure that you abide by this.
It shows that you respect the family and the departed to follow their wishes and that you care more about remembering a loved one than what you are wearing.
You can still wear white around the color that they have requested, such as a white dress with a red bag and accessories. The same goes for black, if you would prefer a more traditional attire.
How To Wear White To A Funeral
Once you have the go-ahead from the family that you are allowed to wear white, you now have to decide how you are going to do it so that you remain formal.
The simplest way to wear white to a funeral is to simply wear all white. This will show that you respect the family’s wishes and that you care enough to honor them with your presence.
Here are a few rules to keep in mind when wearing white to a funeral:
Avoid Casual Clothing
White clothes tend to be more casual than black clothing, as black is the smarter of the two colors. Slacks and leisurewear often come in white colors.
While the family might be okay with you wearing white to the funeral, they probably won’t be okay with you looking like you’re about to go on a run.
Find smart white clothes to wear only. This is why we suggested wearing a white shirt with black pants rather than all white.
Don’t Stand Out
Remember, the point of the funeral is to pay respects to a beloved person who is no longer with us. The point is not to stand out with your fashion statement.
A completely white three-piece suit isn’t going to go down well if the guests are staring at you rather than paying attention to the funeral.
Overall, it should be fine to wear white to a funeral or wake. In many countries, white is already a customary tradition at funerals.
However, make sure that you ask the family beforehand and remain respectful while doing so.
If the family allows you to wear white, make sure that it is formal wear and that you don’t stand out from the crowd too much.
Samoel Ovanessian is the founder and creator of StylishAlpha.com – a website dedicated to men’s fashion. As a proud owner of more than 200 ties, he loves digging through new clothing combinations for everyday use, formal events and even just for fun. You can read more about Samoel here