February 23, 2024
Wearing white to a funeral can be a controversial choice. In this article, we explore the history and etiquette of funerals and answer the question – can you wear white to a funeral? We offer practical advice for those unsure about what to wear, discuss the cultural significance of white in funerals, and provide a stylist's perspective on pulling off the look without offending.


Losing a loved one is never easy, and attending the funeral is often the last way to pay your respects. Dressing appropriately for the occasion can be challenging, especially when it comes to choosing the right colors to wear. Many people debate whether white is an appropriate color to wear to a funeral. In this article, we will explore the history and etiquette of funeral fashion and answer the question – can you wear white to a funeral?

Funeral Etiquette: Is it Appropriate to Wear White?

Many people subscribe to traditional dress codes for funerals. Black clothing is the most common attire for mourners. However, in recent times, people have started to embrace more vibrant colors. While there are no hard and fast rules that dictate what you should wear to a funeral, it is essential to show respect for the deceased and their grieving family. Dressing conservatively and appropriately is a sign of empathy and compassion.

Why Wearing White to a Funeral is a Controversial Choice

There is a long-standing belief that white is a color reserved for happy occasions. As a result, some people feel that wearing white to a funeral is culturally insensitive. Others believe that wearing any color other than black, grey, or navy blue is rude and disrespectful.

In some cultures, wearing white to a funeral is acceptable. For instance, in Chinese culture, white is a symbol of mourning and is often the color of choice at funerals. In parts of India, white is the traditional color of mourning. It is essential to be mindful of cultural differences when attending a funeral.

Breaking Funeral Fashion Rules: The Debate Over White Attire

Despite the cultural and traditional significance of wearing darker colors at funerals, there has been a shift in recent years towards more colorful attire. White has emerged as a trend for funeral attire, and some feel it’s a suitable choice. However, others remain vehemently opposed.

The debate around wearing white to a funeral centers around whether or not it is respectful to the deceased and their family. Some feel that white symbolizes purity and innocence, which may seem inappropriate given the somber circumstances. Others view white as a way of expressing hope and the promise of new life beyond death.

The Dos and Don’ts of Funeral Attire: Can You Wear White?

If you are unsure about what to wear to a funeral, it is always best to err on the side of caution and dress conservatively. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing your funeral attire:

Do choose understated colors. If you are still uncomfortable about wearing white, opt for muted colors like beige, grey, or navy blue. Black is not the only appropriate color for a funeral.

Don’t wear anything too revealing or flashy. Your outfit should not draw attention to you but should be a sign of respect for the deceased.

Do consider the fabric and cut of your clothing. Your outfit should be comfortable and allow you to move around freely.

Don’t wear anything that may make noise. Your outfit should not distract from the service or draw unnecessary attention.

The Cultural Significance of Wearing White to Funerals

White has a rich cultural history and has been used as a symbol of mourning in many cultures for centuries. In many East Asian cultures, white is a sign of mourning and is often worn during funerals. In parts of Africa, white is associated with purity and is a common funeral wear.

In some parts of Western culture, wearing white at a funeral is gaining popularity as an expression of positivity and hope. In these instances, white is a way to celebrate the life of the deceased rather than mourn their passing.

White Funeral Attire: A Stylist’s Perspective on Pulling off the Look Without Offending

If you choose to wear white to a funeral, there are several ways to do so in a way that is respectful and appropriate.

Do opt for modest, understated white clothing. Avoid white garments that are revealing or too flashy.

Don’t wear too much white. Consider pairing white clothing with other muted colors to create a more understated look.

Do consider the fabric and cut of your clothing. Choose fabrics that are comfortable and appropriate for the occasion.

Don’t wear white shoes or accessories. Instead, opt for black or other neutral colors.


In conclusion, whether or not you should wear white to a funeral depends on a variety of factors. Traditionally, darker, more conservative clothing is appropriate for funerals. However, as attitudes towards funeral traditions shift, so do the rules around funeral attire. When choosing what to wear to a funeral, it is crucial to be mindful of the cultural and traditional nuances of the event. Ultimately, your clothing should express empathy and respect for the deceased and their family.

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