Chic Critique :: What to Wear to a Funeral

Later this week, I am heading to a funeral for my husband’s grandma and I have no idea what to wear.
If I was giving someone else advice on what to wear to a funeral, I would say:
1. Be comfortable. This day will be hard enough without you having to worry about your clothes.
2. Wear something with pockets and/or bring a purse. Tissue storage is a must. And sunglasses, of you want to hide red eyes.
3. Wear subdued colors and patterns. This isn’t the time to draw attention to yourself. There is no need to stick to strictly all black, but you don’t want to walk in wearing a bright cheery pattern. You should blend in.
4. Layers are good as well. Even if its cold outside, nerves might have you sweating. Likewise, even in summer, a funeral home or place of worship might be chilly. Or, conversely, we went to a funeral last year in July in a beautiful church with no a/c at all.

So I looked in my closet and I realized that all of my black dresses are thoroughly summer-y. And my clothing budget this month is shot. (Darn you, Boden sale!) I came up with a two options in my closet – and I can’t figure out which to wear.

Now, this one may win simply because it involves pants. Boston in January is no joke, y’all. But I’m concerned that the ruffles are too… ruffley. Are they too much for a funeral? I don’t think I need to wear all black, necessarily, but I’m not sure about this top. I’m wondering if I should swap out a white button down or something…

I think this is probably the more conservative of the two. It’s a tweed shift dress with a cardigan, tights and ankle boots.

Help, Chic Readers! Which do you think I should wear?

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About Melissa

Written by Melissa Angert, editor of this fashion blog and author of Girlymama. You can also find her on Twitter as Melissa Angert. She is a mom of 3 living in Providence.


  1. I would go with option number 2…

  2. #2. the gray makes it not all black, which is good. The blue is too bright and ruffly. Though I love it otherwise. see you tomorrow.

  3. #2 is more appropriate, I think. both are lovely!

  4. i think either would be fine but 2 would be more appropriate seeing as the blue looks a tad bright. maybe pair the dress with knee high boots instead for more warmth??

  5. I like option #1.
    I think the blue is lovely and the ruffles add some cheer to the rest of the black. A funeral is a sad day, but if you consider that it is also a celebration of someone’s life and accomplishments, I think, your blue will help in adding a bright side to the sea of black that is bound to be in attendance.

    You will be appropriate in either outfit and I’m sure the family will be grateful you are there.

  6. I would go with 2. Although I love your top in the first one, I guess ruffles gives the appearance of…fun? Another top would be ok though.

  7. #2 is more appropriate

  8. I would go with #2, or #1 with a less ruffly top. I don’t think the blue is too bright, but the ruffles seem too fun for a funeral. That gray shift dress is lovely though, and maybe some thick tights and/or boots would make it a little warmer?

  9. I like option #2. I think it is conservative and respectful. The ruffles in option #1 remind me of a party. I like the other suggestion that #1 would like nice with a different blouse.

  10. So this is your husband’s grandmother, right? In my family (maybe we’re weird?) funerals for elders like this usually turn into a celebration — we’re able to laugh, tell great stories, etc. I imagine she must have been quite old and probably lived a very full life. What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that the ruffles certainly aren’t too much. Wear the one that is most comfortable!!

    (I don’t mean to undermine how much you all will miss her!)

    • no, i totally understand what you mean, aimee! i think that this will indeed be a celebration – she was such an amazing woman who lead such a full life. thanks for reminding me of that too!!

  11. Tiffany H says:

    So sorry for your loss. I attended my grandmother’s funeral just this past Saturday so I can relate to the ‘what to wear’ dilemma. I live in southern California so I had a few more options than you do since it was in the low 70’s. I think outfit #2 is more appropriate for this funeral. I like outfit #1 but think the blouse is too bright; if you change the top I think it will work. Since you’re in cold Boston just make sure to wear very warm and cozy tights if you wear the dress. Do you have tall boots you can wear? If so you might see how they look with the dress as I think they’ll keep you a little warmer than the short boots. Again, my condolences to your family.

  12. Do you also have to attend the wake the night before? For me I’d do #1 for the wake and #2 for the funeral, especially if it’s church based.

  13. Cyndi Spivey says:

    Melissa you look beautiful in both! but I would probably go with the second one. I’m so sorry for you families loss.

  14. Christine says:

    Sent you a message on FB answering some of the questions/comments.

  15. either/or. i like them both, and I honestly think they’re both appropriate. even though it’s funeral, there’s nothing wrong with a splash of color. In fact, I’m toying with the idea of wearing purple tights. but that’s just me. 😉

  16. Melissa, I LOVE the purple/blue ruffles!! And if this funeral were not in stoic old New England (I can say that, I’m a New Englander), I would probably choose it. We live about 2 hours outside of Boston and I have to say that I still find the Boston area to be rather conservative, especially the older generation. If it were me, I’d be concerned about ending up feeling uncomfortable because of unintentionally making others uncomfortable with #1 (not sure that makes sense). #2 is seems more conservative — maybe take it up a notch with a statement piece of jewelry?
    Also, right now, we’re pretty darn warm here in New England. We’ve had several days in the high 40s and low 50s lately — you might not be as chilly as you expect

  17. #1 The day is going to be sad enough I’d try to lighten the families burdens of the loss with a little color. The blue isn’t too bright that it’s party material and not to dark to be saddening.