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What to Wear to a Funeral | EP 74

Fashion Crimes Podcast

Release Date: 01/14/2022

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It is the beginning of the new year. And we have been getting a lot of requests for what to wear for this, what to wear for that? What should I do? What should I get? Should I buy something new? Should I wear something I already have? And unfortunately, the number one question Holly get’s is this:

What To Wear To A Funeral?

Listen to the new episode now here! 

This week, your favorite stylist Holly Katz has been watching Golden Girls like it's her job this past week. Like EVERYONE. #DUH

Everyone loves those Girls! Holly loves them, all of her gays love them, Nolan loves them. It's just been a really sad week. We have lost a national treasure.

Host sidebar: 

“Miss Betty White, you aged with so much grace, and how lucky we were to have you in our homes day after day! Throughout your career, you have honestly been an example to many.  You are a pal, and a confidant, especially to animals. And you made us laugh with your innocence and your authenticity. You humbled us. You are the truest example that age really is just a number. We can all only hope to have a life as full as yours. 

May you rest in peace, Miss Betty White, and as we say in the Jewish religion, may your memory be a blessing. Thank you, Betty White. Thank you for being a friend.”

By the way, the main topic we are covering today is the American funeral. And regardless of religion, this is about what's expected and appropriate at these things. Day, or night. It does not matter. The dress code is the same. 

Did you know that this is honestly one of the most commonly asked subjects on Google?

Because again, a lot of people don't know what to wear.

“Use your best judgment. Does that mean you should wear neon to a funeral? Of course not. You're not supposed to draw attention to yourself, because this event is not about you.

It's about paying respect to the family. You are supposed to blend in, however, you do not have to sacrifice your style, or try to dress like someone that you're not.” – Holly Katz, personal stylist

FASHION FACT: The dress code for a funeral is business casual. 

We will say that again: The dress code for a funeral is BUSINESS CASUAL, even since before COVID-19. Holly has been yelling about this for years.

What is business casual, you might ask?  Let us break it down for you into two simple terms. Wear this. Not that.

For context, we are going to give you a few examples: 

  • Wear This: Slacks that are non-denim. Not That: Leggings. 
  • Wear This: A dress. Not That: A very short skirt that's mid-thigh.
  • Wear This: A collared shirt. Not That:  A freaking sports jersey, Mkay? 

It's pretty simple. What you would wear to an office for business casual means you're dressed. If you want to, you can wear a jacket, a skirt, a tie perhaps, or wear heels. 

Business Casual Dress Code

Wear This:

  • Natural Makeup
  • Tights or Stockings
  • Dress Shoes
  • Dress Belt
  • Dress Socks
  • Sports Coats
  • Dress Coat
  • Minimal Patterns

Don’t Wear This:

  • Stained or ripped clothing
  • Clothing that is too tight
  • No undershirt
  • Ill-fitting undergarments
  • Too much jewelry
  • Heels over 4-inches high
  • Excessive perfume or cologne

So, put it on your bulletin board, put it on your bathroom mirror, and God knows if you know somebody who needs this list, feel free to pass it on. #youarewelcome

Business casual means you do not wear slouchy, sloppy clothing that you would wear on a regular day just kickin' around.

You should wear tailored, structured clothing that looks presentable in a business environment. 


If somebody dies tomorrow, you have to have something to wear. Most women usually say, “Oh, this is my funeral dress,” which is fine. It just doesn't have to be the only option that you have to wear. And honestly, your “funeral dress” should be something you can wear not just to funerals, but to other events, too.

You should have something in your wardrobe that functions for many things, and not just have one thing set aside for a funeral. (Hopefully, you don't go to that many funerals!)


First off, we want to talk about the color black.  The old rules about color are dead. Having certain colors that complement your skin tone are always good to know. But again, this doesn't mean you can't wear whatever color you want to. 

If you have very fair skin does that mean you can't wear pink? No. If you have really bright fire orange, red hair, and freckles, does that mean you can't wear orange or red? Of course not. 

It's ridiculous. But in the 80s image consultants use to “do your colors,” where you would be defined as warm or cool and they would show you what colors look best on you, which is actually helpful. However, in Holly’s opinion, it's subjective, there is no color that one certain person cannot wear. But you should use your best judgment.

Some funerals are actually called a "celebration of life," which is a really nice twist on making people appreciate the life that someone has lived, and not wallow in sorrow that they are now gone. It usually means the dress code is the same: you should try to look your best.

Read the room: It's a funeral.  Find a way to be respectful, not stand out and stick with business casual.

If you really want to see some amazing and perfect examples of funeral attire, jump over to Holly’s Pinterest board now!

Of course, there is always the traditional black dress, which is on the Pinterest board, too. But there are lots of other options as well: 

  • Pantsuits
  • Skirts
  • Trousers
  • Blouses
  • Sweaters
  • Jackets

If you decide that you don't want to wear black, Holly has lots of other really great outfits that you can put together to go to a funeral. And then you can rotate them throughout your wardrobe. 


Want to know a real fashion crime? Kids who have not dressed appropriately at events, such as a funeral. 

Get your kids on board with the dress code.

Holly actually researched this on a couple of different funeral home websites – and they have it right there in black and white:  Get children and teenagers on board with the dress code!


No sports jerseys, no logos, no shorts, or no stupid crap teenagers like to wear. #sorrynotsorry 


We understand you have to pick your battles, obviously. But this is one that they should follow by your gleaming example. In short, if you're not dressed appropriately, they will not be either.


Don't trip on the details of wearing too much or too little jewelry and trying to coordinate matching stuff. Period.  

When you pick out an outfit, do not get hung up on what earrings match your necklace. At this age (the Golden 50s), you should have regular jewelry, whether it's real or not, that goes with everything.

Your outfit should flow and be easy to look at. You should start with a blank canvas and work around it. It’s just like baking or making a recipe. You have to have the right ingredients to get the final product to come out correctly the way it should. 

Number One: you should have the right undergarments. This is the first step in building a great outfit.

Number Two: Do you want to wear pants? A dress? Or a skirt? Say for example, if you decide that you want to wear a pantsuit, which is perfectly acceptable and business casual to wear to a funeral. Picking a blouse that will complement the jacket that you're wearing is easy. You can wear a solid or you can wear a pattern. You can even wear a sweater underneath your blazer - that's a great look too. 

If you want to wear a belt, that would count as an accessory. All you need to do now is pick some jewelry, a shoe, and a bag. That's a complete outfit. 

Say, for example, you wanted to wear a scarf instead of a necklace. That's another way to accessorize! You can also tie a scarf to the handle of your handbag. That too counts as an accessory. 

Just know you don't have to worry about being matchy-matchy. Your earrings don't have to match your necklace, they don't have to match your bracelet, and they don't have to match your ring. Do not get caught up in those details. 

Costume jewelry should be elevated and mixed with real. Statement earrings, a chunky necklace, or layered necklaces are great ways to mix and match.


You already know that less is more, and that is definitely the case with shoes. A lot of people cannot wear heels - which is completely fine! You can wear a wedge or wear a low block heel. These provide more support than a stiletto, and FYI: No one should be wearing sneakers. No one, no one, no one. 

If you prefer not to wear heels, then you need to get some really nice gorgeous upscale designer flats - which every company in the world makes. Fabulous examples on the Pinterest board. 

A neutral color is always easiest, but an animal print, like a snake print or a cheetah print is considered a neutral as well. If you're not there yet, try a metallic shoe like a silver or bronze. It's a great way to elevate a solid color suit, and in the words of Stacy London: 

“All metallics are neutrals. So it is absolutely fine to mix gold and silver; you just want it to look like it has purpose.” — Stacy London, stylist


Do not make these mistakes: 

  • Try your clothes on before your event. Make sure your old stand-by outfit doesn’t have a stain on it. Make sure your clothes still fit! Maybe you have a suit, but the pants don’t fit anymore. That is ok, you can still wear the jacket!
  • Have the correct undergarments. If you haven't been fitted for a bra lately, then please, by the love of God, do that.
  • And, if you haven't gotten a new pair of shoes lately that are nice enough to wear to a funeral, then go out and get some new shoes. 


Again, all of these examples are on the Pinterest board. Make sure you check it out and just know you're not alone. 

If you have no idea what you're doing, or what you're wearing, when it comes to being a guest at a funeral, it's okay. It's not a big deal. 

The first step is awareness. It doesn't matter that you don't know.  If you don't know -  find out! Just ask  - and let's get you dressed right.

You’re Welcome!

- The FASHION CRIMES PODCAST, with your favorite personal stylist, Holly Katz 

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And if you find yourself in a fashion pickle - reach out, send Holly a DM today!

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