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What to Wear to a Memorial Service

If you've ever attended a funeral, you've likely noticed that the attire is pretty standard throughout. Everyone attending typically wears formal suits and dresses, all in black, as is customary. However, if you're invited to a memorial service it can be difficult to know what's appropriate to wear and what's too casual. If you're asking yourself, "What do you wear to a memorial service?" and are having difficulty nailing down an outfit, look no further!

Before deciding what to wear at a memorial service

Knowing what to wear to a memorial service will depend on a few factors, such as the family's specific requests, the weather, the location, and your comfort levels. Taking these factors into account will help you choose a memorial service outfit that's comfortable and respectful.

Identify the location of the service

While memorial services are generally considered less traditional or formal than a funeral service, it is important to first identify what type of memorial service it will be. A religious service will have a different dress code than a more casual gathering. It's also important to figure out where the service is taking place as this can give you a clue as to what to wear to the service. For example, if the memorial service is taking place in a church, you'd wear different attire than you might at a memorial service held in a park or at the beach.

Find out the family's memorial service attire requests

Many families will make specific requests for what they would like mourners to wear to the memorial service. In some cases, the family may request that everyone dress in a certain color or style of clothing. They may also request that attendees wear a specific item or piece of clothing, in remembrance of the person who passed away. If the family has made specific requests, be sure to follow them as best as you can.

You can typically find these requests on the memorial website in the event information section or on the memorial service invitation. If there's no guidance given on how to dress for the memorial service but you're still uncomfortable, you can consider reaching out to another person attending for guidance.

Consider the weather

Another factor you should take into account when deciding what to wear to a memorial service is the weather. If the service is taking place in the winter outdoors, your memorial service outfit will obviously be much different than a memorial service taking place at a park in the summer.

How to dress for a traditional memorial service

Now that you've considered the family's wishes, the weather, and the setting, you can start planning your memorial service attire.

Memorial services are generally less formal and traditional than funeral services, and the clothing you'd wear to the service generally reflects that.

For men, traditional memorial service outfit ideas include:

  • A dress shirt and dress pants
  • A sweater and dress pants
  • Khakis and a button-down shirt
  • Dark colored top and nice jeans, paired with dress shoes

For women, memorial service outfit ideas include:

  • A dress
  • A skirt and blouse
  • Dress pants and a blouse

Colors are generally darker or muted colors rather than bright colors. Consider a similar attire to what you'd wear to an interview and try to incorporate darker colors to honor the loss.

What to wear to a casual memorial service

Casual memorial services are becoming more and more popular as they provide a more relaxed setting for mourners to gather and remember the deceased.

For men, casual memorial service outfit ideas include:

  • A polo shirt
  • A dress shirt (tucked in)
  • Khakis or nice jeans
  • Dress shoes or loafers

For women, casual memorial service outfit ideas include:

  • A sundress
  • Skirt or nice jeans
  • A blouse or sweater
  • Dress shoes or flats

Again, should avoid wearing bright colors and instead stick with darker or muted colors. An exception to this is if you're attending a celebration of life or the family has requested brighter colors. Celebrations of life are becoming more popular as they provide a more uplifting atmosphere to remember the deceased.

What not to wear to a memorial service

There are some clothing items and styles that you should avoid wearing to a memorial service, no matter what the dress code is. Keep in mind, if the family specifically requests these items, you should acquiesce to those requests.

Some examples of what not to wear to a memorial service include:

  • Torn, heavily distressed, or dirty clothing
  • Crop tops or extremely revealing clothing
  • Athleisure or sports attire

You'll also want to avoid wearing anything that's too revealing or flashy. In general, it’s typically a safe bet to dress conservatively and modestly for a memorial service.

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Last updated August 18, 2022
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