Visitation/Funeral Attire

I think this was done back in January, but it came up recently in my life and I just wondered if this is common or just a function of small midwestern towns. More and more, I find that I am dressed more formally than at least half of the other people at visitations.

We were attending the visitation of a good friend’s mother. Three men were wearing jeans and ball caps. (I was taught that men just do not wear hats indoors, unless they’re just at the store or something.) The mother of the widower was wearing fairly short white shorts and a black tank top (which, by the way, would’ve look fairly innapropriate in any setting due to her outfit not being large enough to accommodate her size.)

I know that visitations are typically less formal than funerals, but I’ve even seen people wearing sweatpants. IMHO, it is in poor taste and downright disrespectful (unless, as in the January thread, there’s kind of a theme going based on what the individual was like in life.) To me, the only exception would be healthcare/nursing home workers dressed in their uniforms coming straight from work. Several women who had cared lovingly for my Grandpa came to his visitation dressed thusly and we were very touched.

What do you guys think? I really have no problems with nice jeans or slacks and a nice shirt for visitations, but faded blue jeans, t-shirs, caps and shorts just really rub me the wrong way!

I think that at the very least, funeral/visitation attire should be the best clothes you have for wearing in everyday life (meaning, not formalwear). If the best item of clothing you own is a suit (for men)/nice pantsuit/dress (for women), you wear that. If the best item of clothing you have is khakis, a funeral calls for your nicest pair, with a collared shirt.

Personally, I believe everyone should have a suit/nice dress in their closet for wearing to funerals, even if the only place you will ever wear them is to funerals, but I know there are people who just don’t feel comfortable in that level of “dress-up,” no matter where they are going.

I’ve also been surprised by this recently. I was amazed to see my own relatives dressed rather down at a visitation – I’m pointing out they’re my relatives so that it’s clear that I know this isn’t a regional difference or something, I know how we were raised to dress for a visitation. Apparently it didn’t take.

I don’t even know if I think people need to dress up for the visitation – many people are coming from work (or on their lunch hour) and I appreciate that they are taking the time to attend. So I would say work clothes are okay, provided that they are clean and neat. I would even go as far as to say jeans, paired with a nicer shirt, if that is what someone normally wears to work, and has the kind of job where it would be unacceptable to wear something dressier (like if the person works in a stockroom, I wouldn’t expect him to wear a suit to work just so that he could have it on for the visitation). I don’t think it’s asking too much to take off the baseball cap, and if at all possible, exchange sneakers/sandals for shoes.

I was at a wake and funeral last week and I was appalled by the way people where dressed. My immediate family was all in suits. But there were people at the funeral mass in shorts and tee shirts, which in my personal opinion is never appropriate in a house of worship.

I agree - it’s shocking how many people have been raised by wolves lately. I mean, the phrase is pay your respects.

Having been to two funerals in the past three weeks, I find that this is a new, very strong, pet peeve of mine. It is a god damn funeral. There is a dead person and their grieving family there. Show a little bit of respect by either learning how to tie a tie or hoist up a pair of pantyhose. When I went to my grandmother-in-law’s funeral and saw someone at the viewing in a halter top, I nearly bit through my tongue. When I saw someone at my father’s funeral in cutoff jeans and a polo shirt, I didn’t have to – the shock and anger rendered me speechless.

If you’re coming to a funeral or viewing, you are coming to pay respect. You are not going to the damn Dollar Tree to pick up some bargain shampoo and aluminum foil. Dress like it.

I live in a fairly conservative pocket in the Midwest, and visitation and funeral attire is roughly equivalent to “church clothes.” As someone else noted, the concept of “church clothes” has taken a hit of late, but it’s still going strong here.

I know/am related to far too many people, so I probably attend a visitation or funeral every couple of months on average. Mostly I see subdued (not necessarily black or very dark) skirts of an appropriate length on the women, although some wear pants. The men often wear suits and ties. Some men wear long sleeved shirts and ties, no jacket. Occasionally, you get a guy in khakis and a polo shirt. It’s less formal than the others, but no one minds as long as it’s not a shirt advertising beer.

I did attend a visitation in which one friend of the deceased showed up in overalls, a plaid shirt, and work boots. He apologized to the widow for his attire, and she graciously told him not to think of it again. I did not see one snide look or comment about him. It’s a small community, and we’re aware that they’re the absolute best clothes he has. He was clean and neat, and he removed his hat upon entering the funeral home.

In my opinion, his clothes and behavior were perfectly appropriate. He simply does not have “church clothes” or their equivalent, but wanted very much to pay his respects to his friend and the widow.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t mind if someone doesn’t dress to the hilt for a funeral if they’re being respectful and have the right intentions. It does irk me when someone is inappropriately dressed because they a) want to shock people or b) simply don’t bother.

I come from small-town Ohio, and yes, there are people who show up like this for funerals and weddings. Having, by now, lived in both Chicago and New York, I find it really odd. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see people at my wedding in jeans and polo shirts, but I kind of was.

Now, some people don’t have a whole lot of money, and I know that. I’m pretty sensitive to that. It’s very hard for a family with three kids to always have a nice outfit for each kid at any given time–kids grow out of stuff quickly and ruin nice clothes easily. So I’ll give kids a pass. But for adults, honestly, I don’t get it. It’s pretty cheap to buy some slacks or khakis and a button-down at Wal-Mart or Target. Or a skirt/nice pants and a blouse for a woman. Hit the sale racks and you can buy a whole outfit for well under $50. (My stepdad is a pastor and has a closet full of $10 Wal-Mart button-down shirts.) One outfit like this, if only worn a few times a year, will last a few years at least. It’s worth it, IMHO. Maybe some people just don’t realize how easy it would be to have one church-appropriate outfit in their wardrobes.

I don’t intend for this to be personal. The gentleman in the post just above mine was being respectful, which is what really counts. He wasn’t just clueless, like most of the under-dressed people I see. Even if I could only afford a small wardrobe, I’d make sure to squeeze in one outfit that I could wear for those “dress up” occasions.

Hell, I keep a “funeral outfit” in my closet – a conservative dress with conservative matching jewelry, but still something that I would wear otherwise – JUST to wear to funerals, because nothing else in my closet is conservative or dressy enough for such a somber occasion; my wardrobe is pretty crazy, and so is most of my jewelry. When an outfit has “made the rounds” of various-social-circle funerals – this side of the family, that group of friends – I buy another one. I’m on my second one in maybe fifteen years. Mr. S always wears a suit, though he rarely wears one otherwise.

I agree that barring financial problems, there’s no excuse for being a slob at a funeral.

Biblical clothing only at my memorial service please.

Absolutely no bathrobes or sheets allowed, so plan ahead.

Veils on women permitted. Limit of 7.

Coin headdresses are tacky, tacky, tacky.

Footwear optional.

No casting of lots inside the main church building or the parish hall.

Gentlemen, gird your loins.

Nice dresses or slacks for women, and slacks w/dress shirt for men is the least I expect at a viewing or funeral. This being the rural (redneck) South, though, what I see is jeans, “dress shorts” on older women, young girls with muffin-tops and tanks or halters, flip-flops, guys with baggy, saggy shorts, sneakers, cow-boy boots, and all sorts of lovely things.

FYI: there are some nurses who think that going to a funeral or wake in “dress whites” (we have no official uniform, like the military, but white is our traditional color) and not scrubs is a sign of respect. I think that if a group of nurses or health care people did so, the response would be appropriate and appreciative (even if they came in scrubs). Or if the deceased was a plumber, so all the other plumbers came with tool belts and butt cleavage (I’m kidding)… :wink: Seriously, I can see something like lab coats being ok, but not beach wear (unless the dearly departed was a surfer or similar), not pj’s not grunge wear.
Everyone has some type of “better” clothing in their closet. To not wear it to show your respect to the family etc is just wrong.

Huge pet peeve of mine, too. Ugh.


I guess I’ll be the dissenting opinion. I was very grateful for those friends and family members who took the time out of their busy day to visit me at each of my parent’s wakes. I didn’t care one iota what they were wearing. It wasn’t a sign of disrespect to me at all.

What happens if you fly in to visit a sick relative and the visit turns out to involve a funeral? Can you rent a dark men’s suit suitable for a funeral? (Once I was told I should fly in just in case, although the relative ended up surviving. But as I was packing to leave, I stood in my closet wondering if I should take a suit just in case. I wondered how I’d handle it if the person passed after I flew in and I hadn’t brought a suit.)

When Dad died Mom told us to wear whatever we wanted. Dad wasn’t buried in a suit, he hadn’t owned one in years, and made us promise to bury him in his work pants, button up shirt and sweater he wore for all “special” events.

We did dress up anyways - just our “Sunday Go To Meetin’” clothes.

However, his sister in law appeared in a purple velour track suit. One of my cousins had a raggedy sweatshirt on. Many people in jeans, which was fine if they were clean and they had on a decent shirt. A few people wore hats inside, but that didn’t last long. My Dad hated it when people wore hats inside. So if any of us saw someone attempt to wear a hat in to pay respects we told them to remove it.

The best dressed people, IMO, were the guys from his old employer. He worked for a certain company for over 50 years. Every guy, employed or retired, had on the company shirt.

And the pallbearers all wore their hunting gear.

It went with his wishes, but yet we were tsked a few times for not wearing dresses (It was 7F!) by some of the older folks.

Does it sometimes make you wonder what those same people wear for a job interview?

My father’s funeral was over 10 years ago. I remember the friends who came to grieve with our family. But I don’t remember anything about how anybody was dressed.

Worrying about the clothes people wore seems incredibly shallow.

When anyone on my mother’s side dies, I dress very nicely - I have number of appropriate dresses and slacks (in Minnesota its often slacks, particularly if there is any chance you’ll be standing graveside in March). But they are practical, non-judging people and chances are good a funeral on that side will have a few people show up in jeans.

When anyone on my father’s side dies, I make a special effort to dress VERY nicely. I take extra time with my hair. I make sure that my nails are painted and I have the complete set of makeup on. That my purse matches my shoes and that my coat also matches. This is not effort I make in every day life, but my father’s side notices these sorts of things - and finds it rude and disrespectful if you don’t make that effort for a funeral. (Hey, they want matching flip flops if you go to a pool party - yeah, they are shallow people, but you don’t pick your relatives. And I understand their code and am not going to push it at a funeral or a wedding).

I absolutely agree. My husband is the scruffiest looking guy around (and yes, he’s always wearing that fucking cap). Even HE has a (very nice!) suit to wear to weddings and funerals. And these are the only occasions where he ditches the cap. I’m turned off by the ultra-casual look at funerals, but times have changed. I don’t think the rules count anymore.