Clothes let us express ourselves and also help define us in other people’s eyes. Choosing what to wear to your funeral is a really simple way of making it personal. 

We look at some of the finer details to help you style your send-off. “The joy of dressing is an art.” - John Galliano, fashion designer.

Who is this guide for? 

  • Those curious about  the ‘dress code’ at their own funeral  
  • Anyone who wants to personalise their funeral  

Reading time:

 3 mins

What you should and shouldn't wear at your own funeral 

Mostly, anything goes. Literally! Unless you follow a faith tradition you don’t have to wear anything at all if you don’t want to. Although it’s more likely you will want to be dressed in something – especially if you think your neighbours would want to pay their last respects.

However there is one caveat: some materials can be harmful to the earth when buried and harmful to the atmosphere when cremated. Crematoria do have filtration systems to cope with emissions, but if cremation is the way you want to go it is worth asking your preferred crematorium if you’re unsure. Additionally as a rule of thumb, don’t plan on wearing anything you wouldn’t want to put on a bonfire in your own back garden.

Also if you plan on having a greener funeral choose clothing made from natural fibres. Avoiding synthetics. As natural woodland and meadow burial grounds are very strict about this requirement.

Lastly, if you wear glasses, plastic or otherwise, you can keep those on even if you plan on being cremated. The harm from such a small amount of plastic is negligible. But, you may want to think about donating your glasses to charity instead. 
Pair of glasses

A few ideas for what to wear to your funeral

So, what might you wear?
You could choose your Sunday best, a cosy nightie or set of pyjamas, football top, military uniform, a themed costume, or any other attire you can imagine. Don’t forget your shoes, accessories and underwear (unless you’re going commando). Keep in mind shoes may have to be removed before you leave for the crematorium, depending upon the material used in their manufacture like rubber-soles.

Maybe you’d prefer to keep things simple and wear a funeral gown supplied by the funeral director? A funeral gown is unisex; it looks like a satin nightdress and comes with a choice of plain, frilled or lace fronts, and is typically available in shades of white, pink, blue and yellow.

Lastly, It’s worth knowing that if you decide on a direct cremation or direct burial being a service with nobody present, you will be cremated or buried in whatever clothes you died in. This isn’t because of any legislative requirement. But purely down to the way funeral directors differentiate their services and the pricing of those services. And, after all, the ethos of a direct cremation or burial is to be the simplest of all funeral services with as little intervention as possible. 

Who would you like to wash and dress you?

Ritual washing is a feature of many faiths.

If this doesn’t apply to you and the idea of a stranger washing and dressing you is less than appealing, you have a few options.
Number 1

You could request that you remain as you are.

Number 2

You could request that a person of the same sex washes and dresses you.

Number 3

You could ask loved ones in advance if they would feel comfortable taking on this responsibility. It is known to be emotionally beneficial for those who have. Many funeral directors allow people to use their facilities and would be on hand to help.

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About the author 

Derek Thompson

Derek Thompson is a writer and author, who has written extensively about grief and the funeral industry. He thinks humour is a much-underrated commodity. And thanks to a mix-up, when his name was read out during a committal, instead of his brother’s, he has technically been to his own funeral.

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