There is always a dress code for any occasion in life— even for funerals too.
As we pay our last respect to the deceased and show our support for the bereaved family, it is also important for us to pay attention to our clothing choices as they can be another way for us to mourn and convey our feelings of respect and sympathy.
That being said, deciding on appropriate attire for funerals can often be confusing and challenging. As expectations may vary across different religions and cultures in Singapore, Timeliss has specially curated a listicle for you, detailing what we should all be mindful of when attending funerals and memorial services.
- Avoid bright colours such as red, pink and yellow; neutral hues like white, black and grey are generally accepted.
- Opt for clothes with plain and conservative designs. For ladies especially, avoid revealing clothes such as mini-skirts, crop-tops and low-cut blouses as they are often deemed ill-fitting to the sombre occasion. Sportswear and activewear are also considered inappropriate for the solemnity of funerals.
- Casual wear is generally accepted for funerals held at void-decks and other casual settings. While wearing tailored pants and blazers is not a common sight in Singapore’s funeral services, it is still important that we dress smartly and presentably as a form of respect to the deceased and the bereaved family.
- Avoid extravagant jewelry or overly-done makeup. Remember, a funeral service is not an occasion which we want to draw unnecessary attention to ourselves. When in doubt, always check with the family what is the appropriate attire for attendees.
Buddhist/ Taoist/ Christian/ Catholic
The dress etiquettes of these religions largely conform to the rules listed above. While clothes of muted colours are generally accepted, the colour white is usually preferred at these funeral services when symbolizing mourners’ grief and solemnity.
If the deceased had left behind a long legacy filled with many children and grandchildren, there is also less restriction on the colour choices of attendees’ attires. This is because the Chinese believe that these individuals had lived life to the fullest and therefore, the end of their lives is worth celebrating and colours may be accepted in the attendees’ clothing choices. Nevertheless, mourners should still avoid the colour red completely. As the colour represents prosperity and joy in the Chinese culture, the wearing of red clothes at funerals may still be seen by others as inauspicious and offensive.
Muslims are generally required to wear the traditional hijab to funerals. Clothes with long sleeves, high-necklines and loose cutting are usually expected in the dress codes of Muslim women.
As some funeral services are held in the mosque, which requires attendees to remove their shoes before entering, it is important to wear socks and stockings in plain or dark colours. For those who enter bare-footed and have polished toe-nails, the colour too should be neutral and muted to fit the occasion.
For non-traditional Muslims and non-Muslims, they should wear conservative, dark-coloured clothes and women may even consider bringing along a headscarf to tie the hair and neck as a form of respect to the religion.
In Hindu services, black-coloured clothes are considered as inappropriate. Attendees should instead opt for the colour white in their attires. No head covering is expected of the attendees unless otherwise stated by the family.
While these are general guidelines for you to consider when attending funerals, you should always consult the family if there are specific dress codes expected from the attendees.
At the end of the day, we should remind ourselves that the purpose of the funeral is to mourn for the life lost and commemorate those who passed on. As the last respect for the deceased and the grieving family, it is the least that we can do by putting aside our fashion preferences and dressing presentably for the occasion.