Funeral Attire: Back in Black

Posted on July 17, 2017 by Manny Godoy under Funerals, Memorials
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Although the AC/DC song, Back in Black won’t make it onto the musical selection list for most memorials, the lyrics reference one of the most common questions asked about memorial services: “What should I wear to the funeral?”

Funeral Attire History in Brief

  • Mourning and special clothing have long gone together – dating back to biblical times, when mourners wore sackcloth, which was made of goat hair.
  • Wearing sackcloth was an outward expression of the grief; and is said to be a direct antecedent of modern-era mourning attire.
  • Historians believe the tradition of wearing black at funerals dates to at least the time of the Roman Empire. Ancient Romans would wear a dark toga, known as a togapulla, to mourn the loss of a loved one. 
  • This tradition persisted in England throughout medieval times, when women were expected to wear black caps and veils if their husbands died.
  • By the late 19th century, black clothing became so closely associated with mourning that any woman who dared wear black while not in mourning was considered “dangerously eccentric.”

Memorial services circa 2017 don’t require black attire. But it’s usually a safe option, unless family and friends provide specific instructions to the contrary. At Foothill Funeral & Cremation Services, we cater to clients of all tastes and styles. So, over the years, we have seen funeral attire ranging from ultra conservative to super hip and modern…and everything in between. Since funerals can range in tone from joyful, lighthearted life celebrations to highly liturgical, formal funeral ceremonies, wardrobe options also run the gamut. To help you prepare, we have a few suggestions:

  1. Ask the hosts. Sometimes, doing so is impractical. So, don’t stress about contacting family and friends. Don’t do detective work to secure contact information. But if you are already in touch, don’t be afraid to ask about attire.
  2. Blend in. This isn’t about you. It’s about the one who has passed. So, dress to honor the deceased rather than to make a statement. Although you might be a flashy dresser, the most important style note we can offer is to defer to the family. If they prefer a somber, quiet ceremony, you are better off wearing conservative clothes than making a style statement.
  3. Respect the region. In Southern California, where Foothill Funeral & Cremation is located, people tend to dress down. The laid-back LA lifestyle and warm climate have served to dictate funeral fashion that takes weather into account. On the east coast, however, mourners are more likely to arrive at a funeral dressed in black from head-to-toe. So, if you are traveling to a funeral, check with the family.
  4. Reference the color wheel. If it isn’t practical to connect with family members for wardrobe tips, consider the following meaning behind popular colors:

Color Theory

  • Red: the color of fire and blood, indicates energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.
  • Orange: combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It suggests joy, sunshine, and the tropics. It can also represent enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement and stimulation.
  • Yellow: the color of sunshine, it connotes joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.
  • Green: suggests nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety. Dark green evokes thoughts about money.
  • Blue: the color of the sky and sea, so associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.
  • Purple: combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple equals royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance. Purple means wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic.
  • White: associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. White suggests perfection.
  • Black: associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery.

Given the above, it’s little wonder black remains the predominant wardrobe choice at funerals.

About Foothill Funeral & Cremation

Named San Gabriel Valley “Reader’s Choice” for 2017, Foothill Funeral & Cremation Services has a beautiful showroom and offices located at 402 West Baseline in Glendora. We proudly serve the San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Basin, Orange County and the Inland Empire. With years of experience in the mortuary industry, we have worked hard to build a reputation of quality, sincerity and trust. We would be honored to help you at your time of need or in the future. Call today (626) 335-0615 or drop by our showroom.

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