Ask Allie: The Best Summer Funeral Attire

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I know it's a somber topic, but I live in a hot climate and I have a relative who is ill and in hospice. I realized today that I have no idea what is okay for a funeral in a VERY hot climate.

what to wear to a hot summer wedding - The Best Summer Funeral Attire featured by popular Washington DC fashion blogger, Wardrobe Oxygen


The most important thing to factor when dressing for a funeral, is dressing out of respect. First, consider the religion of the service, then dress in a way that shows you understand the formality of the situation and that you know you are not the subject of attention. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t wear it to church or to an office where it’s Business Attire (not Business Casual), it’s not appropriate for a funeral.

Can I wear sleeveless to a funeral?

These days, a sleeveless dress and bare legs is appropriate at most American funerals, especially when it’s a very hot climate. Consider a lightweight cardigan if there’s a service inside the house of worship and a hat to protect yourself from the sun at the grave site. If your shoulders are bared, your neckline should be very modest, the fit not too tight, and the hemline at the knee.

In your email, you mentioned a maxi dress and while it wouldn’t be inappropriate to wear a long skirt, many maxi dress styles these days are lightweight jersey and have low necklines. If you have one that is of a dressier fabric (cotton sateen, crepe jersey, linen, silk blend) and doesn’t show off your décolleté, it can work. Again, if you wouldn’t wear it to church or to work, I’d consider something else.

Can I wear pants to a funeral?

Pants are acceptable for less religious funerals, and can be far more comfortable in the heat. Linen trousers (not drawstring slouchy pants) with a silk or crepe shell is perfectly acceptable.

As for color, black is not necessary these days; as long as the color doesn’t scream “look at me!” it’s acceptable. Muted colors like navy, olive, plum, mauve, gray, taupe, and brown are acceptable. If you wear a print, it should be very subtle (watercolor prints, tone on tone). Again consider the religion before choosing the color; some only wear black, some wear white, and some encourage bright jewel tones.

As for fabric, as long as it’s not too casual (denim) or too formal (satin), it’s okay in such heat. Linen and cotton is acceptable if it’s in more formal of cuts and ironed before wearing.

Accessories as part of your summer funeral attire will set the tone for your outfit; keep the sparkly necklaces and statement shoes at home. A simple pair of leather shoes in a neutral, a delicate chain necklace or a strand of pearls, a leather bag free of adornments that complements the color of your outfit. If there is a grave site service, choose a wedge or flat shoe so your heels don’t sink into the grass. Though you may be seeing many people from your past, it’s not a high school reunion and not a time to show off your sartorial skills.

Finally, your summer funeral attire is not as important as your attendance. Few will even notice what you’re wearing; as long as you don’t dress to receive attention you will be just fine. My heart goes out to you and your family during this difficult time.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this article by Deirdre Sullivan I also feel it is important to show respect especially for the family and to show how much their loved one meant to someone.

  1. Great advice, Allie. 🙂 On a more general point, I think some negative commenters would do well to remember that people reading advice on the internet and asking questions of bloggers may be from all walks of life and different experience levels. Just because an answer seems obvious to you doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said for the less experienced. How else are they supposed to learn? Not everyone was blessed with good guidance growing up.

  2. Your response is spot on and I’m always impressed by the maturity and grace with which you answer questions and present yourself.

  3. One thing that set me off at my Dad’s funeral was the minister, a woman in her 30s, in flip-flops. She had on a black robe and I imagine she thought since she had that on that her feet didn’t matter.
    It mattered to me ;(

    I think shoes you’d wear to work, providing you don’t wear flip-flops at work, would be more respectful

      1. A fashion/beauty blog for ministers? I never thought of it but why not? These folks are on public view a lot. And their particular job requires a certain amount of of sartorial formality and restraint.


  4. I went to a funeral several years ago where the wife of the deceased wore a gray skirt suit with a bright purple shell because purple was her husband’s favorite color. I thought it was so touching. So, if you know your relative had a favorite color or item of clothing that she liked on you, I’d put my vote in for that (climate and formality willing). 🙂

  5. Just as another post mentioned, it’s always about choices, while being tasteful with style and class. Thanks, Allie, as always for your tips and advice.

    1. Seriously – LBDs vary wildly in style, fabric, design etc. You could easily wear a LBD and look offensively inappropriate if it was a dress designed more for cocktails or the races than a sombre formal occasion. Also, the reader was asking about dressing for very hot weather.

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