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Whether you’re curious about the general rules of what to wear to a funeral or you’re already shopping for a black funeral dress, you’re in the right place to find clarity about the right outfit. First and foremost, be respectful of family culture. Fashion psychologist Don Karen and author of Dress Your Best Life coined the term “fashion situational code switching”, where people alternate between different styles depending on the context and social setting. According to Karen’s theory, “switching” should be used at funerals, regardless of personal preferences, to show courtesy to the bereaved. You may need to make a quick call, so you have all the information you need to get dressed. “As a colorful woman, culture is very important to me,” says Karen. “I went to the Caribbean funeral – where you shouldn’t wear black because the event is a celebration of life – funerals, political funerals, and high-profile funerals in America. You need to know the situation. Are you a young person attending the funeral of an older generation? You may want to wear more conservative clothing. ”

That being said, there is still room to customize your look, so you can show off some personality, be it your shoes, a bag or passionate jewelry. Karen calls these “focal accessories” or items that have psychological value and can be worn repeatedly. “Perhaps it’s a legacy or a ring, or something that is grounded and able to comfort you when you’re in a setting that is sad or disturbing,” he explains.

While these basic tips provide a basis for creating your wardrobe, there is much more to learn about dressing up for a funeral, so that you are classy and empathetic. Up front, we tapped three more fashion psychologists to break down the basics and guide us through the proper funeral attire.

What to wear to a funeral

Get started easy. Since black is generally considered appropriate, as it indicates a desire for emotional protection (more in the future), a plain black dress without fluff or excessive embellishment is generally an acceptable option. Slacks, black opaque tights, boots or loafers and a black jacket are recommended, where potential “dopamine dressing” is not something that can be demonstrated. Anabel Maldonado – Founder and CEO of Psykhe, a platform that uses psychology to personalize an e-commerce shopping experience – warns against bold colors or patterns. “Bright colors and prints, such as floral or polka dots, are pleasing in quality, and the service laments the loss of life, so this is not the time to reflect joy,” he says.

Why do people wear black at funerals?

The color black is socially and culturally associated with mourning and mourning, and it is considered traditional for funerals in many parts of Europe and North America. Fashion psychologist Shakila Forbes-Bell and author of Big Dress Energy point to Britain in the Edwardian era, when women wore shades for a certain length depending on how close they were to the departure. Similar “rules” were introduced in the United States in the 1800’s, when some women wanted to continue to be identified as widows. Similarly, Professor Caroline Meyer noted that during the Roman Empire, the dark Togas were worn as a symbol of mourning and reflection. And in the Victorian era, black jewelry became a popular way to remember loved ones.

The easiest reason to wear black today is because it is a sophisticated, strong color, but it also lacks uniqueness. So, when a lot of people wear it, it can help them to blend together as a group and feel less alone. As far as other colors go for funerals, Maldonado names are white, neutral or algae green, as they reflect nature and the life cycle. Meanwhile, Meyer and Karen point out that other cultures emphasize different colors and their meanings (in South America, purple is also worn, and in Thailand, only widows wear purple). Finally, the family of the deceased may ask the funeral participants to wear certain shades in honor of the living personality of the loved one. If it is not indicated in the invitation or announcement, call is polite.

Appropriate funeral dress code

As a general rule, Mair adds a funeral dress code that you can wear for a job interview. These include dark suits, jackets, modest dresses, skirts or trousers with a sophisticated blouse, jacket or coat. Still, Forbes-Bell and Maldonado highly recommend asking a family member about the dress code, albeit not in the last days of the ceremony, as they may be overwhelmed. Maldonado suggested gentle dialogue to eliminate any uncertainty, such as: “I want to make sure I dress appropriately and respect the tone of service – which dress code is recommended?”

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