Can You Wear White to a Funeral?

Is black the only color to wear to a funeral? Let’s figure this out.

Written by Kate Holmsy. Updated on Can You Wear White to a Funeral

A funeral is sad, and it’s always stressful for those who have to participate in it. However, people often feel uncertain about how to dress appropriately, not to look or seem offensive to those who have lost their loved one.

Traditionally, in Western countries and Europe, black is a color to wear to funerals. But what about other colors, for example, white? Should you wear white to a funeral?

In this article, we will speak about wearing white to a funeral. You will learn whether it is inappropriate to wear white to a funeral. Also, we will explain what this color means when being worn for this kind of occasion.

In addition, we will explain the overall meaning of a white color when it is used in clothes.

Is It OK to Wear White to a Funeral?

Traditionally, dark colors are used for clothes worn at funerals. Dark colors like black, gray, navy blue, and brown show your sorrow for the family over their loss. So these colors are all considered appropriate. But wearing white at a funeral might be under a huge question.

Depending on the culture, wearing white for a funeral can be absolutely fine and will not offend the mourning people. But even if it’s not appropriate in your culture to wear white for a funeral, you can still choose to wear subdued colors to balance the white part of your outfit.

What To Wear To A FuneralWhat To Wear To A Funeral

For example, if you wear slacks and a jacket, you can choose a white blouse or dress shirt.

In general, even in Western countries, Europe, and North America, you don’t have to be dressed all black from head to toe to visit a funeral (unless you want to dress like that)!

Nevertheless, wearing all white can also look way too vivid and cheerful since, in these countries, white is a traditional color for celebrations and festive occasions like weddings, etc.

So if wearing all black is way too gloomy for you (even if it’s for a funeral), it’s ok if you add a small white accent. For instance, it can be a white shirt worn with a black suit if you are a man. If you are a woman, you can wear a black dress with a white neck scarf or white gloves.

Is It OK to Wear White to a Funeral
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What Does White Mean as a Color?

To understand why white is not much welcomed at a funeral, let’s see what this color usually means. In most cultures worldwide, white holds positive connotations. In many cultures, white is associated with purity, youth, and perfection as a color that contains and disperses all other colors.

Understanding, faith, goodness, and light are also associated with this color. Because of the most positive connotations, people often confuse it with a joyful color.

For sure, a funeral is never a happy day. Although in some cultures, people believe that there is some joy in knowing that your relative or loved one who has passed away will experience resurrection in the afterlife or rest in peace.

In these cultures, funerals are often associated with positive feelings, which is why white is a more welcoming color there.

Still, wearing white does not mean people are celebrating the death of a close person! It is instead a sign of respect for the life lost and an expression of hope for the soul’s better life afterward.

What Does White Mean as a Color
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What Does Wearing White to a Funeral Mean In Different Cultures?

As you all know, black is the traditional color of mourning across Europe and North America, but white has always been there as well. People seldom wear all black for a funeral. Typically, there is a bit of white as well. It is mostly a clean white shirt usually worn with black suits. Besides, if you pay attention, you will notice that funeral flowers are usually white too.

However, in some confessions, white is the color of funeral clothes. For example, Buddhists wear white to funerals as a symbol of mourning and respect for the deceased person.

There is a belief in Buddhism that the first three days after a person’s death should be a period of positivity. Like this, the deceased can pass from life to death peacefully. This is why Buddhists prefer to mourn in white during this period of time.

White plays a more prominent role in funerals across other continents. For example, at Hindu funerals, white is the primary color people wear to show their respect for the deceased. Similarly, white is a customary funeral color in some Asian cultures, particularly in China and Korea.

Now you know more about the meaning of a white color as a color worn for a funeral. This information will help you better understand when it might be inappropriate to wear white for this occasion and in what cases a white blouse or a scarf could be absolutely acceptable.

What Does Wearing White to a Funeral Mean In Different Culture
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Meaning of White Clothes for a Funeral In Different Confessions Explained

If you have been wondering whether it is ok to wear all white to a funeral, the answer is no. In most cultures, it is rude and offensive to wear this color for a total look for a funeral. That means, if you are going to participate in a funeral in the United States or in Europe, you should not wear all white! Although a small white accent is acceptable (e.g., a scarf or gloves).

Usually, whether or not this color can be worn depends on the religious culture or the family’s preference. So if you are going to attend a funeral, make sure you are familiar with the type of funeral regarding customs.

Anyway, it is always good to know in advance what type of funeral you will be attending! This will help you to know precisely whether you can wear all white or any white. Below, we have collected the most common confessions and religions and explained the meaning of white as a funeral color.

  • For Christian funerals (whether it is formal or casual), all white is considered inappropriate. You should stick to neutral or dark colors and use minimal white.
  • For Chinese funerals, you can wear all white freely if the clothes are plain and have no design or decorations. In China, white is viewed as a sign of grief and lamentation. However, avoid wearing red as it is the color of happiness!
  • At Hindu funerals, mourners wear all white. Also, unlike most funeral traditions in other cultures, black is not appropriate for Hindu funerals.
  • If you are going to attend Buddhist funerals, note that only the family wears all white. Friends and other people attending the funeral generally wear black.
  • Jewish funerals do not accept wearing all white. You should dress conservatively and not in bright colors!
  • Thai funerals also don’t accept white as a color of grief. Guests and mourners should wear black out of respect.

If you are unsure whether wearing an all-white outfit will be suitable, stick to a good rule of thumb: either check this with a family member or simply wear black if you are sure this color is accepted.

Meaning of White Clothes for a Funeral In Different Confessions Explained
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How to Wear White For a Funeral?

Of course, funerals are not the right place for demonstrating your outfit and style, but still, if you want to look appropriate and reserved, you should know how to combine different elements of your outfit.

This can help significantly if you are one of those who don’t know for sure how to incorporate a white element into your funeral look. Below, you can check a few ideas on how to dress for a funeral if you choose a black-and-white style.

Why you should not wear Black clothes at Funeral| Sadhguru Explains| Modern day Mystic| Adiyogi IshaWhy you should not wear Black clothes at Funeral| Sadhguru Explains| Modern day Mystic| Adiyogi Isha

1.Black-and-white outfits for ladies:

  • Wear a black dress with polka dots
    For a less formal funeral service, a ruffled sleeve with a flared skirt can be a good option.
  • A two-piece black or royal navy dress will work well for a traditional setting. Just choose the one with short sleeves and a modest skirt length.
  • You can wear a black dress and shoes with a white scarf on your neck. A white pearl necklace will also be a good idea.
  • You can wear a woman’s pantsuit and pair it with a casual white blouse.

2.What a man can wear for a funeral:

  • A traditional black suit (jacket and trousers) and a white shirt are good options.
  • Try pairing a solid white dress shirt with darker cotton slacks in either black, brown, or navy.
  • You can add a dark jacket with or without a tie for a formal funeral.
  • For informal funerals, dress shirts can be replaced with polo shirts. However, a white polo shirt without a jacket or coat would not be appropriate!

So now you have a few valuable ideas on how to dress for a funeral if you know it’s ok to wear white there. With these life hacks, you will look appropriate and also be able to express your respect for grieving family.

How to Wear White For a Funeral
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Wearing White to a Funeral. Basic Rules of Etiquette

For a funeral, it is always best to use more subdued colors to pair them with the darker ones of your outfit. If you plan to wear white, adding predominantly darker colors, like forest green or deep blue, will soften the starkness of white as the main color.

There is also a chance that the family of the deceased person asks their guests to wear a particular color to honor their loved one. Usually, this is the case when the deceased was fond of a specific color.

Because of this, we recommend you always ask what color is acceptable for the funeral you are invited to. Like this, you will avoid any inconvenient situations and won’t offend the family of the deceased person.

In general, you should be flexible even about the color of your clothes for a funeral! As etiquette rules change, appropriate attire will also transform. It is already clear now that wearing white for a funeral will soon become more accepted.

Well, we told you everything we wanted to share on the subject of wearing white clothes for funerals. Now you know that white is actually one of the funeral colors; it’s just that it is used in certain cultures only.

Also, you have learned what cultures and religions precisely accept this stark color and what cultures and religions ban it.

In addition, we shared a brief explanation of the basic funeral outfit rules and etiquette with you. With their help, you will easily avoid any misunderstandings that might come with wearing inappropriate garments.

Wearing White to a Funeral. Basic Rules of Etiquette
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Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Is white a funeral color in Arab countries?

Yes, Muslims generally wear white. However, it's also appropriate to wear dark colors that fit the occasion, such as black, brown, and gray.

⭐Can a woman wear a black dress with a white flower pattern for a funeral?

Yes, wearing such a dress is acceptable if the pattern is reserved. Plus, note that this kind of dress won’t be suitable for a formal funeral!

⭐What countries wear white for funerals?

Arab countries, as well as eastern Asia and Cambodia (and other Buddhism countries), use white for funerals.

Written by
Kate worked in "The Fashion Magazine" for four years as a freelance writer and loved to consult and help people with their style. How to create your own style, how to look beautiful, and select trendy colors for your hair - these are just a few of many issues Kate will happily explain in Beezzly Beauty blogs!
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Can You Wear White To A Funeral?Can You Wear White To A Funeral?