There’s so much that goes into planning a funeral that families can begin to feel overwhelmed in an already difficult time.
To help make things easier, we’ve created a quick guide when it comes to picking out the final outfit for a loved one.
Choosing the Final Outfit: Formal or Casual?
A good place to start is to consider a loved one’s personality and the type of memorial service it will be. For example, for traditional funeral services, you’ll most likely want formal attire, such as a favorite suit or dress. But for nontraditional services, it’s ok to stray from the norm.
Caleb Wilde, the author of Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life and funeral director at Wilde Funeral Home, recently gave an interview at Racked, in which he said, “When I first started, everybody was buried in suits and dresses… Now that we’re starting to see the boomers die, it’s individual expression that’s key.” He went on to say that the individual expression of boomers includes their burial outfit.
So, it’s ok to pick an outfit that’s a little more casual. This could mean choosing the deceased’s favorite holiday sweater, their favorite sports jersey or their lucky hat. It all depends on the personality of a loved one and the type of memorial service.
Often, the funeral director should be able to help you when choosing a final outfit. But personalizing the experience can help in the grieving process. Wilde went on to tell Ranker that, “Dressing a body is something that’s very intimate…It’s an act of love to dress your dead.”
If a loved one belonged to a particular faith or religion, then it’s important to consider any religious traditions that you should follow. It’s best to consult with religious leaders in your community to learn about specific customs of funeral dress. Also, make sure to check out our brief overview of different religious funeral customs.
Once deciding on the type of outfit for a loved one, you also should consider any other mementos to gather and bring to the funeral home. These items can help personalize the funeral and honor the deceased. Some common items include:
- Family heirlooms or special jewelry
- Favorite books
- Letters to the deceased
- Other sentimental items or gifts
In most cases, these items can be buried with the deceased, but can also be returned after a service. Ask your local funeral director for any specific questions.
Make sure to read our article on tips for what family and friends should wear to a funeral.
It’s helpful to consider what caused the death. Check with the funeral director about covering bruises or scars. Some directors encourage high necklines and long sleeves. This isn’t the time to show grandmother’s cleavage. Be careful about leaving jewelry on the deceased or heirloom jewelry, there have been thefts but more often, years later, a family member would cherish the piece as a gift.
I like how you point out that personalizing the final outfit can help you with your grief and that a funeral director will be able to help you out. My mom recently passed away, and my sisters and I need to find an outfit for her, but we’ve never done this before. We’ll have to think about if she’d rather a traditional one or a casual outfit, and I think we’ll have to find a funeral home with a director who’d be able to help us out.
Thanks for the tip about considering the deceased’s religion when picking what to wear to a funeral. Taking this into account would probably help you narrow down your wardrobe a bit. I’m going to my aunt’s funeral soon, so I’ll have to consider her religion when I choose what to wear.
When it comes to preparing for a funeral, one of the important things to consider is what the deceased would be wearing–whether or not the casket would be open for viewing or not, sending off a deceased loved one shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If they have a certain dress style, then it would be best to stick to it, especially if that’s what they’re known for. Taking religion into consideration is also a good thing since there are some religions who follow certain things about the rules of dress. If I had the chance to pick what I would be wearing for when that time came… well, I would ask if I could be sent off in style.
I really liked your idea to have some sort of token or favorite item worn by the deceased, even if it’s a bit more casual. My grandmother is getting older and is trying to plan out the little details of her funeral so that it goes nicely and how she wants it to. I am going to think of what outfit is her favorite, as well as help her find and pick out a colored granite memorial that she wants.