Fashion in times of grief

I lost my mother last week. My mother was a very stylish lady – one who could make a smashing outfit out of anything. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but my mother always looked perfect.

Next week, we will hold her memorial service. My mother would insist that everyone be appropriately attired, so I have brought back the following post from a few years ago. Thanks, mom, you taught me well.

We’re at the age where we’ve shifted from weddings and baby showers to college graduations and funerals. Such is the circle of life.

Having been to many funerals lately, I wanted to write a post about what to wear. Certainly, attire runs the gamut from jeans and t-shirts to formal suits. Colours, though mostly dark, sometimes run amok. There are many schools of thought about what to wear to a funeral. More conservative (and likely older) folks tend to follow the dress code more strictly.

As we baby boomers start to attend more funerals, however, we’re challenging the rules a little, just like we’ve done all our lives. Some people believe that your clothes and demeanor should reflect the personality of the deceased. “Harry wouldn’t want us to cry.”

Some people believe there needs to be proper respect not only for the deceased but also the house of worship in which the funeral takes place.”Wear your Sunday best.”

And, still others believe it doesn’t matter what you wear – more important that you attend and support the friends and family of the deceased. “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

What do I think? Here are my tips for funeral attire:

  • Wear the nicest clothes you can, within your means. Dressing up is always appropriate.
  • Avoid jeans if you can.
  • Wear darker colours, but it’s ok to add a little colour to reflect the personality of the deceased if appropriate.
  • No cleavage. No outrageous heels. Chances are you’ll be in church, a temple or other house of worship.
  • Keep perfume to a minimum – it can be irritating to some people especially in close quarters.
  • Wear modest jewelry – pearls are perfect. This is not the place for funky, chunky overdone jewelry.
  • Wear modest, toned down makeup – waterproof if you’re inclined to weep. Carry touchup supplies.
  • Most importantly, respect the dress code of the location: temples, mosques and others have strict rules.

Do your best to mirror the solemnity of the occasion. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Respect the wishes of the family and the house of worship. Take good care.

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