Can You Wear Jeans To A Funeral? (Service, Visitation, Wake)


man wearing denim to a funeral

Wearing jeans is a daily occurrence for most of us, and this is true in the States as much as anywhere else in the world. However, does this common garment have a place when we are honoring the recently deceased?

Jeans are generally seen as casual attire and this doesn’t fit the traditional formal dress code favored for funerals. Most families will not specify a dress code, but they probably expect dark clothing that is similar to what you would wear to a business meeting. Jeans would not meet this criteria.

The issue here is between long-standing traditions and the importance of paying your respects no matter what you are wearing.

If you are still unsure of whether or not you should wear jeans to any funeral-related activity, then please feel free to read the rest of this article for more details.

Is it OK to wear jeans to a funeral?

Jeans on a bed next to funeral program

There’s no law against wearing jeans to a funeral, but there are age-old traditions that would rule them out. Unless the family has clearly opened up the dress code or you have no alternative, it would be best to opt for a more traditional outfit. Simple slacks and a dress shirt combo would be fine.

The reason you are asking yourself this question is probably that; A) you really don’t have much else to wear to the funeral and B) you want to be comfortable during the service and C) you don’t want to offend or stick out like a sore thumb.

The most important thing is that you attend the funeral. No one is going to turn you away, but you may have to explain yourself which could be a little bit embarrassing.

You may also get some disapproving looks from others, especially the older generation. There may also be some snide remarks from other funeral-goers, in particular from that annoying uncle everyone has.

So, feel free to wear your jeans, just be prepared for a little awkwardness until the service really gets started. if it’s a family funeral, you’ll probably have this even brought up over thanksgivings and Christmases for the next few years as well.

Solutions for when you don’t have a suit or formal dress

If you are considering wearing a pair of jeans to a funeral it is probably because you simply don’t have the right outfit, such as a suit or pretty formal dress. Even if you do own a suit or dress, it may not be the right color.

Before we go over some easy ways to get the right outfit, let’s just think about the following rules.

Rule 1: Any color suit trumps a pair of jeans

And also:

Rule 2: Any long skirt & blouse or Summer dress is better than jeans

Basically, even if you are wearing a color that is a bit brighter than black, a suit or any semi-formal dress is better than rocking up in jeans to a funeral.

infographic - avoid wearing jeans at funerals

If you don’t currently own anything other than jeans, here are some ways to get a suit or dress today.

Borrow a suit or dress

The funeral is only going to be for a few hours, and even a visitation and wake happen within a few days of the funeral, so just borrow something.

It’s better to have something that doesn’t quite fit rather than your most well-fitting pair of jeans.

Buy a cheap suit or dress

There are so many big-name retailer or discount stores which sell full suits, slacks, and shirts as well as formal dresses for very reasonable prices.

Having a suit or formal dress, even if you don’t wear one to work, is a good investment for future events such as funerals, weddings, or job interviews. As you probably won’t wear it every day, it will last you for a long time.

Visit a second hand store

If you can’t find a good price in a regular store, you can go to your long goodwill store and check out their stock. This is actually a better option in many cases because the money goes towards a good cause.

Rent a suit or dress

As this is a one-time event, you can even get away with just renting a suit for the occasion. You can do the same for dresses in most cases too.

Renting a suit will cost you anywhere between $90-$180, but some places let them go for as little as $50. Dresses can normally be rented for around $50 but as little as $30 from online retailers.

Buy and return an outfit.

If you are really strapped for cash and time, you can try the old trick of buying an outfit, keeping the tags on it, and returning it the next day.

Before you do this make sure you research the return policy of the store you buy it from and don’t lose the receipt!

Is it disrespectful to wear ripped jeans to a funeral?

wearing ripped jeans next to casket

Many families will see wearing ripped jeans to a funeral as somewhat disrespectful. Even though they may be a fashion trend, they do not fit with the traditional formal attire expected at a funeral. But, when you only have jeans, it’s best to attend to pay your respects, giving your excuses.

Whether or not wearing ripped jeans to a funeral is disrespectful or not really depends on the deceased and your connection to the family.

Some people actually request that they not have a formal funeral, and this will be clearly announced on any invitations for the funeral. If the deceased was quite young, then wearing informal clothing may be more suitable. Again, this is a choice the family will make and then informal the funeral guestlist about.

If you are a teenager attending the funeral of an elder member of your family, you should probably make the effort to wear a suit or formal dress. Your granddad probably didn’t like those jeans in life, they won’t appreciate them at their own funeral now.

Can you wear jeans to a funeral visitation?

As visitations occur before a formal funeral it is less disrespectful to wear jeans to them. Often visiting the deceased before the day of the funeral occurs during the working week, so time is a factor. It’s better to visit the dead in casual clothes you’re already in than not visit them at all.

Although I wouldn’t recommend that you wear jeans to a funeral in most cases, I think that doing so during a visitation can be acceptable. Usually these are fairly intimate events with you and the deceased without the entire congregation of a funeral.

If you have to squeeze in a visitation during a working day, you may not have time to go home and change. So, don’t feel too bad about wearing your jeans to this particular funeral event.

Can you wear black jeans to a visitation?

Black jeans are going to attract less attention than blue jeans at a visitation so are more acceptable. Visitations often fall on work days, so you often have to attend in your work clothes. However, whenever possible it’s best to don formal attire to follow the expected funeral etiquette.

Although black jeans are still jeans, they are going to be a lot less noticeable during a visitation where people are arriving and departing. The most important part of a visitation is to give you an opportunity to say your goodbyes. What you wear is really a secondary concern.

Can a woman wear black jeans to a funeral?

Woman wearing black jeans to a funeral

As a rule, women shouldn’t wear black jeans to funerals. In many cases, the funeral venue may have a rule that requires women to wear dresses or skirts. However, the dress code is down to the funeral organizer and they may allow the congregation to wear casual clothing, which includes black jeans.

There is no denying that black jeans would be more appropriate than blue jeans, purely because they fit the expected color scheme of a funeral outfit. Nevertheless, jeans of any color aren’t going to fit the expected choice of outfit for a woman.

Unfortunately, some churches do actually have rules about what you can wear inside them. For women, they may actually have soft or hard rules that require you to wear a skirt or dress and not pants.

With all this being said, if you are not able to get a more appropriate outfit or just don’t want to confirm, it’s better to go in black jeans than not go to the funeral at all.

Can you wear blue jeans to a funeral?

Blue jeans are the worse choice of outfit for any traditional funeral you could make. They do not fulfill the formal expectations at a funeral nor the color code. Nevertheless, what you wear is far less important that the purpose of a funeral, which is to celebrate a life and say your final goodbye.

As time goes on funeral attire is becoming less formal than it once was. However, the trend has really gone from a full suit to slacks and a dress shirt. Not jeans and a t-shirt.

When you are attending an event that is trying to honor someone’s entire life, you need to make sure that you don’t show disrespect. The reality is that you are wearing jeans because you either don’t have the right formal clothing or you just find that attending is more important than what you wear.

I certainly agree with the second statement, but you need to consider the feeling of the deceased’s closest relatives and friends. Appearing to show disdain for the proceeding by wearing your normal clothes may cause them to be offended or distract from the purpose of the funeral.

If at all possible, you want to blend in rather than standing out.

Can I wear jeans to a memorial service?

Memorial services are often substituted for a funeral and have the same formality that makes jeans inappropriate. Even though there is no body, this type of event is supposed to be solemn, and wearing formal attire adds to the occasion. Wearing jeans to these events should be avoided in most cases.

Memorial services should really be treated with the same level of reverence as funerals, and if you wouldn’t wear jeans to the latter you probably shouldn’t do so to the former.

Unless specifically stated, assume that the dress code to a memorial service follows the same formal etiquette of most funerals. However, some memorial services are much more about honoring how the person lived and the family may choose to reflect this in the dress code.

Can you wear nice jeans to a funeral?

Man wearing smart jeans at a funeral

If jeans are the only option you have to wear to a funeral they can be rendered more suitable by accessorizing. Wearing formal footwear along with a suitable shirt and blazer can make jeans look quite formal. Nevertheless, this outfit will be more eye-catching than dark formal attire.

Although jeans are certainly not traditional funeral attire, you can do a lot with them if you pair them with other garments.

Make sure that you don’t wear your everyday sneakers with your jeans, instead wear some smart formal footwear as this can transform a pair of jeans into something quite fancy.

Get yourself a nice plain white or neutral-colored shirt. A tie, for men, is an easy way to turn the entire outfit from casual to business-casual. Adding a blazer to the mix is another way of making an otherwise inappropriate outfit fairly formal.

Can you wear jeans to a wake or celebration of life?

Wearing jeans to wakes and other gatherings to celebrate a life is usually acceptable. These events are a lot less formal than a funeral and usually, the objective is to laugh, drink and reminisce about the deceased. But, if the wake follows a funeral directly you should still don a suit or dress.

What you wear to a wake or celebration of life really does depend on when it is held and the atmosphere that the family is aiming for. In many traditions, these celebrations involve alcohol and funny stories about the recently departed, so casual attire is often absolutely fine.

If you are in doubt, get in touch with someone associated with the event organizer and just ask them about the dress code.

Can you wear jeans to a funeral home?

If you are going to a funeral home to discuss funeral plans you can wear jeans. If you are attending a funeral home for a service or visitation, jeans should be avoided if at all possible. Funeral homes don’t have rules about dress code, but culturally formal wear is best for official ceremonies.

Simply entering a funeral home doesn’t mean that you have to be in your Sunday best, especially not if you are the one planning the funeral and there to talk business. However, this is a place which is dedicating to treating the recently departed with a lot of respect, and clothing reflects that.

If you do have to go into a funeral home to discuss final preparations, it’s best to wear something clean and not too revealing. Even if it’s hot outside, don’t turn up in shorts and a skimpy top. Jeans would be fine in this case.

Can a woman wear pants to a funeral?

Women can wear pants as part of a formal outfit to a funeral. Traditionally a dark dress or skirt is expected but this custom is changing as time goes on. Ideally, you shouldn’t wear jeans to a funeral if you can help it, but a business-like pants suit is certainly formal enough for the occasion.

If you are the type of woman who doesn’t like wearing formal dresses, then wearing smart pants to a funeral is the next best thing. A formal dress code is normally expected in most Western funerals, and this has traditionally limited what women can wear.

The only caveat to this is the fact that a few churches actually have policies against women wearing pants. If this is the case for you, to avoid causing a scene and having to discuss this less than a modern mindset, you may just want to comply.

Make sure that a pair of pants isn’t what stops you from showing your final respects to the deceased.

Can I wear leggings to a funeral?

Leggings, on their own, would probably not be a suitable garment to wear to a funeral. They are not formal attire and this is normally expected at a funeral. If they were worn under a skirt as part of an outfit for warmth, they would be more than acceptable to the customs of most Western funerals.

Although incredibly practical for most daily needs, leggings just aren’t the sort of thing you should wear to most funerals. If the dress code has been announced as casual, I still think that a pair of jeans would be better than leggings which can be more revealing.

If it’s a funeral during winter, you might want to wear some leggings or pantyhose under a dress to keep warm in a cold church or next to a grave.

Ultimately there are no legal rules about what you wear to a funeral and you only have to contend with the reaction of others and how concerned you are with them. Again, a pair of leggings, if that’s all you have, shouldn’t force you to stay at home.

Is it OK to wear khakis to a funeral?

Wearing khakis, as with jeans, are not the best choice for a funeral outfit. Even when paired with a shirt, these pants lack the formality which is expected for a funeral. Unless the dress code has explicitly said ‘casual wear’, leave your khakis at home. Visitations and wakes may be the exception.

When it comes to funeral outfits, khakis pants really fall into the same bucket as your blue jeans, informal attire. If you are choosing between a suit and khakis, the suit has to win every time. If you only have the khakis, then it’s far better that you catch some disapproving looks than miss the funeral completely.

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