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What Is Appropriate to Wear to a Memorial Service?

upset man at memorial service

Memorial services are usually more casual than a traditional funeral and attire for the memorial service will follow this cue. However, you still want to wear the appropriate clothing to honor the deceased respectfully.

Formal Memorial Service Outfit Ideas

While memorials are less formal than funerals, they are still a dressier occasion than a backyard barbeque. If the outfit would be considered appropriate for a religious service or business casual, it's usually okay to wear to a formal memorial service. You should also use the location to help you decide; if the memorial is at a church or fancy restaurant, you'll want to dress for those locations following their dress codes as well.

Women

Women have a wide range of options, depending on the time of year. While you don't need to wear black, sticking with darker or jewel tones is a good idea for dressing business casual at a formal memorial service. Consider:

  • Dress slacks in brown, black, or navy with button-down shirt or sweater
  • Seasonal dressy pantsuit with jacket
  • Pencil skirt with knit top and silver or gold jewelry
  • Business suit with a simple print top (instead of button-down)
woman consoling her colleague

Men

Men can also wear smart business causal attire. Look for something that could go from the office to the service. For example:

  • Navy pants with a blazer to match
  • Dress pants with sweater
  • Lightweight suit in gray, tan or brown, but skip the tie
  • Black pants and a pin-striped button-down shirt/shirt without a tie
couple at military cemetery

Girls

Girls attending a memorial service can wear clothing appropriate for a school concert or religious event. Lightweight dresses, slacks with knit tops or sweaters, and cardigans with skirts are all appropriate. Have them wear flats instead of sneakers.

children walking in autumn woods

Boys

Boys attending a formal memorial service should also follow the same general dressing guidelines. Skip jeans and instead look for khaki trousers or dark slacks. Pair the pants with a long- or short-sleeved button-down shirt and/or sweater or sweater vest.

boy leaning back on pew

What to Wear to a Casual Memorial Service

Like more formal events, you'll want to take your cue from the location and season. For example, a summer backyard or beachside memorial service would call for garden party attire, while a fall memorial in a barn means corduroy pants and a sweater.

Women

While casual services offer quite a bit of leeway in terms of attire, you still want to follow some general guidelines. Skip gaudy or flashy tops and select a few sophisticated, classy accessories. Attire for a range of seasons and locations include:

  • Black or brown dress pants with sweater
  • Maxi dress with cardigan
  • Garden party dresses
  • Knit shirt or polo with khaki pants
  • Boyfriend blazer with skinny slacks
Supportive women hug

Men

At a casual event, men don't need to dress quite as formally. While pants should still be ironed and crisp, they do not need to be cuffed or formal dress slacks. A few ideas include:

Some men may be tempted to wear dark jeans and a blazer to a casual memorial service. If you want to wear jeans, you should make sure the venue calls for them and that you dress them up appropriately; in other words, wear a button-down shirt with loafers, consider adding a blazer, and skip the t-shirt and sneakers.

Son comforting father

Girls

At a casual service, girls have a few more options to choose from when getting dressed. In addition to knit dresses, cardigans, and pants, they may also select khakis and a polo shirt. A dressy tunic or dress over nice leggings would also be appropriate. Dark jeans may also be appropriate, depending on location.

Girl sitting on stairs

Boys

Casual clothing options for boys means lightweight khaki, gray, or dark blue or green pants; they can be cargo options if desired. Look for a polo or nice striped shirt to pair with the pants. Don't select shirts with words or characters on them. Like girls, dark jeans may be appropriate, depending on the location.

sad young boy

Clothing Tips

When picking out what to wear to a memorial service, you should follow a few basic guidelines:

  • Skip flip-flops, light-up shoes, or grungy boots.
  • Pick clothing you feel comfortable wearing.
  • Don't wear jeans unless the event calls for them; wear nice shirts and shoes with them.
  • If invitations mention a particular style of clothing, do your best to follow the request.
  • Faded, ripped, and otherwise worn-out clothing should be left at home.
  • Layers, like jackets and blazers, are good if you aren't sure about the weather.
senior man feeling upset

Selecting Appropriate Memorial Service Attire

Picking out the right memorial service outfit means you should take your cue from the venue and service information. Generally, it is better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed for a Start by checking your own closet and filling in with additional pieces and accessories as needed.

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What Is Appropriate to Wear to a Memorial Service?