Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

What is NOT OK to wear to a funeral and why?

Asked by Dutchess_III (25575 points ) March 24th, 2012

Was at a funeral yesterday. My husband’s 84 year old aunt died. The first time I saw someone wearing jeans to a wedding or a funeral it kind of gave me pause…but they’d worn a really nice shirt and shoes and took time to look nice so… meh.

Well, yesterday one of the relatives, a close relative, a 50+ year old man we’ll call John, showed up in worn out cargo-type jeans that looked like they hadn’t been washed or taken off in a week, a camouflage T-shirt with some John Deere ad on it, and black tennis shoes that looked like they had recently stepped in a mud puddle. He looked like he had just gotten off the tractor after working the fields. He did have on a decent KC Chiefs wind breaker, but it didn’t do much to cover up the T-shirt. He is not a poor person.

THAT took me aback.

When we got home we immediately changed from our “dress” clothes to comfy jeans and sweatshirts. Then we went to visit with John and his wife because we were thinking of buying a tractor from him. He had on the same old clothes as he had on at the funeral, and he and Rick went out and worked on the tractor we were thinking of buying, getting greasy and dirty and just having farmer fun. In the same clothes he wore to the funeral.

What do you guys think about this?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

55 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I always wore a jacket at the least. A guy showed up at my uncle’s funeral in coveralls.

gailcalled's avatar

I was at a memorial service recently held in our little performing arts center. When the husband asked if anyone in the audience would like to say a few words, a man walked up the aisle and stepped to the dais, in camouflage.

Jeruba's avatar

Honestly and truly, your question (and the opinion implied in the wording) calls for a judgment that I would not be prepared to make.

Like you, I’d have been surprised. But I would also remember that the number of possible explanations exceeds my imaginative capacity and that I have no need to know which it is. Bluntly put, it’s not my business to judge how people handle their losses.

quiddidyquestions's avatar

I went to the funeral of a friend’s father a few years ago. He died unexpectedly and was in his early 60’s. I hardly knew him at all, but I wanted to be there for my friend.

There were quite a few people in the ugliest Hawaiian shirts or sports jerseys I’d ever seen and thought WTF. Turns out, the deceased had a great affinity for ugly Hawaiian shirts and his coworkers had all decided to wear them as a tribute, and that he was a huge sports fan so some people paid tribute that way.

I think it’s respectful to the living to dress up a bit (or wear something in homage like at the funeral I attended), but it’s also, imho, not my place to judge how someone else mourns.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I felt the the carelessness implied a lack of mourning, and a lack of concern for the other family members who were truly grieving. I know him fairly well, and I think he just didn’t give a shit.

quiddidyquestions's avatar

@Dutchess_III But he showed up… doesn’t that imply a bit of caring?

Jeruba's avatar

1. He was having a hard time with it and almost didn’t go, but made up his mind at the last minute.
2. He was saying that grieving wasn’t a special-occasion thing for him but something he would do every day.
3. He was pointing out that “God looketh upon the heart.”
4. He had made the aunt a promise that he would wear his everyday clothes for a reason known only to the two of them.
5. Something happened to his Sunday best too late to make a change.
6. Someone tried to tell him how to dress, and he was expressing his defiance.
7. He was napping beforehand, or drunk, or working, and lost track of the time, so he had to rush over just the way he was.
8. . . .

Dutchess_III's avatar

1. No
2. No.
3. No.
4. Probably not. She would have said the same to others.
5. Sunday best? How about just clean jeans and a clean t-shirt?
6. A 50+ year old is a little too old to rebel in that way.
7. He was not drunk or working.

Bellatrix's avatar

I have only been to three funerals (thank goodness) and I thought there were protocols about what is expected in terms of dress but at each of those funerals people arrived in clothing I would not have expected. Jeans, casual clothing, tee shirts etc. As has been suggested though the people were there to pay their final respects and that they were there means more to me than what they were wearing. Plus, one funeral was for a very young man and at one of the others the relatives asked us to attend wearing bright, happy colours to reflect the flowers in the person’s garden.

So, I guess things change and the rules are now much more relaxed.

PurpleClouds's avatar

Well, I think nothing of it. I have been to very few funerals and could not tell you what people wore. I just don’t really care about things like that. The dirty part would probably get my attention though. I think people should be clean, but cargo jeans and a Tshirt—I just wouldn’t care. The dead guy didn’t care either.

Earthgirl's avatar

I know a lot of people don’t think this way but I believe that dressing presentably at an occassion such as a funeral is a sign of respect. The deceased obviously doesn’t know or care but the family might. Seriously, what does it take to dress presentably at least? If you were going on a job interview you would do as much. But in the end analysis I would try not to judge. If it were me in the family I would just be glad they cared enough to come. It’s what is in the heart that really matters.

Bellatrix's avatar

@Earthgirl, I would always try to dress nicely to a funeral but let’s just say a friend was down on their luck. They only have an old pair of jeans and a few tee shirts. Would you rather they didn’t attend your funeral or that they come dressed in what they have – however unsuitable their attire might be judged?

Coloma's avatar

Well, this is one of those situations where yes, traditionally funerals call for a moderately dressed up and well groomed appearance, but…on the other hand, dead people don’t care what others are wearing anymore.
I understand the feeling of perhaps a moderate lack of respect, but really, he’s a farmer kinda guy, obviously no pretenses and, again, he did show up, sooo…in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter and he should be given credit for his attendance even if he was a bit on the sloppy side. It’s the thought that counts the most.

Earthgirl's avatar

Bellatrix Like I said, I would be glad they came. It’s what is in the heart that matters. But some people are just too inconsiderate to make the effort. And I will hold to the idea that dressing neatly is a sign of respect. Your clothes should be clean and neat even if a little shabby.

Trillian's avatar

One would think that it would be more significant how he behaved. If he sat quietly, refrained from scratching, or expelling gases loudly then hollering “Pull my finger!”, meh… At least he showed up.
I knew a couple who would crash funeral dinners after the funeral and actually would also take food home in doggie bags.
Now that’s tacky.

Ponderer983's avatar

My following answer DOES NOT imply how I feel someone should dress/act at a funeral.

I have been to a lot of funerals for only being 30, but my parents always wanted us children to know that death was a part of life and you have to respect protocol and deal with death. I do dress properly in better than jeans (dress pants and blouse or dress), but I have seen many people who either wear jeans, work clothes, and other garments not deemed “appropriate attire.” My first thought – I am glad and thankful they showed up. Let’s not overlook the fact that they did the right thing by showing up. When my father died, we had people from all walks of life come to his service. Some people came straight from work or during work. This involved nurses wearing scrubs, painter’s wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, teenagers wearing jeans, and many more. My first thought was not, “Oh look what they are wearing.” Instead, it was gratefulness that they showed up. I don’t care if they came in a burlap sack, what mattered at that point was no longer the trivial things of how a person dresses, it was their feeling compelled to drive to a funeral home and pay their last respects to me father. Do I believe it is proper to go like that? – - – No. And I never would. BUT, far be it me to judge others who do go to a funeral dressed as such. to me, their actions speak louder than their clothing.

Coloma's avatar

@Trillian Seriously? I’ve heard of wedding crashers but never funeral crashers. lol
I had a wedding crasher at my reception, some random older guy who just wandered into the house, it was a summer evening outdoor poolside reception at my in laws home and this guy just came on in and started playing the piano, we had no idea who he was but he had a good time. haha

filmfann's avatar

Several years ago, I flew to Las Vegas for my grandfathers funeral.
I traveled in short pants, and planned to change before the funeral, but had no time.
The result was that I wore short pants to the funeral, and, yes, I was one of the pallbearers.
In my defense, I will just say that it suited my grandfathers approach to life.

Earthgirl's avatar

Ok, I don’t want to be thought of as a person who is judgmental, and I generally am not. I just keep thinking of a recent instance where it annoyed me that someone I knew personally could have made the effort and didn’t. It was at the funeral of a coworker. The guy died young, in his 20’s. We all knew him and we knew ahead of time that the memorial service was going to be a certain day. We left in cars from the office. One of my coworkers who can definitely afford to dress better wore a sweat suit. Let’s just leave aside the idea that a sweat suit isn’t even appropriate professional attire for the office (and she is one of those people who is always talking about “professionalism) and just beg the question, “Is that what you would wear to a friend or family member’s funeral service???” I mean, it was like she just didn’t care enough to wear something better. To me that was disrespectful.

Jeruba's avatar

@Dutchess_III, those were just examples to illustrate my view that there might be many possible reasons, more than I could think of. There’s no point in trying to list everything that could possibly explain this odd choice and submit it for evaluation. (However, don’t your “no” answers involve getting inside his head?)

I don’t think there’s a cutoff age past which rebellion is impossible, by the way.

Clearly you are angry about this and want some kind of satisfaction. Why don’t you ask him?

Trillian's avatar

@Coloma, that’s probably what people said about these two. They were SO oblivious that they didn’t even have the grace to be ashamed of themselves. That was how they got a lot of their dinners on the weekends.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Some people simply don’t recognize or understand that the way that they dress broadcasts information about whether or not they have respect for a place, event, or the people around them. It’s as if no one ever told them this when they were children, or if told, they didn’t think it was serious.

These people don’t have “Sunday best”, and they don’t keep a black shirt “just in case”. They aren’t embarrassed that they’re being stared at, or spoken to differently, because they simply don’t know they’ve done anything that others consider wrong.

augustlan's avatar

While I dress nicely for funerals (just because it’s the way I was raised), it doesn’t bother me if other people don’t. In fact, I’ve specifically said that I don’t want people wearing ‘mourning’ clothes at my own funeral. I plan to be buried in jeans! (<< Not a plug, just an explanation.)

JustPlainBarb's avatar

I know dress “codes” have been relaxed significantly, even for church services .. so I have a feeling that people are dressing down for funerals too.

I really think though that as a sign of respect for the deceased and his/her family, dressing as nicely as possible is a very thoughtful thing to do in honoring them.

I believe funerals should be tributes to someone’s life and don’t have to be completely sad occasions… and people don’t have to dress all in black or anything. But, putting out the small extra effort to dress respectably is the least anyone can do.

KateTheGreat's avatar

This reminds me of an episode of American Dad, where the wife and alien went to a funeral in ice skating costumes.

But seriously, I think bright colors or casual wear aren’t suitable for funeral attire.

chyna's avatar

My mom passed away last year and I don’t remember anything that anyone wore to the funeral. However, that could be because no one stood out in crazy attire.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Jeruba If a 57 year old man is still rebelling like a 16 year old, then he’s an idiot. He’s my husband’s brother, and, knowing him, it may very well be that his wife asked him to put on some clean clothes, and that was precisely why he didn’t. I wouldn’t have thought much about it if he’d at least looked clean, but he looked like he’d just gotten done slopping a hog pen. I understand that there “could” have been many reasons, but none of them apply in this case. If he HAD a valid reason, then you would assume he would apologize for his appearance and explain, as I’m sure you did @filmfann.

I agree with everyone that it was extremely disrespectful and insensitive to those who were mourning deeply and whose lives will never, ever be the same. It’s like holding up a sign that says, “I really don’t care that she died.”

filmfann's avatar

After acting as pall bearer, I went and sat next to my sister.
During the service, my cousin got up and talked about my grandfather. She said he was loving, good, and a hardworking man. My sister immediately turned to program over as if to verify we were at the right funeral.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s funny @filmfann! I disagree with pretending people were something that they weren’t just because they died. You can always find something good to say about someone without making stuff up.

Jeruba's avatar

@Dutchess_III, I hope you don’t think I was defending him. Essentially I said that I wouldn’t feel qualified to judge him.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh, no. I don’t think you were defending him. You were suggesting that there might be a valid reason why he did that, and if I didn’t know him at all I would have given him the benefit of the doubt. But I do know him, and that was inexcusable, IMO.

ucme's avatar

The deceased’s clothes, too soon.

coastiegirl96's avatar

Typically red. Or anything remotely bright, flashy or eye catching. Sorry for your loss. I wore a black dress to my best friend’s funeral. So, it’s really your choice. But usually something remotely dressy. Not pants or shorts. That seems wildly inappropriate to me. Hope this helps.. I don’t think the person that wore pants knew what to wear. And I would assume they weren’t extremely close. I personally hate funerals. But, anyway.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@coastiegirl96 Welcome to fluther. I hate funerals too.

coastiegirl96's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Why thank you. Yeah. Last one I went to was in third grade. I wish I hadn’t went. It was an open casket. Not the way you want to see your first childhood best friend.. it still haunts me to this day. :/ I avoid funerals at all costs.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@coastiegirl96 I went to three of them in nine months when I was 12. My uncle, my grandfather, and my father. I hate them too. They’re important to the survivors though.

coastiegirl96's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I’m sorry ): Yeah, they are. For some it’s a good way of closure.. but I went to her’s, and I still can’t come to terms with it.. it just gets a little harder everyday.. It’s like every new thing I experience, or stupid mistake I make, I think “You’ll never get to do this, Tor.” It still sucks.. Which probably is tupid, and makes no sense. But I don’t care. It’s the way it is.
Sorry about unleashing my whiny sob story on you.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Letting it out is the only way to deal with it. You can’t keep it bottled up. Unleash away.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@coastiegirl96 I’m sorry to hear that. I went to an open casket funeral as a child, too – and found it very traumatic. I don’t know why people think it’s ok to do that. I mean, I can understand why they want it for themselves, but that’s a lot to put on a child.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wore dress slacks! Black ones. Unfortunately the guy who came dressed all dirty WAS a close family member.
@dappled_leaves My husband and I had a bit of a disagreement on that open casket subject. His aunt requested to be cremated. She was the first family member to do so. My husband was kind of upset about that. He said, “Wouldn’t you just want to see them one more time?”
I said, “No. I would not want to see them dead.” (Both of my parents were cremated.)
I think it’s an awful thing to do to a child too.

bkcunningham's avatar

Whoa, @Dutchess_III. I just thought of something when I read your last post. You husband’s aunt was cremated and there wasn’t a viewing before the body was taken for the cremation? Just a funeral service with the urn?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, the urn wasn’t there either. There was no viewing for either of my parents either. Why would anyone want to see them dead?

coastiegirl96's avatar

@dappled_leaves Thank you. Finally someone that agrees with me. It was horrible.
@Adirondackwannabe Yeeeah, I’ll pass, haha. I don’t want to annoy with my sob story.
@Dutchess_III Oh, I see.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think that viewings probably began with royalty. People wanted to be SURE that really was the king in that casket and it wasn’t just a political ploy.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Dutchess_III, you said your husband was upset that there wasn’t going to be a viewing and he didn’t have a chance to have that closure of seeing her one last time and saying a final goodbye. Maybe, just maybe, since his brother wasn’t dressed in a way that most of us would think you should dress for a funeral; he didn’t think of it as a funeral. Since they are brothers, I would think they were raised the same way and have the same perception of a funeral.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Funerals/memorials are not for the deceased. They are for the living. What does it matter if the body is there or not? There is no difference between a funeral or a memorial, except you don’t get the traumatic experience of seeing someone buried 10 feet under the earth.
If that was the reason his brother dressed so casually then THAT was stupid. The dead don’t know what you’re wearing. The living do.
My husband, his other brother and his Dad, and every other family member had the decency to dress up for it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! That line from the movie “The Sixth Sense” is coming to mind…“I see dead people.” Yeah, well, you’re at a funeral, dumbass!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Maybe it WAS a protest on his brother’s part. If it was, though, he was WAY out of line. She had her reasons, damn good ones, for wanting it that way.

bkcunningham's avatar

Many times when a loved one dies, family members become divided instead of pulling closer and realizing that none of us are promised tomorrow. I hope that isn’t the case for your family, @Dutchess_III. I wish you all peace and love through this difficult time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It isn’t difficult for me. It isn’t that difficult for my husband either. But thanks.

When families become divided because someone died, it’s over what they left behind and who they left it to, not because they died (unless it was a child or something.) They become divided because some of them are greedy whores.

Adagio's avatar

In my opinion it’s okay to wear whatever one feels most comfortable in, I assume you have gone to a funeral to say goodbye and you can do that wearing any sort of clothes surely‚Ķ

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Adagio Well, there is no one there to say good bye to. That was best said while they were alive, if you had the chance. A funeral is is a collection of people getting together to remember the person who died. Out of respect for the collection of people, out of respect for the deceased memory IN those other people, and because it IS a formal occasion, I say it is not ok to wear oil stained jeans and manure covered boots to a funeral or a wedding.

Adagio's avatar

When I have been to a funeral it has been to say goodbye to someone who has died, in my own way, what I am wearing is immaterial, funerals mean different things to different people, there is no right or wrong way of doing it, everybody is different.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But why do you have to go to a funeral to say good bye @Adagio? The person isn’t even there.

Adagio's avatar

You are right of course @Dutchess_III, one doesn’t have to go to a funeral to say one’s goodbye, goodbyes can be said anywhere but somehow, for me, at least initially, it feels good to gather together with others who also are feeling grief for the death of the same person. Having said all that, there is one person for whom I feel the need to say goodbye in my heart over and over and over again, I don’t imagine the process will ever be complete, that person was just so dear to me.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther