Knowing what to wear to a funeral can be difficult. Nobody wants to disrespect a grieving family. So, can you wear a 3-piece suit to a funeral?
A well-fitted 3-piece suit in a dark and neutral color can be worn to a funeral. Combine it with a subtle white dress shirt, a solid-colored necktie, and avoid over-accessorizing to ensure that it looks respectful.
Although that’s the short answer, there’s more to it. Here are some essential tips for wearing a 3-piece suit to a funeral the right way.
Let’s get to it.
1. Ensure It’s Well-Fitted
While it’s usually appropriate to wear one, you’ll want to make sure it’s well fitted before doing so.
A lot of people have a 3-piece suit in their wardrobe but rarely ever wear them. When they do, it’s common to find that they no longer fit properly after so many months.
With funerals often occurring at very short notice, this could be a problem if you were hoping to wear it.
A vest that doesn’t fit properly is quite obvious, especially when you take the suit jacket off.
There may be times during the funeral where you want to wear the vest (waistcoat) by itself – for example, during an indoors segment.
A poorly-fitting vest would be on full show and a funeral is not where you want your sense of dress to become a focus.
Here are some tips for making sure that the vest does fit before you wear it:
- The shoulders of the vest should lie flat against the shoulders with no bulging or puffing.
- The “V” of the buttoned vest should be narrow enough to be visible and not hidden behind the suit lapels.
- The vest should be long enough to cover your waist. In fact, it’s common to not wear a belt when wearing a 3-piece suit, as it’ll cause the vest to bulge. The vest should be long enough to hide your belt loops.
2. Choose A Dark And Neutral Color
Black, charcoal, and navy blue are the best colors for a 3-piece suit when attending a funeral. Avoid lighter, bolder, and brighter colors as they’ll be inappropriate for the occasion.
Dark, neutral colors such as these will always look formal enough for a funeral. In addition, choosing darker colors such as these is traditionally considered the most “proper” funeral attire.
These days, in Western culture, dress codes are generally becoming more relaxed when it comes to funerals.
But dark suits are still considered the norm and 3-piece suits are no exception.
Another great thing about sticking to black, charcoal, or navy blue would be that they’re easy to color match with your items of clothing such as the necktie and dress shoes.
That’s why going neutral with the suit is always the best option. You don’t want a mismatch of colors as it’ll immediately draw attention.
During a funeral, drawing attention to yourself is exactly what you don’t want.
You’ve got plenty of options when it comes to the fabric of your suit. In many ways, the color of your 3-piece suit is more important than the fabric you choose.
Consider the weather when making your choice. Rugged and warm woolen fabrics like tweed and gabardine can work in cooler climates, especially when a lot of the funeral service is going to be outside.
Cotton suits would also work well.
But avoid shiny 3-piece suits, as these are too attention-grabbing. A shiny sharkskin suit may be perfectly acceptable for a wedding or a night out at the theater, but it would not be appropriate for a funeral.
3. White Dress Shirts Work Best
The main risk with wearing a 3-piece suit is that it comes across too “showy” for a funeral.
Ultimately, funerals aren’t occasions where your aim is to show everyone how great your sense of style is. All you really want to do is show respect for the deceased and their family.
While it’s usually fine to wear a 3-piece suit to a funeral, you’ll want to keep the rest of your items as subtle as possible.
This includes your shirt.
It would be a mistake to choose a brightly-colored or patterned shirt under your 3-piece, simply because it’ll usually come across too flashy and dapper.
Sticking to a simple white dress shirt would be a much more subtle and understated option.
It’s also incredibly versatile, pairing well with practically any color of suit, tie, and shoes.
While French cuffs (with cufflinks) are usually fine when wearing a simple 2-piece suit to a funeral, they may be a little too much when wearing a 3-piece suit.
In order to keep things simple and not seem as though you’re dressing up too much, avoid French cuffs and stick to regular button cuffs instead.
4. Go For A Solid-Colored Necktie
Neckties are important when wearing a 3-piece suit. Without one, it’ll often look incomplete. When dressing for a funeral, stick to a dark, neutral, solid-colored tie.
While it doesn’t need to match the suit, good options for your tie would be black, navy blue, grey, and dark burgundy red.
In addition to choosing the right color, avoid patterns.
Patterned neckties often look fancier and more eye-catching than simple, solid-colored ones.
When wearing a 3-piece suit, you’ll want to be even more cautious of this. Always go for a solid, dark, neutral color.
While bow ties can be worn to funerals, it’s usually best to avoid wearing one if you’re wearing a 3-piece.
A 3-piece suit with a bow tie will look too showy and too fancy like you were attending a dance and not a funeral.
Not a good idea.
5. Add Black Or Dark Brown Dress Shoes
When dressing for a funeral, go for black or dark brown leather dress shoes. While suede would be reasonable, a shinier grain such as calfskin or cowhide would usually be more appropriate.
Dark leather will always pair well with a 3-piece suit, but sticking to darker colors should ensure that the combination looks funeral-appropriate.
Black and dark brown are versatile enough to wear with black, charcoal, and navy blue suits.
But even lighter shades of brown such as tan brown can look too casual and inappropriate for a funeral.
Overall, the darker the better.
The style of dress shoe you choose to wear with your 3-piece suit is less important than the color.
Oxford shoes would be the most traditional and formal option, but Derby shoes, monk straps, and even loafers would work as well.
Subtle brogue patterns such as quarter-brogue or half-brogue would be reasonable, but avoid wingtips if possible.
Wingtips (i.e full brogues) are more appropriate for more casual and relaxed occasions.
6. Consider An Overcoat
While an overcoat over a 3-piece suit does look stylish, when it comes to a funeral, its benefits are more practical.
Segments of the funeral can take place both indoors and outdoors.
Because of this, layering may well be important, especially in colder weather.
Wearing a 3-piece suit is, in itself, a good way of layering. You’ve got the option of taking the suit jacket off when attending the wake, for instance. It leaves the vest behind to give at least a little bit of warmth.
But an overcoat would be wise when attending a windy burial, for instance.
Just like you did with your suit, stick to dark and neutral colors. Overcoats with elements of black, blue, grey, or charcoal would be best.
Formal, but versatile enough to wear with many of your other suits as well.
7. Avoid Pocket Squares And Boutonnieres
Avoid pocket squares and boutonnieres when wearing a 3-piece suit to a funeral. They’ll make the entire outfit look too dressy and will draw too much attention during the service.
It isn’t a subtle or understated look.
While white pocket squares with a straight fold would usually be OK to wear with a 2-piece suit to a funeral, boutonnieres would never be.
Even with a 2-piece suit, a boutonniere would look too dressy.
You don’t want to look as though you want to be a focus of attention at a funeral.
Wearing a 3-piece suit would be fine, but be very careful not to over-accessorize it. It’s simply not the right time.
Sticking to this tip, as well as the others on this list should ensure that you’re dressed respectfully for the occasion.
Not overdressed, but not underdressed either.