Dress codes aren’t usually specified for funerals. That’s what makes it so tricky. The risk of underdressing is real and some thought is required to prevent it. The question is, can you wear black jeans to a funeral?
Black jeans should not be worn to a funeral. The rugged texture of black denim will always come across too casual for the occasion and may even be considered disrespectful. A pair of dark slacks or a 2-piece suit would be more appropriate than black jeans.
Although that’s the short answer, as always, there’s more to it.
After going through the main reasons why you should avoid them in more detail, I’ll talk through a few alternatives you should go for instead.
At the end, I’ve thrown in a few tips for wearing them if you absolutely had to.
Let’s get to it.
3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wear Black Jeans To A Funeral
After reading these, you’ll probably decide against it. They’re pretty hard to deny.
1. It Can Look Disrespectful
Wearing black jeans to a funeral will usually come across as disrespectful. It won’t be your intention, but it’s the unfortunate truth.
A funeral is an event where you’ll want to dress up to an extent. Not doing so can come across as disrespectful to the deceased and their family.
Ultimately, you want to strike a balance.
You don’t want to dress up to a point where it becomes inappropriate.
A 3-piece suit you could probably get away with.
A pocket square may be OK with a straight, presidential fold.
But a boutonniere would be a step too far. It isn’t supposed to be somewhere you want to draw attention with your sense of style. It isn’t supposed to be fancy or elegant.
Having said that, you’ll want to dress up to the point where it’s considered respectful.
Unfortunately, black jeans don’t meet the mark and will almost certainly come across as disrespectful to at least a few people in attendance.
The trouble with black jeans, or jeans in general, is that you could literally have worn them anywhere.
You could have worn them to the movie theater the night before or to the bar the night before that.
While it’s not going to be the intention, you’re basically telling people that you haven’t made any effort to dress up for a special and somber occasion.
2. They’re Hard To Pair With Formal Items
If you were planning on wearing black jeans to a funeral, there’s a good chance you were also going to be wearing more formal items to make up for how casual they look.
A dress shirt, a blazer, a sport coat, or a necktie, for example.
While these items can and often are worn with jeans, when dressing for a funeral, there will often be a formality mismatch.
It just won’t look right.
It’ll look incomplete, almost like a mish-mash of casual and formal items without much thought behind it.
The rugged texture of denim will always look casual. It’s what’s made jeans an iconic staple of casual attire around the world.
No matter how “casual” you think a funeral is going to be, it’s never going to be that casual.
Black jeans just won’t cut it. Not only will they look too casual in themselves, but they’ll also make the more formal items you’re trying to pair them with look awkward at the same time.
3. It Can Draw Attention
A funeral is not somewhere you want to draw attention to yourself in any way. That principle remains true for both overdressing and underdressing.
Unfortunately, wearing black jeans is a quick way to draw people’s attention due to underdressing.
At a funeral, you’ll want to slip quietly into the crowd and not wear anything that catches the eye.
It’s why dark, neutral colors are so important to wear when attending.
It’s a day where you want to turn up and pay your respects – that’s about it. You don’t want to become a focus of attention at all.
It may sound strange to some people. In fact, some even go so far as to say that you could literally wear anything to a funeral as it’s not a day where someone’s sense of dress matters at all.
While this is true to an extent, it’s not a wise train of thought.
What you wear to a funeral does matter, because ultimately you don’t want to be the person who was seen as too relaxed. This won’t be the underlying truth, but will most likely be the unfortunate impression.
Plus, there are so many alternatives you can wear instead – why take the risk?
Let’s discuss those alternatives now.
Alternatives To Black Jeans For A Funeral
I need to start by saying that a dark, neutral 2-piece suit is the best option when dressing for a funeral.
I’ll be discussing that last.
But here are a couple of alternatives to black jeans if you didn’t have a 2-piece suit to hand or simply weren’t keen on wearing one.
1. Dark Chinos
Chinos are not an ideal option for funerals, but they’re better than black jeans.
The texture of chino cloth is still rugged enough to be considered casual, but chinos have the benefit of versatility.
They’re considered acceptable to wear for dress codes such as smart-casual and business-casual.
If you had a pair of chinos to wear, there’s a chance they may be acceptable to wear to the funeral.
The main criteria, however, is that they need to be dark.
Chinos come in a huge variety of colors, although the classic khaki-colored chinos are the most common.
This color wouldn’t be appropriate for a funeral as it’s too light and too bright.
A black pair of chinos could be appropriate, with a dark navy blue a less preferable second option.
2. Dark Slacks
Slacks (a.k.a dress pants) are much more appropriate than black jeans when dressing for a funeral.
Dress pants are usually made from wool or a synthetic wool blend which often gives them more of a sheen. This makes them look a lot more formal than jeans.
They also often have other “formal” features such as center creases down the pant legs. In addition, they rarely have decorative stitching or patch pockets.
If you weren’t keen on a suit, a pair of dark slacks with a dress shirt and blazer would be a reasonable alternative.
But once again, make sure the slacks are dark and neutral in color.
3. A 2-Piece Suit
This is, by far, the best option.
When dressing for a funeral, you really can’t go wrong with a dark 2-piece suit.
Black, dark navy blue, or charcoal grey.
It’s simple, sophisticated (enough), and effortlessly respectful.
4 Tips For Wearing Black Jeans To A Funeral (If You Have To)
If you really had no other choice or were simply intent on wearing black jeans to a funeral, here are a few tips to help you do it in the most respectful way possible.
1. Avoid Ripped Jeans
No matter how dark, clean, and fitting they were, ripped jeans will always look inappropriate at a funeral.
There’s really no way around that.
They’ll instantly come across as too casual.
2. Avoid Acid Wash Jeans
Avoid black jeans with any kind of acid wash or stonewash finish.
Once again, it’s hard to find a “formal” looking pair of black jeans that have any sort of faded effect.
3. The Darker The Better
While we’ve been talking about “black jeans” for a while now, it’s important to note that “black” can refer to a range of colors.
What you may regard as “black”, another may refer to as dark grey.
Ultimately, it’s important to really look at your black jeans and decide whether it’s a black that’s really dark enough for the occasion.
If you were going to wear black jeans for a funeral, the darker the better.
4. Make Sure They Fit Well
Finally, avoid black jeans that are too baggy or too skinny.
A tapered pair of slim-fit jeans would be your best option here as they’re the least likely to come across as too casual.
There are plenty of reasons why black jeans shouldn’t be worn to a funeral, but the main one is that they’ll usually be too casual to be considered appropriate.
At the end of the day, a pair of dark dress slacks or a 2-piece suit would be so much better.