Knowing what to wear to a funeral can be tricky. Underdressing is never a good feeling, but people often forget about overdressing. The question is, can you wear a tuxedo to a funeral?
A tuxedo should not be worn to a funeral because it will look too dressy, draw attention, and make it seem as though you’re trying to impress. Instead, wear a 2-piece suit in a dark, neutral tone, or even a pair of dark slacks with a blazer.
Although that’s the short answer, there’s more to it.
After going through the main reasons why it would not be appropriate, I’ll talk through what you should be wearing instead.
Let’s get to it.
3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Tuxedo To A Funeral
After reading these, there shouldn’t be any doubt left in your mind.
1. It’s A Traditionally Festive Outfit
The tuxedo is usually worn to festive evening events. It would look pretty out of place at a funeral where the mood would be anything but that.
Think about where else you may have worn that very same tuxedo.
Balls, theaters, dances, ballets, operas, and so on.
These are nights where you want to dress up, and the occasions are those where you want to let loose and enjoy yourself.
A funeral would not be one of them.
Instead, you’ll want to wear a subtle and understated outfit that is more neutral in its aesthetic.
While a black 2-piece suit would be the safest and most traditional thing to wear to a funeral as it’s most in line with the overall mood.
Dress codes have relaxed in the last couple of decades. However, sticking to a dark suit would always be better than anything lighter or brighter.
It makes it clear that you’ve made an effort to intentionally choose a funeral-appropriate outfit.
2. You’ll Stand Out
At a funeral, you don’t want to stand out from the crowd. It’s a day where your choice of outfit should not be a focus of attention.
Wearing a tuxedo definitely increases the risk of this happening.
A key reason for this is that it’s simply an unusual choice.
At the end of the day, most people in attendance will not be wearing a tuxedo. It’s not a common choice.
While there would be worse things you could wear to a funeral, a tuxedo is unwise because it’ll draw attention toward you and your outfit.
Instead, you’ll want to wear something that’s as common and subtle as possible.
That’s why a 2-piece suit in a dark, neutral tone would, once again, work so well.
3. It’ll Look Like You’re Trying To Impress
Wearing a tuxedo to a funeral will give off the impression that you’re trying to impress the crowd.
While dressing to impress is usually something to strive for, at a funeral, it would usually be considered awkward or even distasteful.
It’s why over-accessorizing is also discouraged when attending a funeral.
While a simple, white pocket square with a straight fold would usually be OK, peaked or puffed pocket squares would be a step too far.
Boutonnieres should definitely be avoided when attending a funeral for the same reason.
Bow ties can be worn to funerals together with a 2-piece suit (not a tuxedo), but it’s generally best to avoid them altogether. Stick to neckties instead.
Keeping it simple is always a good idea.
If you feel as though something you’re wearing comes across as fancy or dressy, it’s probably best to avoid it.
Alternatives To A Tuxedo For A Funeral
Here are the main outfits you should consider instead of a tuxedo. While opinions can vary, sticking to these should ensure there’s no risk of overdressing or underdressing.
Dress Pants With A Blazer
It won’t be quite as good as a 2-piece suit, but it’s definitely better than a tuxedo.
Dress pants are versatile because they have a distinctly formal edge to them, but you can still pair them with non-matching sports coats and blazers.
This is unlike suit pants which need to be worn with their matching suit jacket.
Dress pants can be made from a variety of different fabrics, but are often made from wool or wool-synthetic blends.
This often gives them a natural sheen, making them look more formal than a simple pair of jeans or chinos, for example.
That’s why a dark pair of dress pants (a.k.a slacks) would be a reasonable option when dressing for a funeral.
Black, charcoal, dark grey, or navy blue.
They’re just about formal enough.
However, if you’re going to wear dress pants instead of a full suit, do make sure you wear either a blazer or sports coat and a dress shirt up top.
Dress pants with more casual items up top (eg. polo shirts) would not be OK.
The blazer, much like the dress pants, should also be a dark and neutral color, despite not having to match.
A 2-piece suit would be the best option by far. It’s simple, formal enough, and most people already have one tucked away in their wardrobe.
While it’s tough to go wrong with a 2-piece suit, sticking to dark, neutral colors is, once again, the best option for a funeral.
Black, charcoal, dark grey, or navy blue.
If you wear a 2-piece suit in one of these colors, the rest of the outfit will fall into place, nearly ensuring that you won’t set a foot wrong.
Wearing a white dress shirt would be the most versatile option, as it’s easy to combine with any of the colors listed above.
French cuffs would be reasonable as cufflinks aren’t all that dressy. But a simple, single-buttoned barrel cuff would usually be equally fine.
The necktie you choose should also be dark, although it doesn’t need to match the suit.
Burgundy red would be reasonable if you wanted a change from the usual dark and neutral colors.
Keep things simple with the shoes – go for black or dark brown leather dress shoes. You don’t want the shoes to stand out or contrast the suit too much. Even a lighter shade of brown such as tan brown could do that.
Remember, it’s a day where you don’t want any part of your outfit to stand out too much. In many ways, a monochromatic-ish appearance wouldn’t be the worst.
So, avoid tuxedos when attending a funeral. You’ve got better options that won’t look as awkward or out of place.