It’s no secret that funerals are an incredibly sensitive occasion. It’s important for this to be signified through the use of black or dark attire. But what about footwear? Would it be inappropriate to wear white shoes to a funeral?
White shoes should generally be avoided at a funeral unless the option to wear white shoes has been provided by the family in mourning. Wearing white shoes without such approval could be seen as insensitive or disrespectful to those in attendance.
While that’s the general consensus, there are, however, some exceptions in which wearing white shoes could be acceptable. But first, we’ll look at why it is usually unacceptable.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wear White Shoes To A Funeral
These factors should all play a crucial role in your decision, regardless of the conclusion you reach.
1. You Risk Being Seen As Disrespectful
One of the most common elements of a funeral is a general and often unspoken respect toward both the family and those in attendance.
Black or dark clothing has long been the chosen color for funeral attire, and there are many reasons for that. It’s important to keep in mind the sensitive nature of the occasion.
The attention your white pair of shoes could draw would be unnecessary, and could be seen as somewhat insensitive.
The last thing you want to do at a funeral is unwittingly disrespect those around you, even though that is not your intention.
2. You Are Drawing Attention Away From The Event
Given the rest of your outfit is likely to be black or darkly colored, the sheer brightness of white shoes will create a contrast so clear that it would be distracting from the event.
It could also be perceived that you want to stand out amongst the crowd who will likely be wearing similar colored dark clothing.
A funeral is not the time or place to try such a bold decision, and you risk alienating yourself from your fellow attendees.
It’s an important event for everyone involved – which is why you cannot afford to undermine the dress code.
3. It’s Not Going To Be Visually Consistent
As we briefly touched upon, the dress code for a funeral generally requires those in attendance to wear plain and dark clothing – the idea being that everyone is united through their grief.
It is therefore assumed that you will be wearing such garments – say, a black blazer or smart jacket.
As such, wearing bright white shoes is not only going to look completely out of place – but it will also dampen the rest of your attire.
Even if you are wearing a long-sleeved white shirt, it’s still not going to match the sheer visual intensity that a white pair of shoes will create.
The weather is another factor you need to take into account. As anyone with a white car will tell you, even the slightest fleck of dirt will show up on white, which will muddy your look and suggest you’re poorly prepared for the event at hand.
2 Exceptions When Wearing White Shoes To Funerals Might Be OK
While it should generally be considered inappropriate, there may be a couple of rare exceptions to consider.
1. A Casual Dress Code Has Been Announced
Some funerals do not require a formal dress code. In fact, some funerals may specifically state that casual attire would be welcome. Perhaps the family wants a more laid-back style of funeral as they feel that’s what their loved one would have wanted.
Technically, this does mean you can wear whatever colors and garments suit you best. If these include white shoes, then so be it.
However, such a lax dress code is likely to be a rarity, given the traditionally formal dress requirements of a Western funeral.
2. You Have Been Granted Permission
While you may still receive some unwanted attention, you may be permitted to wear white shoes if you have received prior permission.
Some families will feel strongly that all in attendance should wear black or dark attire, while there may be some more willing to permit the use of white shoes.
Again, this is often a rarity – but it is not entirely unheard of.
Ultimately, it’s definitely not a question you want to bother the family with at a time like this. So overall, it’s likely not going to be an option.
2 Tips For Wearing White Shoes To Funerals (If You Must)
Again, don’t do it. But if you were intent on doing it, here are a couple of tips for doing so in the least disrespectful way possible.
1. Do Not Add Anything Else
While it might be tempting to go one step further and match the white pair of shoes with, say, a matching white tie or lined handkerchief in your breast pocket – it’s definitely best not to.
This is because it could appear to others that you are using the funeral as a way of making a fashion statement, or that you are trying to express yourself through unconventional funeral attire.
This is not what you want people to be thinking on the day of the funeral.
Your white pair of shoes is likely to be considered “too much” in any case.
If you have to wear white shoes – that is as far as the boldness of your attire should stretch. Do not add further elements as you risk overdoing it, no matter how tempting it may be.
2. Consider Off-White or Beige Instead
Although white is a plain and simple color – there are several shades and pigments that could affect the appearance of your white pair of shoes.
Choose a shade of “white” that appears to be a lower saturation or contrast, as opposed to the typical bright and harsh look of the color.
While you may still stand out, the lower brightness of the shoes will, at the very least, dull their overall presence – if little else.
The less those white shoes contrast the rest of your outfit and the outfits of those around you, the better.
With a white pair of shoes, you could very well stand out and make it look as though you feel the event is about you – even though that is not the desired case.
You’d be much better matched wearing something like a black pair of Oxfords or Derby shoes.
These should be clean, but not overly shiny or polished – as again, the emphasis at a funeral should not be upon you or your outfit.
Avoid wearing white shoes to a funeral wherever possible.
Keep things simple by wearing a matching pair of black shoes and a darkly colored blazer or suit.
As always, you should consider the stated requirements of the dress code and adhere to them as necessary.