I unfortunately plan to attend the funerals of older family members, relatives and very close friends over the next few months with good weather and, most likely, in the fall and winter, related to Covid and no. Can you advise what to wear? I need to be prepared. Edith, New York. new York
It is indeed a sad situation, but I think more and more of us may experience it as vaccine advances allow us to come together again, not just for the celebrations, but for the mourning and commemoration group that was denied to us last year.
It may seem odd to worry about what to wear given the tragedy so many people have gone through, but dressing properly is a mark of respect for the person whose absence is marked and a way of honor his life.
And the funeral clothes are not as clear, in terms of the rules, as they once were. As all dress codes are gone, so is the funeral dress code. This is not one of those cases where you can ask the host, unless the host has actually specified a look. (This can happen if the deceased had a favorite color or clear requests. Hunter Thompson, for example, received fireworks at his funeral.)
Wearing dark, predominantly black colors during funerals has been a tradition in the West since the Romans, according to a number of funeral homes that post advice online, but black really became part of the culture when Queen Victoria adopted weeds from her widow after Prince Albert’s death in 1861.
In other cultures, the funeral robe can be white (East Asia), red (South Africa), and even purple (Brazil), so do your research on the legacy of the person you remember. It’s safe to say that neon is probably not a good idea.
Indeed, the only caveat to keep in mind when dressing to grieve is to opt for clothes that do not draw attention to yourself. This is a moment that does not concern you. No ripped jeans, overexposed body parts or wild animal prints. No jangly accessories.
Men should opt for collars, buttons and long pants. For women, a wrap dress is a good option, as is a shortened jumpsuit or simply an elegant round neck dress. (Sleeves are important.) Look for fabrics like silk, gauze, and muslin, which are both lightweight and stackable. Look at the Duchess of Cambridge, who pretty much wrote the proper dress-up manual, and the cloak she wore at Prince Philips’ funeral.
This is an item that you unfortunately risk wearing again, so it is worth the investment (this dress for example). Also optional: well-cut pants or culottes and a graceful blouse. Or even a patterned tea dress, if the pattern is relatively subtle.
The point is, the point should be to express your love for those to whom you are bidding farewell. Dress for them.
Your style questions, answers
Each week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a fashion readers question, which you can send her anytime via E-mail or Twitter. The questions are edited and condensed.
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