Throughout the decades, fashion has evolved throughout society, and funeral society is no exception. In the olden days (circa 1800s-early 1900s), when someone died, much attention was placed on what the mourners wore, much more attention than they receive today. In fact, “mourning attire” was all the rage back then.
Following a death, it was not uncommon for all-black outfits to be worn for an extended period of mourning. A good example of this:
Queen Victoria (1819-1901)
Britain’s Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, shared a love story for the ages. When he died quite unexpectedly at the age of 42, Victoria fell into a deep depression and never fully recovered. She famously wore black for the rest of her life (almost four decades) as a symbol of her sorrow.
Note: Believe it or not, much of today’s fashion trends come directly out of the Victorian Era. During her reign, British and Americans alike emulated her style, setting fashion standards for the rest of the civilized world. It’s no secret that Victoria was the first to wear a white gown for her wedding, setting that standard…and some say that she is also the reason wearing all-black funeral clothes became mainstream.
To understand modern funeral fashion, we first need to take a look at modern funeral etiquette. What is appropriate to wear to a funeral today? While much is dependent on the culture surrounding the funeral in question, generally, dark colors are still the way to go. Black, navy, dark violet, and dark greens are all appropriate options, especially when one is unsure of what to wear. But, as always, fashion trends are changing.
As time goes on, some families are now choosing to opt out of the traditional dark, sad clothing. Some even request that those who attend the funeral of their loved one avoid dark garments and instead go for bright, colorful looks (for a celebration of life or homegoing rather than a funeral). That said, conservative dress is usually still deemed appropriate for the modern funeral service, no matter the color choice.
As today’s funerals continue to drift away from the traditional order of solemnity (featuring the usual visitation and subsequent order of funeral and burial), and more into the realm of personalization, we will inevitably see more changes in funeral fashion trends.