What to Wear to a Wake: Choosing the Right Attire

Published August 26, 2020
Woman wearing black respectfully folding her hands

You don't need to worry about what to wear to a wake when you have a few guidelines on choosing the right attire. A good rule of thumb is to be respectful in choosing your wake outfit.

What to Wear to a Wake

When you need to attend a wake, choose clothes that steer clear of anything that is risqué. Traditionally, a wake is considered a formal event opposed to a causal gathering. However, some cultures or families may prefer a more casual wake. If you're uncertain, check either with the family or someone close to the family.

Color Choices for Wake Attire

Subdued colors are traditional color choices for wake attire. Black is always a safe color for any event associated with mourning. Other darker colors, such as navy, gray, and brown are also commonly worn.

People in blur wearing black suits at wake

Patterns Choices for Wake Attire

You don't want to wear anything that has a busy or large pattern. Solid colors are your safest choice. However, if you decide to wear something with a pattern, chose something that is simple and not overpowering.

What to Wear to a Wake Male

The clothing choices for a male to wear to a wake offer several options.

  • Wear any business attire, such as a suit or dress shirt and tie.
  • A pair of suit trousers, a crisp dress shirt, and a tie are perfectly acceptable.
  • You may want to wear a pair of dark pants with a white shirt and a subdued tie design, preferably a dark tie as opposed to a pink or red tie.
  • Dress shoes are appropriate footwear.
Man wearing formal wear standing in a airport with luggage

Can You Wear Jeans to a Wake?

Unless you know in advance that the wake you are attending is a casual event, you should never wear jeans or any casual clothing to a wake. Most attire for wakes is business dress or Sunday dress. Anything less is considered disrespectful. If you have no choice but to wear jeans, then add a crisp white dress shirt and a blazer to dress up the look.

Can You Wear Khakis to a Wake?

If you live in a region, like the Southeast US, then Khakis colored dress pants are acceptable business attire when worn with a navy blue, blue, or other dark sports jacket. A white dress shirt with a conservative tie is a common business attire in the South and Southeast states, especially during the spring and summer months when lighter colored clothing is worn.

Men's smart casual clothing

What to Wear to a Wake Female

Women can choose business attire or Sunday attire.

  • A combination of a business jacket, skirt, and blouse is one possible outfit.
  • You can wear a pair of dress slacks, a jacket and a blouse.
  • You may decide to wear a pair of dark dress slacks or dark skirt with a sweater set.
  • Accessorize with a string of pearls and pearl earrings for a more formal touch.
  • A dark colored dress is also a common choice for wake attire.
  • Add a jacket or blazer for a more business attire look.
  • Dress shoes are appropriate footwear.

What to Wear to a Wake in the Summer

Summer months mean lighter colored clothing. You can wear lighter fabrics, but you want the colors to be subdued. Instead of a business suit, men can wear pants, shirt, and tie. A woman may opt for a skirt and blouse, dress slacks and blouse, or a dark colored summer dress.

Two office colleagues having coffee in a park

Can You Wear Shorts to a Wake?

Unless the family indicates an extremely casual dress code is appropriate, don't wear shorts, short skirts, or rompers to a wake. Instead, opt to lighten up by wearing lighter, breathable fabrics.

What to Wear to a Wake in Winter

Winter wear is bulkier than other seasonal wear by necessity. Depending on the region where you live, it might be perfectly acceptable to show up in a pair of snow boots, sweater, and pants for a wake. In milder climates, stick to business or Sunday attire in subdued colors. Dress coats and gloves should be removed upon arrival. If you are uncertain about what is acceptable winter wear, inquire through the funeral home or friend of the family.

Business couple on city street

Choosing What to Wear to a Wake

When you look at your existing wardrobe to find appropriate attire for a wake, always go for the conservative look. The last thing you want to do is insult the grieving family by showing up at the wake wearing the wrong attire.

What to Wear to a Wake: Choosing the Right Attire