How to Dress for Wake

I guess I should start by saying why I decided to write something like this. The first reason came about a while back when a co-worker of mine lost a parent. Our group wanted to do something for her, we got money together and sent her flowers and decided we would go to the wake. Now this was when I got asked what should be worn for the wake. I was puzzled and shocked to begin with. Then I was curious as to whether they had ever attended a wake let alone a funeral. I assumed they had the funeral but definitely not the wake from the sounds of it.

So I started to wonder, do other people have this problem? Are they questioning what to wear to a wake, like they question what to wear on a date? Or have they never attended one? Or do they just general not know?

Anyway, lets get started.

When someone you care about loses someone, it’s definitely isn’t easy for them or you. Odds are you probably knew the person they lost or you see what they are going through. I do believe that you may not know the person that they lost. Either way, it’s definitely not a happy time or something that people want to go through.

So while they are figuring out the entire funeral and burial plans, they will need someone to lean on. That person varies from person to person. Some people do not like to discuss the situation, others are the exact opposite. Again, this varies from person to person.

I want to also point out that the “correct way” or “what to do” also varies from family and person to person. Some families are very strict, others open. It also depends on the person religions and culture they were raised in. This is the part where I’d expect you to do some research if you are unsure.

However, there are some safe nets and that’s what I want to talk about.

The best thing you can do is dress simple and be polite. I don’t mean in your manner, because that should be given during this time but in how your clothes look. I hate to say that your clothes make a statement but honestly they really do in this situation. You can be casual or formal. Each option is open, but remember this varies from situation to situation.

The fail safe, if you are unsure if you can get away with a pair of jeans or not, formal is the best. That means guys in dress pants and the women in dress wear (I’d say dresses but we can full out a suit too). No bright colors, please this goes for everything unless it is stated by the family.

This goes to one of those weird situations I have actually been in. The person who died (who was a grandparent to a friend of mine) didn’t want a traditional funeral/wake. She wanted people to be happy and to have a party to celebrate her life. She wanted it to be anything but formal and traditional. So dress in bright and come with a story to share with a smile. Definitely not typical but it was wonderful.

Anyway, your fail safe is for course formal. Black is the best color in any situation. Black is basically what the family will wear and that is just what we always have for a wake. There are difference for a wake and a funeral, trust me. If you are going to go for not being formal, make sure you know you wont be given a “what the hell” look. I want to stress this in case someone does this and I get the slam comment back. Do your homework people.

For the casual items this is still a more formal casual but you can wear jeans. When I say jeans, these are not the ones with holes in them or that they haven’t been washed in weeks. These jeans are clean and fresh looking. Your shirt can be anything but something you’d probably get from Hot Topic (I love Hot Topic trust me). The shirt can have a pattern but a plain one. Your shirt can’t have any writing on it. Remember this is more casual formal than a going out to the bar last minute thing.

Most situations you can get away with jeans and a nice shirt. A dark pair of jeans and a dresser shirt I was usual go to items. Yes I have been to several wakes and funerals in my life. All of which were different from each other, just as the person who we are remembering is. All of this is important.

Now you’re probably wondering what happens says if the wake is right after you get out of work. Well you can go in what you came from work in, but I wouldn’t stay long in any case. Or you can bring a change of clothes to put on before you leave for it. Either way, be smart.

I hope this helps. I don’t want to submit you into something that may not be right for all situations. Use your knowledge and best judgement. It may help to research if you are attending something that is not in your religion or culture. Either way, be clean and polite, this is a time no one wants to go through but we all do.

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