What to Wear to a Memorial Service [Pictures Inside]

Wondering what to wear to a memorial service? Get inspiration with these outfit ideas for both men and women inside.

Choosing what to wear to a memorial service can be a little daunting if you aren’t sure what the memorial service dress code is. 

This guide aims to take that worry off your plate, allowing you to focus on paying respects and celebrating the life of your loved one. 

Let’s dive into specifics on what to wear at a memorial service to ensure you feel appropriately dressed, comfortable, and respectful.

What to wear to a memorial service

The key to memorial service attire is respect and subtlety. Opt for subdued, conservative clothing that honors the occasion. Think muted colors, modest cuts, and an overall understated elegance.

For men, this often means a suit or dress pants with a collared shirt. Women might consider a dress or blouse with slacks or a modest skirt.

If you're unsure about the dress code for the memorial service, it's always best to wear something more formal and conservative.

Men's memorial service attire guidelines

For men, the aim is dignified simplicity. A dark suit is a universally accepted choice. If a suit feels too formal, dark dress pants with a long-sleeved shirt and a subdued tie can also be appropriate.

Building your outfit

Now that you have the foundation, let's explore some outfit options:

Formal settings:

A well-tailored suit in charcoal gray or navy blue is the most formal option. Pair it with a crisp white or light blue dress shirt and a subdued tie in a solid color or subtle pattern.

For a slightly less formal approach, swap the tie for a dark sweater.

Men's formal attire for a memorial service

Semi-formal settings:

Dark dress pants in wool or a wool blend paired with a long-sleeved, collared shirt in a neutral color like light blue or white create a polished look. A tie is optional, but if you choose to wear one, keep it simple.

If the weather is chilly, a well-fitting blazer in a similar color to your pants adds a layer of warmth and formality. Choose a classic style with minimal detailing.

Outdoor or informal settings:

For outdoor services or more casual settings, dark-colored chinos can be a practical choice. Opt for a classic straight-leg cut and avoid overly distressed styles.

Pair your chinos with a long-sleeve button-down shirt in a neutral color and a cardigan or pullover sweater in a subdued tone.

Men's attire for a semi-formal or outdoor memorial service

Men’s memorial service outfit examples:

Women's memorial service attire guidelines

When choosing an outfit for a memorial service, women should strive for a look that combines elegance and respect for the occasion. Here are some key principles to follow, along with outfit ideas for different settings:

Building your outfit

Now that you have the foundation, let's explore some memorial service outfit options for women.

Formal settings:

A knee-length or midi dress in a dark or neutral tone is a reliable choice. Look for a simple, well-maintained dress that's neither too tight nor too loose. For warmer weather, choose breathable fabrics like cotton or a cotton blend.

If needed, add a cardigan or blazer in a similar color to the dress for extra warmth. Choose a classic style without excessive buttons or embellishments.

For an alternative to a dress, consider trousers or a knee-length skirt paired with a simple blouse in a muted color.

Women's formal attire for a memorial service

Semi-formal settings:

For a semi-formal memorial service, either at a casual location such as a community center or restaurant, or even someone’s home, opt for something comfortable and conservative.

You don’t need to adhere strictly to black or navy but that is usually the convention. Here’s an outfit example: A pair of dark brown slacks with a light blue, long-sleeve blouse, complemented by a black blazer and closed-toe pumps with a small heel.

Outdoor or informal settings:

For outdoor services in warm weather, a modest sundress can be appropriate. Choose a dress with a longer hemline, and avoid anything too short, tight, or flashy.

A simple floral pattern in muted tones is acceptable.

A tailored jumpsuit in a subdued color can be a modern and comfortable alternative. Ensure the jumpsuit has a clean silhouette and avoid anything with large, eye-catching patterns.

Women's attire for a semi-formal or outdoor memorial service


Opt for layers if the weather is unpredictable and the memorial service is outdoors

Consider the location and venue

The setting of the memorial service can significantly influence your attire choice. Here's a breakdown tailored to common locations:

Outdoor memorial services:

Indoor memorial services:

What to wear to a religious memorial service

Religious services often come with specific dress codes that reflect the traditions and customs of the faith. Here are some general guidelines:

Frequently asked questions

What is appropriate to wear to a memorial service?

Appropriate attire is modest, subdued, and respectful. Dark or neutral colors are preferred, with an emphasis on simplicity and elegance.

What is the best color to wear to a memorial service?

While black is traditional and universally accepted, other dark or muted colors like navy, charcoal, or forest green are also appropriate. In some cultures, white or specific colors may be preferred.

Are you supposed to bring something to a memorial service?

While not mandatory, a small token of condolence, such as flowers or a card, can be a thoughtful gesture. Always consider the family's wishes, as they might have specific requests or preferences.

The bottom line

We hope this guide helps answer the question of what to wear to a memorial service. If you or someone you know is navigating the emotional landscape of memorial service planning, remember that you aren’t alone.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, Meadow offers a helping hand. We understand the weight of this moment and aim to provide a compassionate approach. Our team of memorial planners can give guidance and support in creating a personalized celebration of life that reflects the unique qualities of your loved one.

Our team is available 24/7 to guide you through this process. Explore our personalized memorial services to honor your loved one, on your own terms.