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what to wear to a wake

What to Wear to a Wake: A Guide to Dress Appropriately

Knowing what to wear to a wake is important to show respect and empathy to the deceased and family.
Apr 29, 2024

When you are invited to a wake, it’s important to dress appropriately. Therefore, you should know about what to wear to a wake. In many cases, the family will ask you to wear certain clothes or dress codes. Regardless, you should make sure to dress appropriately.

A wake or viewing ceremony is a time for family and friends to gather, show condolences, and pay respects to the deceased. It's a solemn event and your attire should reflect this atmosphere.

To help you come up with the right attire, this article will share how to dress for a wake appropriately. Understanding the appropriate dress code can help navigate the process with grace and dignity.

What to Wear to a Wake for Men

For men attending a wake, it's important to choose attire that reflects respect and solemnity. Traditional funeral attire is typically appropriate, with a focus on conservative and understated clothing choices. Here's a guide on what to wear:

1. Suit

A dark-colored suit is a classic and appropriate cloth for a wake. Opt for colors like black, charcoal gray, or navy blue. A well-fitted suit demonstrates respect for the occasion and the grieving family.

2. Shirt

Pair your suit with a collared dress shirt in a subtle, muted color such as white, light gray, or pale blue. Avoid vibrant or patterned shirts, opting instead for solid colors that convey dignity and reverence.

3. Tie

Complete your look with a conservative tie. Choose solid colors or subtle patterns like stripes or small dots. Darker shades are generally preferred, but you can also coordinate your tie with the color of your suit for a cohesive appearance.

4. Shoes

Wear polished dress shoes in black or dark brown to complement your outfit. Oxfords or loafers are classic choices that add a touch of sophistication. Ensure that your shoes are clean and well-maintained.

5. Accessories

Keep accessories minimal and understated. A simple watch, cufflinks, and a dark-colored belt are suitable additions that enhance your ensemble without being distracting.

6. Grooming

Pay attention to personal grooming and hygiene. Ensure that your hair is neatly styled, and your facial hair, if any, is trimmed and well-groomed. A clean and polished appearance reflects your respect for the occasion and the grieving family.

Read also: How to Dress in Your 30s with Confidence and Sophistication

What to Wear to a Wake for Women

When choosing on what to wear to a wake, women should opt for modest and respectful clothing that reflects the solemnity of the occasion. Here's a guide on what to wear:

1. Dress or Skirt Suit

A conservative dress or skirt suit in dark or subdued colors is a classic choice. Opt for knee-length or longer hemlines and avoid overly flashy or revealing styles.

2. Dresses

If you prefer wearing dresses, choose a modest option in dark colors such as black, navy, gray, or dark brown. Avoid anything too casual or flamboyant and opt for sleeves or a modest neckline.

3. Blouse and Dress Pants

Pairing a blouse with dress pants can create a polished and respectful look. Stick to neutral or dark-colored tops and bottoms, avoiding anything too tight or casual.

4. Shoes

Closed-toe shoes are appropriate for a wake. Choose comfortable yet formal footwear such as flats, heels, or dressy boots. Avoid sandals or overly casual shoes.

5. Accessories

Keep accessories minimal and understated. Opt for simple jewelry such as stud earrings, pearls, or a delicate necklace. Avoid anything flashy or attention-grabbing.

6. Hair and Makeup

Keep hair and makeup understated and polished. Avoid overly dramatic makeup or hairstyles and opt for a natural look that complements your attire.

What to Wear to a Wake for Children

Choosing what to wear to a wake for children is about finding a balance between respect and comfort. Here’s a guide to help you decide:

1. Comfortable Outfits

Children should wear comfortable clothing that allows them to move freely and feel at ease during the wake. Opt for soft, breathable fabrics that won't cause irritation or discomfort, especially for younger children. 

2. Dark-Colored Clothing

While children may not need to adhere strictly to the tradition of wearing all black, choosing dark-colored clothing is appropriate and respectful for a wake. Dark colors such as navy blue, gray, or dark brown convey a sense of solemnity and respect for the occasion. 

3. Closed-Toe Shoes

Closed-toe shoes are recommended for children attending a wake for several reasons. Firstly, they offer protection and support for children's feet, especially if they need to stand or walk for an extended period. 

Additionally, closed-toe shoes contribute to a more formal appearance, aligning with the respectful tone of the event. 

4. Casual Formalwear

While the attire for a wake should be respectful, it doesn't necessarily need to be overly formal, especially for children. Opt for casual formalwear that strikes a balance between respect and comfort.

Read also: What to Wear to a Funeral to Show Respect and Dignity

Is Wake Attire the Same as Funeral Attire?

Attire for wakes and funerals shares common themes of respect and solemnity, but there are subtle differences between the two occasions. Wakes often have a more relaxed atmosphere, with attendees coming and going over a designated period. 

Funerals, on the other hand, typically have a more structured and formal atmosphere. Traditional funeral attire tends to be darker and more conservative, reflecting the solemnity of the occasion. 

Cultural Considerations

Different cultures and religions have varying traditions and customs regarding mourning attire. It's essential to respect and adhere to these practices when attending a wake.

  • Religious attire: If the wake is held in a religious institution, such as a church or synagogue, you may be expected to adhere to specific dress codes associated with that faith. For example, in some cultures, head coverings may be required for women.
  • Cultural customs: Be mindful of any cultural customs or traditions observed by the family of the deceased. These may include specific attire or symbolic accessories.

Final Thought

Attending a wake is a meaningful way to show support and compassion to those who are grieving. Knowing what to wear to a wake is about showing honor to the memory of the deceased and giving comfort to their loved ones during this difficult time. 

Wearing the appropriate clothes for a wake is a visible expression of sympathy and respect, reflecting your understanding of the solemnity of the occasion.

Read also: How to Style Loafers: 5 Ideas for Effortlessly Chic Looks

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