Closet filled with clothes for picking out funeral outfit


Written by Jacob Terranova


There’s so much that goes into planning a funeral that families can begin to feel overwhelmed in an already difficult time.


To help make things easier, we’ve created a quick guide when it comes to picking out the final outfit for a loved one.


Choosing the Final Outfit: Formal or Casual?

A good place to start is to consider a loved one’s personality and the type of memorial service it will be. For example, for traditional funeral services, you’ll most likely want formal attire, such as a favorite suit or dress. But for nontraditional services, it’s ok to stray from the norm.


Caleb Wilde, the author of Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life and funeral director at Wilde Funeral Home, recently gave an interview at Racked, in which he said, “When I first started, everybody was buried in suits and dresses… Now that we’re starting to see the boomers die, it’s individual expression that’s key.” He went on to say that the individual expression of boomers includes their burial outfit.


So, it’s ok to pick an outfit that’s a little more casual. This could mean choosing the deceased’s favorite holiday sweater, their favorite sports jersey or their lucky hat. It all depends on the personality of a loved one and the type of memorial service.


Often, the funeral director should be able to help you when choosing a final outfit. But personalizing the experience can help in the grieving process. Wilde went on to tell Ranker that, “Dressing a body is something that’s very intimate…It’s an act of love to dress your dead.”


Religious Considerations

If a loved one belonged to a particular faith or religion, then it’s important to consider any religious traditions that you should follow. It’s best to consult with religious leaders in your community to learn about specific customs of funeral dress. Also, make sure to check out our brief overview of different religious funeral customs.


Other Items

Once deciding on the type of outfit for a loved one, you also should consider any other mementos to gather and bring to the funeral home. These items can help personalize the funeral and honor the deceased. Some common items include:

  • Family heirlooms or special jewelry
  • Pictures
  • Favorite books
  • Letters to the deceased
  • Other sentimental items or gifts

In most cases, these items can be buried with the deceased, but can also be returned after a service. Ask your local funeral director for any specific questions.


Make sure to read our article on tips for what family and friends should wear to a funeral.