Proper Attire for a Wake

by Bonny Brown Jones

A wake is a gathering of family and friends after a loved one's death, often before or immediately after the funeral. Its manner of paying respects is sometimes solemn, sometimes a bit boisterous, but a wake's setting and the people involved help determine how traditional your attire should be. Wakes can be at the funeral home, resembling calling hours; they might also be at a family member's home or at a restaurant or bar.

At the Funeral Home

If it's at a funeral home, you'll likely want to dress as you would for calling hours -- in simple, traditional styles and muted, dark colors, although black is not a requirement. Timing might require that you wear the same clothing as you did to the funeral, and that's fine. Men might wear a dark suit or slacks and dark sweater; women can wear a conservative dress in black, navy or other dark colors, a pants suit, or skirt and blouse in muted patterns. Jewelry should be understated; wear closed-toe shoes.

At a Private Home

If family and friends are having a get-together to honor the deceased, you might go a little more casual in your attire. You can wear office casual looks, as long as they're in dark tones; you might even wear jeans and a sweater or suit jacket as long as you wear nice shoes with them. Bright colors usually aren't in keeping with the event, unless a family member has requested them -- for example, if it was the deceased's wish.

At a Restaurant or Bar

Gatherings at eateries or bars might be still more casual. Sometimes people will be coming from work, and so will wear office attire. It's also a chance to honor the departed loved one in a more personal manner -- for example, by wearing ball caps or T-shirts from a favorite team or wearing his favorite colors. Best bet: Ask whoever is organizing the wake what you should wear, and whether there are special requests.

About the Author

Bonny Brown Jones has been a writer, columnist, copy editor and senior copy editor for newspapers that have included the "Orlando Sentinel," "Miami Herald" and "Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch." Jones has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Ohio State University.

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