Navigating the etiquette of what to wear to a funeral or a wake can be challenging. Simple fashion etiquette can create much confusion, as you don’t want to disrespect the family and friends. When you’re considering what to wear to a wake, you want to be as respectful to the family of the deceased as possible.

To help you, our specialists have compiled a few guidelines to keep in mind when deciding what to wear to a wake.


First, a wake is not a funeral, and it is often hosted outside the funeral home. In essence, a wake is focused on visiting the family after the loss of their loved one. Wakes are less formal than funerals, and some follow certain rituals.

Some families choose to host a funeral and a wake, the wake taking place a day before the funeral arrangements. This is so those who don’t or can’t attend the funeral can still get a chance to share their condolences with the family.


When thinking about what to wear to a wake, women have to remember that this is a somber occasion, and it is best to choose conservative colors and styles. You don’t have to wear black, but it is acceptable if you decide to wear all black. Other colors include navy blue, gray, blush colors, and neutrals such as beige.

You also want to keep accessories simple, avoid wearing big earrings, chunky necklaces, and layered bracelets. When looking for shoes, avoid high heels and choose sensible, closed-toe dress shoes; these can be flats or mid-heels.


Even though a wake is a more casual gathering than a funeral service, you still want to pay your respects to the family. Women should avoid wearing:

  • Bright colors and loud prints
  • Mini-skirts, blouses, or dresses with low necklines, and spandex
  • Noisy or sparkling jewelry or accessories


For men, choosing adequate wake attire is more straightforward. Men are expected to show their respects accordingly and dress in semi-formal attire. For example, some men opt to wear a tailored suit, others choose to wear dress pants, and others prefer to wear a tailored shirt with slacks or jeans. Colors for men should also be somber; think black, gray, and blue. Regarding prints, men can wear striped or checkered shirts and still look formal.

Shoes and accessories are also important for men’s attire. For example, some men may choose to wear a tie, while others might dismiss it; both are valid. Shoes should be polished and taken care of. Depending on the event, men can wear sunshades or bring an umbrella if the wake is outdoors.


Even though men have more freedom as to what to wear to a wake, there are still some items that are restricted from these events. Men should avoid wearing:

  • Graphic t-shirts
  • Sports caps or anything with writing on it
  • Vibrant printed ties or accessories


As an adult, it can seem challenging to decide what to wear to a wake. But what about children, particularly the very little ones? While you want your children to look appropriate for the occasion and to show their respects, it can be difficult to find a new outfit for them and expensive to buy clothes dedicated to such an event.

The good news is that when it comes to children, particularly toddlers, and infants, you can likely dress them in clothing they already own. Babies, in particular, do not require any specific dress. It is generally considered okay and normal to bring them to a wake in their everyday clothing. Similarly, toddlers and small children may wear their “special occasion” clothes. If you would let them wear the outfit to a house of worship or a formal dinner, it is likely acceptable when considering what to wear to a wake.


Still, there are a few rules that you should follow and a couple of items of clothing that you should avoid for children when they are attending a wake. Generally speaking, the following articles of clothing should be kept at home:

  • Pajamas
  • Bare feet
  • Clothes that are overly informal (sports jerseys, graphic prints, etc.)


When asking what to wear to a wake that takes place in the summer, we often receive questions from loved ones who are well-meaning. Of course, you want to be present and to pay your respects, but in the summer heat, you also want to be comfortable. For ladies, this may be easier, as sleeveless dresses are considered appropriate.

Alternately, men may find summer wakes to be slightly challenging, as the rules that dictate semi-formal attire are slightly more strict. Regardless of the weather, men are still expected to present in a suit–though many choose to remove their jackets upon arrival or to forgo their ties.


There are certain articles of clothing that both women and men should avoid when considering what to wear to a wake in the summer. Try to avoid the following choices:

  • For men: avoid short sleeve or sleeveless shirts
  • For women: avoid spaghetti strap tops, tube tops, and halter tops
  • Do not wear swimwear, beach coverups, etc.
  • Avoid casual flip-flops and sandals
  • Avoid loud or bright summer prints


Knowing what to wear to a wake that takes place in the winter is just as important as knowing what to wear to a wake that takes place in the summer. The Gardens of Boca Raton is located in South Florida, providing the benefit of sunny weather and a temperate climate year-round. If you are attending a funeral service at The Gardens in the winter, you can likely wear the same clothing as you would in the summer.

However, many people have to travel out of state to pay their final respects to loved ones, and you may have to visit a region that is snowy, cold, and windy. If this is the case, both men and women can follow the guidelines for traditional wake attire and wear clothing that is semi-formal. Men should still stick to wearing suits and jackets, whereas women can wear a pants suit, slacks, and a nice blouse, or a dress with thick stockings underneath for extra warmth.

Be prepared to carry your jacket with you, as there may not be a place for you to hang your coat. Your clothing should be warm enough to brave the outdoors for the walk from the car to the building, yet not too hot that you cannot comfortably move around inside.


Just as with all other seasons and scenarios, there is specific clothing you should avoid when deciding what to wear to a wake in the winter. Both men and women should steer clear of the following types of clothing:

  • Avoid snow pants and overalls
  • Avoid “loud” accessories such as hats with pompoms, neon colors, and more
  • Avoid informal boots


As with any family event, there will be some exceptions. Wakes are a very personal family gathering. Usually, they can be personalized to pay tribute to the deceased. For example, wakes can take place at a restaurant, a bar, by the beach, and so on. Some families choose to have a themed wake and thus ask friends and family members to attain a specific dress code. For example:

  • Wear your uniform
  • Dress casual
  • Wear your sports cap

These are some ideas to consider when looking at what to wear to a wake. Sometimes the family will expect their friends to wear their uniforms to pay tribute to their loved ones. When the wake is outdoors or by the beach, they will probably not expect you to wear a suit, and so on.

If you ever have a question or are unsure about what to wear to a loved one’s wake, then talk to the family and ask them if there’s a dress code. If they don’t specify any exceptions or a detailed dress code, always remember to wear something conservative and respectful.


The Gardens of Boca Raton has staff and funeral counselors available to speak with you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Should you require assistance, have any questions regarding wakes or funeral services, or need to make immediate need arrangements for a loved one, contact us today.

Here at The Gardens of Boca Raton, our compassionate and caring staff is here to assist you through the funeral planning process. Our main goal is to ease the burden on your family during this challenging time to make the process as easy as possible.

All funeral and memorial services at The Gardens are able to be held indoors, shielded from the unpredictable elements of the weather in a temperate controlled environment. Should you have any questions regarding either the pre-planning process or making funeral arrangements unexpectedly, our counselors are here for you.

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