Funeral etiquette can be difficult to navigate if you have never attended a funeral before, or are less familiar with the type of funeral you are due to attend. With the warmer months ahead (and even with the sunnier days we’ve had in Dundee recently!) we wanted to share some additional tips and extend the advice we included in our general funeral attire guide to include some options for summer funerals and what to wear in hotter weather. 

We’ve previously shared a number of other funeral etiquette tips such as what to bring to a funeral, as well as how to write an obituary when someone passes away and how to write tributes and eulogies that may be read out during the funeral or service. These resources may be helpful in addition to this guide, though please note that, as always, all tips shared in these articles are for guidance only and if you have specific queries relating to the funeral or service you will be attending, it’s best to check the obituary for a dress code or ask the funeral directors organising the funeral for further advice to avoid causing offence. 

Funerals are a time to show our respect and support for the grieving family and traditionally this extends to clothing to avoid drawing attention to ourselves. Summer funerals pose unique challenges when it comes to dressing appropriately as balancing traditional, more conservative and covered-up funeral attire with the need to stay cool and comfortable in the heat can require additional planning. 

Below, we’ve included our tips for navigating these considerations for your own comfort and the comfort of everyone else and offering practical tips on what to wear to a summer funeral.


Colour Options For A Summer Funeral

While most people will opt to wear black at a funeral, other traditional options include navy, dark grey, and deep browns and purples. These colours can still be respectful to the occasion while giving additional options for the summer months. It’s also best to opt for muted colours and fabrics that are more matte to avoid reflections when the sun is out. It’s also best to avoid bright colours, flashy/loud patterns, and glittery or metallic fabrics as these can be seen as disrespectful or inappropriate for the sombre nature of the event.


Clothing Ideas For A Summer Funeral

Selecting appropriate attire for a summer funeral is an important part of showing respect for the occasion, and beyond wearing solemn colours, the fit and style of the clothing should reflect the formality of the event. Here are some options you may wish to consider:


Women And Girls

Plain-coloured, long lightweight trousers or knee-length skirts can be a practical choice, paired with a formal top such as a shirt or blouse. A simple knee-length dress can also be worn, with shawl or blazer to cover your shoulders if the dress has no sleeves. For cuts, we recommend a looser, breathable fit as this can look formal depending on styling even if not fully tailored while still allowing your skin to breathe. Overall, we recommend opting for more modest cuts and avoiding low necklines, short hemlines, or overly tight designs. For pregnant women, maternity dresses with an empire silhouette may be more comfortable as these are tighter around the ribcage but flowy from the waist down which can make it easier to sit for longer periods of time without feeling restricted by your clothing. 


Men And Boys

Similarly to women and girls, men and boys can opt for plainly-coloured clothing with common choices being a light-weight suit or trousers with a collared shirt and tie (usually optional for younger boys). Shirts can be long or short-sleeved, but we recommend avoiding rolled-up sleeves as this can give a more casual look. For younger boys, a darker polo shirt or button-down shirt can be appropriate, though polo shirts or similar tops may be seen as too casual for teens and older men. If a blazer is worn, we recommend a smart lightweight blazer or jacket.


What To Do If You Do Not Have Suitable Clothing For A Summer Funeral

If your wardrobe is limited, your clothing size has changed, you have young children who grow out of clothing quickly, or any other reason, there are still many options to help you adhere to the traditional dress codes of a funeral:

  • Black isn’t the only appropriate colour – if you own dark-toned, smart-looking clothing in grey, brown, or navy this can be a suitable alternative. 
  • Renting a suit or dress can also provide a quick option when you feel your current options are limited and may be cheaper than purchasing brand new. 
  • Purchasing items from a second-hand store or charity shop can provide a less-expensive option whilst simultaneously supporting a good cause.
  • Borrowing items from friends or family can help you expand your options.


Best Fabrics For A Summer Funeral 

Even if the sun is out for short periods of time, being outside in the warm air with little wind, or indoors in a venue with poor ventilation can increase the temperature of your surroundings, especially in a more crowded setting. Opting for lightweight, breathable fabrics can help keep you more comfortable in hotter weather, and if the temperature is likely to change between indoor and outdoor climates, it’s best to consider layers such as a shawl or jacket that can be removed if you get too warm. 


Consider some of the following:



Cotton is a natural fibre known for its breathability and versatility – it allows air to circulate, keeping you cool and comfortable. 



Seersucker is a cotton fabric with a lightly puckered texture, allowing it to sit away from the skin for improved airflow. 



Linen is another excellent choice for hot weather as it’s highly breathable and allows heat to escape and air to flow. You can also opt for cotton-linen blends to avoid excessive wrinkling. 



While an unusual choice, bamboo fabrics are becoming increasingly popular as they are seen as more sustainable and they’re also soft and breathable, with moisture-wicking abilities.


Rayon (Viscose)

Rayon is an umbrella term for a variety of semi-synthetic fibres, with viscose and modal being some of the most common. Rayon-type fabrics have a smooth texture which can make it a more formal choice and they doesn’t cling to the skin which provides room for air to circulate.


Merino wool

While wool might not seem like an obvious choice for summer, merino wool helps regulate body temperature, keeping you cool in the heat. It’s also soft and hypoallergenic, making it less likely to irritate sensitive skin, especially for extended wear.


Bonus: Chambray

Chambray is a lightweight cotton fabric that looks similar to very fine denim but is much more breathable. In a dark colour, it’s an excellent backup choice if other options are unavailable, however, it can look more casual due to the fit which may not be the most suitable. 


It’s important to also note that some of these fabrics may crinkle very easily, so ensuring these are ironed before you arrive is essential in remaining well-presented and respectful to the occasion. 


Fabrics to Avoid In Hot Weather

While we’re on the topic of fabrics, we should note some options to avoid, especially as many pieces of clothing may contain blends of breathable and non-breathable fabrics which can create discomfort. 



While a popular choice for casual clothing due to its resistance to wrinkles, polyester is a synthetic fabric that traps heat and moisture, making it uncomfortable to wear in warm temperatures.



Nylon is another synthetic fabric that shares similar qualities with polyester – it, too, is not very breathable and tends to trap heat and sweat, making it impractical for long wear in the sun.



While lightweight, acrylic can retain heat as it’s a non-breathable synthetic fibre, making it unsuitable for warm weather.



It’s common for many types of clothing to include elastane blends, however, a common misconception is that the elasticity also makes the fabrics breathable – unfortunately, these fabrics trap heat and can make you feel warmer instead of regulating your temperature. 


Vinyl and PVC

Summer showers are not uncommon in Scotland, so there can be a temptation to opt for waterproof jackets, however, these fabrics do not breathe and can create a sauna-like effect due to the trapping of heat and moisture against the skin, which can make them uncomfortable when layered.


Footwear Etiquette For Summer Funerals 

Comfort is imprortant when it comes to footwear, especially as many funeral services include walking and standing for long periods of time. In summer, especially, the added heat of the sunny weather can make us more tired and can also make our feet swell up – making footwear an important consideration when deciding what to wear to a funeral. 

Traditionally, more closed styles of shoes are preferred – meaning no sandal-like designs, peep-toe, open heels, or shoes that can easily slip off (particularly children’s footwear). Footwear should provide support, and if heels are worn, we recommend a low, chunky heel to make it easier to walk on uneven ground as well as to reduce the noise created by the heels. In some cases, thin heels can also cause damage floors in older buildings or even outdoor landscaping, so some venues may have rules against this, which is important to note ahead of time.

Classic choices for women include pumps and court shoes which cover the sides of the feet while still providing some breathability on top. For men, dress shoes such as Oxford or brogue-style shoes are a traditional choice. For children, depending on their age, shoes with a strap may be a good option to reduce the chance of the shoe coming off, e.g. Mary-Jane style shoes for girls, or shoes with laces or straps for boys (we recommend avoiding velcro where possible to minimise noise). 

It’s best to consider leather or faux-leather shoes for a more formal look and avoid trainers, canvas/fabric shoes, or sporty/casual styles where possible (and where not restricted by accessibility needs). 


Speak to our team at your nearest James Ashton & Son branch in Dundee and St Andrews:

1, 1a Cardean Street, Dundee, Angus, DD4 6PS

188 High Street, Lochee, Dundee, Angus, DD2 3DN

132 – 136 Hilltown, Dundee, Angus, DD3 7BJ

56 Largo Road, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8RP (Macgregors)

Planning a funeral can be a daunting task, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. Your dedicated James Ashton & Son Funeral Director will be there to help you along every step of the way! They will work with you to create a funeral and lasting tribute that is personal and meaningful, and they will be there to offer support to you and your family during this difficult time.