Dress for Respect (Or What to Wear When the Guest of Honor Isn’t Breathing)

Woman in Mourning at Cemetery in Fall

Just like in the movie Steel Magnolias* – my hairstylist and I can go on and on solving the world’s problems in her cozy salon.  At my last trim and highlight she mentioned that she had the unfortunate opportunity to attend a couple wakes in the past few weeks.  Which lead to her asking me the question, “Does anyone wear black to these things anymore?”

I knew exactly where she was coming from. I chalked it up to the lackadaisical approach to church these days. Last time I attended any church service (I’m going to leave the date out, because it I have no idea what it is), I saw way more denim and casual foolishness than I had ever seen before in the House of the Lord (Amen, Hallelujah and PTL). My stylist said she felt exactly this way as she quickly realized at the last wake, she had taken the time and effort to create an ensemble worthy of the “occasion” and most everyone else had not.

I say that there are two schools of thought when it comes to dressing for death.

OLD SCHOOL: Black and hats and ties and suit coats and bringing food and sending flowers and all that “funerals are for the living” (thanks, Mom) mentality. Respect the dead. Iron your clothes and put together a respectable black ensemble that says, “ I took the time to pay your loved one my last respects in style.” Bring a dish for the family of the deceased and stay and sit with the family and friends for a while. This is the ultimate showing of respect and reflection of mourning, right?

NEW SCHOOL: Dark-rinsed denim and the now-considered-formality of wearing any shirt with a collar and/or dressy flip-flops. Throw in a scrunchie-less hairstyle and a last minute call to a neighbor-kid to watch your bratty 4 year old while you swing by to pay your last respects in person and not just with a Facebook message. Just getting there in this busy day and age is the ultimate showing of respect, right?

Like the existence of an Afterlife, the answer is out there somewhere in suburban-style purgatory.

You know, morticians and funeral coordinators take the time to wear their very best for every person coming through their doors and this includes the freakin’ dead. Don’t they always look nice? I’ve yet to see a corpse rocking a velour sweatsuit or ugly vacation t-shirt. So with that said, I know where I stand.

If someone you know croaks, I promise to wear my best, most respectful funeral home attire and I’m pretty sure my hairstylist would too. But really what I’m dying to know is, what will you be wearing?

*Guess what I just realized? I referenced that movie because of the hair salon comradery, but now I realize it was ALSO about death. . .  and like, the SADDEST movie of all time. But ya know what? Those ladies “brought it” with the funeral attire.

So what do you think? Is it enough just to get there or do you have to get all decked-out Steel Magnolias Style?


One Response to “Dress for Respect (Or What to Wear When the Guest of Honor Isn’t Breathing)”

  1. LovesGray March 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

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    I have an entire section of dress clothes in my closet for funerals… And I can tell you which I wore where, so there are no repeats.

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