Funeral directors and their wardrobe



Have you noticed in the March Madness basketball games how every male coach is wearing a logo quarter-zip pullover, casual trousers, and athletic style shoes?  The days of college basketball coaches wearing a suit and tie seem to be over. . . . no longer will we get to see an irate coach throw his sports coat and tie off in disgust.


I noticed that change happening during the pandemic influenced seasons when games were played with no fans in the stands, only for the television audience.  It’s a trend that has continued even though there are now fans in the stands.  And, it now seems to have reached an accepted standard at this point in time.


It made me wonder, what has the pandemic induced years done to funeral director dress around the country?  The other day I saw this quote in The Hustle and it made me wonder even more if casual dress will be the norm for funeral directors in the near future:

“The way we live — and what we wear — has changed in the last three years. One moment we were getting dressed for the office every day, and the next we were calling jeans “hard pants.”


The article went on to say that over the past three years fashion is changing — “people are unwilling to feel uncomfortable in their clothes, with an estimated 81% of people prioritizing comfort over cost or style”.


This article from Tie Mart mentions “Funeral directors almost always wear a suit and tie, even on days without a wake or funeral. A meeting with a family could happen at any time, so there really isn’t much chance for a casual workday. As far as shoes, you’ll want to invest in a comfortable pair—you’ll be on your feet a lot.” 


More formal attire from days gone by?

That advice seemed to be great advice in my days as a male funeral director.  However, I’m wondering if it is still in vouge to expect that from male funeral directors of today?  I certainly think it is appropriate as a business’ dress code not only instills some sense of reverence but it can create an impressionable image that helps build a business brand.


In my day on any funeral day I always wore, and expected my male staff to wear, a coordinated suit with a white shirt and tie.  I’m of the opinion that it showed professionalism, reverence for our work, and a respect for the families we served.  I always “dressed down” for non-funeral days. . . but dressing down meant possibly a non-white shirt, a tie, and maybe khaki pants. . . .certainly not an open collared or untucked shirt and tie-less as some business people of today.


The article from The Hustle mentioned that clothing companies that are stressing “practicality and comfort” are increasing their sales.  For instance they mentioned Lululemon increasing sales 28% and, according to this article from Yahoo, the “Athleisure” market will be worth over $660 billion by 2030.


I’ve noticed the general casualness of dress in the business environment in the past few years.  Untucked shirts seem to be a trend in some areas outside of the funeral home.  Casual shoes seem to be the norm for men nowadays.


I’m not against any of the casualness.  However, I wonder is there a set of standards still maintained by funeral directors in our society?  I notice that pilots and bankers still seem to be wearing ties. . . . will that standard continue for male funeral directors or are we moving into an “anything goes” and is accepted realm?


RelatedHaute-Comfort:  Consumers choose comfort over style says new research Forbes


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  1. Joshua Harres on March 28, 2023 at 3:46 pm

    I am 18 years old and have been working in the funeral industry for 7 months now at one of the bigger Florida funeral homes. During a service, full black suit always. Arrangements – a little more casual, sometimes we go without ties but more often than not we still wear suit coats. Beyond that? Slacks and a button up (short sleeve accepted if you can throw on a suit coat) unless you’re doing dirty work. Personally, I find that fine dress code. It’s a funeral, we are called to be refined. Below that, and it better have a logo on it elsewise I do not find it appropriate. Being 18, I attempt to dress at least the level (if not more) of our directors. We are in an industry that is based highly on first impressions, appearances, and how we act. The first two are judged in less than 5 seconds. The last better be spot on if the first two fall short in any way. We are here for families, not for comfort.

  2. Sarah on March 27, 2023 at 9:24 pm

    As a funeral assistant we are required to wear suits even for calls in the middle of the night.

  3. Beacham McDougald on March 27, 2023 at 7:04 pm

    In my younger years I almost died after suffering from a heat stroke whilst playing tennis in the July sun. Twelve days of hospitalization followed.

    During my 45 years in funeral service I had no problem wearing dark suits, white shirts, and ties in mild to cold weather, but as the temperatures rose the suits began to lighten, and I made the choice to purchase uniform seersucker suite for funerals in the hot, humid summers in the southeastern USA. No one ever objected – or at least openly.

    Even with light clothing, the need for formal, white woven straw hats arose when we were outside, and they were well accepted.

    Of course in the rural South there were even families who requested that we join everyone else and in dressing very casually such as knit shirts and slacks on down to favorite college team T-shirts.

    Physical limitations and family preferences mainly determine what is possible and acceptable.

    Personally, I loved Navy blue suits, white shirts or blouses, and ties – but only in mild to cold weather.

  4. Janis on March 27, 2023 at 7:01 pm

    I think your level of dress reflects your level of professionalism. I went to a funeral where a young man with the funeral home was wearing a green shirt with a red tie. He looked like a clown and I let the funeral home know how disrespectful it looked. My opinion only.

  5. Bryan Schrock on March 27, 2023 at 11:07 am

    At the John A Gupton College of Mortuary Science the dress code—every day—included appropriate dress shoes, a suit or sport coat and dress pants, and a tie was ALWAYS required for the males and the same type of professional business attire for the females. We were taught if we were going to fulfill the role of funeral professional in society we needed to prepare ourselves early for at least dressing the part. Not sure how if feel about a more casual aspect but I will admit that after 35 years in funeral service there are times at night that I go out on a call and am dressed more for comfort ! And I also agree that it’s a completely regional thing and what your community is willing to adjust to seeing as the norm.

  6. Benjie Hughes on March 27, 2023 at 8:14 am

    Being close to the Gulf of Mexico, families have dressed for comfort for several decades. We started business casual over 20 years ago. Why should I be in a suit and tie when the family is in shorts and flip flops? We wear suits on services but that’s the only time.

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