20-40-60 Etiquette: On appropriate colors for wedding, funeral guests
QUESTION: I have a couple of fashion questions for you. Are there colors of dresses that we should not wear to a wedding? Is it OK to wear white?
Should we always wear black at a funeral?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: For a wedding or engagement shower, white is still held for the bride only to wear. Just don’t even try it; no one wants to be that person. For a funeral, yes, black is very appropriate, unless stated otherwise.
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I wouldn’t wear white to a wedding. That color is traditionally reserved for the bridal gown, and you would stand out if you did. The last thing you want to do is compete with the bridge for attention. As for funerals, you are not restricted to black these days, but keep in mind it’s a somber occasion (depending on the type of funeral) and dress accordingly. If you were part of the service in any way, it is probably best to stick to wearing a dark color.
HELEN’S ANSWER: The white dress is still reserved for the bride at her wedding. Guests should choose other colors of outfits that do not upstage her. A simple dress in any color but what the bridesmaids are wearing is appropriate. Black is OK.
Black or navy colors are usually worn by funeral-goers. Sometimes, family members will request a color to be worn in honor of the deceased person, but not everyone gets that memo, so black is just fine to wear.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Linda Miller, local fashion expert and author of Fashion Matters Blog: Generally, the bride is the one and only in white at her wedding. Most other colors are suitable for guests, though if you’re hesitant opt for soft shades, navy or even black, which today is considered totally acceptable. A little black dress can go almost anywhere. Keep the embellishments to a minimum and don’t outshine the bride. It’s her day.
As for funeral attire, black is still the color of choice for many, but subdued hues such as brown, charcoal and navy are more appropriate. Some families even request people wear a deceased member’s favorite color or bright clothing. Ideas about funerals are changing, but it’s still important to dress in a way that’s respectful and — just like at a wedding — that doesn't draw attention to yourself.
Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is 40-plus, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email email@example.com.