Can you wear jeans to a funeral showing?

Quick Answer

The quick answer is that you should avoid wearing jeans to a funeral showing out of respect for the deceased and their family. Dark-colored dress pants or a skirt paired with a modest blouse or sweater are better options. While etiquette rules have relaxed, jeans are still considered too casual for somber occasions like funerals.

What is a Funeral Showing?

A funeral showing, also known as a visitation or wake, is an informal gathering held shortly before the funeral service where loved ones can pay their respects to the deceased. The body is present at the showing, either in an open or closed casket. Guests have the opportunity to offer their condolences to the grieving family and share memories of the deceased person. Food and drinks are sometimes served.

Why Avoid Jeans at a Showing?

Jeans are very casual pants that were originally designed as workwear. Even when paired with dressier tops, they have a relaxed, informal look. Funeral showings and services are meant to be respectful events honoring someone who has passed away. Your attire should match the solemn tone. More formal attire like suits, dresses, slacks, and skirts are preferable to casual jeans.

Some additional reasons to avoid jeans include:

Show Respect to the Family

Wearing formal attire demonstrates that you want to honor the deceased and the grieving family. It shows that you are taking the event seriously. Jeans could be construed as disrespectful.

Honor the Deceased

Your clothing choices should reflect that this is an occasion to remember someone’s life. Jeans do not fit the formal nature of memorial events.

Follow Etiquette Rules

Traditional etiquette guidelines advise against wearing casual denim to solemn occasions like funerals, weddings, churches, etc. It is best to follow proper etiquette out of respect.

Avoid Standing Out

Most other guests will wear formal attire. You do not want to be the one person in jeans at such an event. Blend in with dark, modest, conservative clothing.

Look Presentable

Looking neatly dressed and polished shows you made an effort to look presentable at this important event. Jeans can appear sloppy.

What to Wear Instead of Jeans

Here are some of the best options for what to wear to a funeral showing when jeans are inappropriate:

Dark Dress Pants

For men, a pair of black, dark gray, or navy dress pants paired with a button-down shirt is a respectful option. Make sure the pants are pressed. Add a tie and sports jacket for a more formal look.

A Dress or Skirt

For women, an appropriately-cut black or dark-colored dress or skirt reaching past the knee is a safe choice. Pair it with a blouse or sweater and dress shoes.

Slacks and a Blazer

A tailored pair of slacks with a blazer or sweater set works nicely. Choose subdued colors and minimal patterns.

A Suit

Both men and women can’t go wrong wearing a formal suit, provided it is dark and conservative. Stick to darker shades like black, charcoal, navy, or gray.

Long Dress

A knee-length or longer modest dress is appropriate for women. Darker colors and minimal trim are best. Add a cardigan or blazer on top.

Conservative Sweater

Pair dress pants or a skirt with a turtleneck, crewneck, or V-neck sweater. Solid colors or subtle patterns are a safe choice.

When Can You Wear Jeans to a Funeral?

While jeans are not recommended for the actual funeral showing or service, they may be acceptable in some cases:

Casual Gathering Before/After the Service

If family and friends are meeting casually at a restaurant before or after the official memorial events, dark jeans may be appropriate.

Graveside Burial Service

Jeans are sometimes worn to an outdoor graveside burial service, especially if it is informal. Use your discretion based on the situation.

Celebration of Life

At more casual memorial gatherings focused on celebrating someone’s life rather than mourning, denim may be more fitting. Use judgment based on the location and guests.

As Requested by Family

Check if the deceased’s family has requested certain attire. Jeans may be acceptable if they want a casual, relaxed atmosphere.

Tips for Wearing Jeans Appropriately

If you choose to wear jeans to certain funeral events, keep these tips in mind:

Opt for Darker Washes

Dark denim reads as dressier and is a better pairing with dressier tops. Light-colored and distressed jeans are too casual.

Avoid Rips, Holes & Embellishments

Jeans with distressed details, ripped knees, appliques, embroidery, etc. are not appropriate for memorials. Choose a clean, non-embellished pair.

Wear Darker Jeans Only

Stick to classic blue, black, or gray jeans in dark washes. Stay away from brightly colored or light denim with contrast stitching or whiskering.

Press & Clean Your Jeans

Make sure your jeans are neatly pressed with sharp creases. Clean them so they look polished and lint-free.

Pair with Dressier Tops

Balance more casual jeans with sleek blouses, sweaters, blazers, etc. on top. Avoid casual tops like t-shirts.

Wear Dark-Colored Jeans

As mentioned earlier in this article, dark-colored denim reads as more formal. Black, charcoal, navy, and indigo jeans are good choices.

No Ripped, Baggy or Low-Rise Jeans

Ripped jeans, excessively loose/baggy jeans, and low-rise jeans should be avoided, as they are too casual for a funeral.

Ask the Family if Unsure

If you are really uncertain about wearing jeans to any memorial service events, it is best to ask the deceased’s family members what attire they deem appropriate and respect their wishes. Most will appreciate you checking with them.

You can call and say something like: “I want to dress appropriately for [name’s] services. Would denim jeans be acceptable or do you prefer more formal attire?” This allows them to share their preferences.

The Final Verdict on Jeans

While jeans are not considered proper funeral attire, there may be certain informal memorial gatherings where they are acceptable if paired with dressier tops. Use your best judgment based on the occasion’s formality and the family’s wishes. When in doubt, it is safest to opt for more formal pants, dresses, and skirts. Jeans should be avoided at the actual funeral showing and service, where conservative darker outfits are respectful choices. Focus on being there to comfort the grieving family.

Event Jeans Appropriate?
Funeral Service/Showing No
Graveside Burial Sometimes
Memorial Gathering Before/After Yes, dark jeans
Celebration of Life Yes


In summary, exercise good judgment when considering wearing jeans to a funeral-related event. Traditional funeral services and viewings call for more formal attire out of respect for the deceased and their family. While jeans may be acceptable at more casual gatherings, dark-colored jeans paired with nicer tops are safest if you opt to wear denim. When possible, check with the deceased’s family members for their dress code preferences. Focus on paying your respects in comfortable attire.

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