22 January 2013

Appropriately Funereal

Bad luck really, but I have to attend two wakes this week. Now I don't fool myself into thinking that anyone wants to attend these things, but they are a necessary evil. Now because I work during the day unless it was a close friend or relative I rarely attend funeral, opting to pay my respects at calling hours in the evening instead. I thought this was common practice everywhere, but my boss, who is from just outside Chicago said in the Midwest not as many people have wakes. Personally I've never known someone who only had a funeral without a wake. Than again New England, especially Rhode Island is predominantly Catholic and wakes are a very big Catholic thing, maybe in the much more Protestant Midwest and South its less common.

Regardless, I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes to such occasions, whether it be a funeral or wake. Today, I've noticed more and more when attending these things (and I've been to my share) that anything goes in terms of dress. People come as they are, whether its direc I've tly from work in say scrubs or in jeans because they're comfortable and that's what people change into when they get home. Again call me old-fashioned but I can't do that, I always try to wear something that is appropriately somber, not necessarily black, but certainly not a red dress, and most importantly is suitably dressy because I think it shows a certain amount of respect. There are always exceptions, been to funerals where you're asked to wear certain colors because they were the deceased favorites, or pink in honor of breast cancer, when our superintendent of schools died two years ago we wore red and white to his funeral in honor of the North Attleboro team colors. Certainly there are exceptions, and I think the families wishes should be respected. When my father died I wore black but it also poured that day and the only raincoat I had was pastel plaid, anything but funereal. One of the last funerals I attended last spring, one of the woman'd nieces who had flown in from Wisconsin and wore jeans and a tee shirt, of the variety I would wear to clean out the garage. Later her mother apologized for her saying that in Wisconsin people just got to funerals as they are, no one bothers dressing up.

Maybe I'm way off base and behind the times but I stick to what I know, and I try my hardest to be respectful, even if the deceased doesn't know any better. Even when circumstances prohibit wearing dar colors I make an attempt. I had to go to the wake of the father of one of  my coworkers and it was a long line, almost three hours to wait, and I anticipated this. I knew I had to be somewhere else right after and there would be no time to change. So I wore my own clothing with my navy blue raincoat on top, which kept it appropriate. Today and tomorrow while midterm exams are going on, my boss and I are wearing grubby clothes to clean out the dusty little used storage rooms. Never would I dream of going straight from work, so I just planned my outfit out this morning and it was there waiting for me to change into. These situations are never ideal, but like anything else wardrobe plays a factor in how we live this life.

That being said Whitley's outfit today over at the Queen City Style is very appropriately funereal, and extra fabulous to boot. I can't lie, if I had her body and her budget I would definitely go in style like that.


  1. In the 1940s people used to wear arm bands when they were mourning a death. (But then again men and women also wore stylish hats). In the 1980s Michael Jackson (love him to death) took that arm band and incorporated it into his own style. Who knows, maybe he was mourning his lost childhood. But I think that's an example of style breaking down, of course I don't think the arm band was initially meant for style.

    When I was young people dressed up for church. I had to wear tights! Nowadays I think churches are so happy to see folks they let them come as they are.

    A friend of mine died in high school and the boy I was dating showed up wearing a Metallica t-shirt. I wouldn't go in with him because it was so appalling!

    My stepfather calls black jeans his Sunday best! I personally think it's always best to be tasteful when paying respects. Even my stepfather has a pair of dress slacks for occasions like these. You still have to dress up for a job interview, but often times not for the job. These are confusing times in terms of fashion.

  2. I quite agree, even if you look at mourning as big business, which it was especially in Victorian times, there were highly defined degrees of grief. As a widow it would be at least a year and a half before you could wear any color but black, go to social functions, or even wear jewelry made from anything but the hair of the deceased (delightful I know). I will say that there are certain ethnic groups who still take the business of mourning very seriously, I worked with a really traditional Portuguese woman named Rosemary and she wore nothing but black for a year after her mother-in-law died, I think the real trick is finding a healthy balance between respect and practicality. Thanks for stopping by!