When you’re invited to a wake, the first thing on your mind isn’t likely the outfit. Instead, you’ll make sure to pay your respects and offer your condolences to the bereaved family. Nevertheless, it’s still essential to wear appropriate funeral attire for the occasion. If you don’t know what to wear to a wake, we’ll give you outfit ideas and some tips regarding funeral etiquette.

1. Why It’s Important To Dress Appropriately For A Wake

A wake is a funeral service honouring the memory of the deceased loved one. It’s a formal event where friends, family members, or relatives gather to share stories and pay tribute to the deceased. 

You must dress appropriately when attending a wake. You don’t want to wear a flashy outfit, as you may draw attention to yourself instead of the event itself. You might also need to avoid wearing certain colours, to pay respect to the beliefs of certain faiths and religions.  You’ll want to keep your outfit casual and lowkey but not too formal.

2. What To Consider When Choosing An Attire For A Wake

choosing an attire

A wake is all about paying respects to the dead. It’s an unspoken rule that guests must wear black when attending a  solemn event such as this one. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. 

Some families may do away with the traditional mourning attires and instead wear dark or muted-colour clothing. There are also cases wherein the family members wish to honour the last requests of the departed. Before their passing, for instance, the person may have requested a themed wake or funeral service instead of a traditional one.

Whatever the case, keep in mind that the dress code may vary. For example, if attending a Chinese wake, you may be advised not to wear bright and colourful clothing. The colour red should be avoided, as the Chinese often associate it with auspicious or happy events.

If attending a Buddhist funeral, on the other hand, black clothing remains the tradition. Mourners are discouraged from wearing shiny jewellery and other expensive accessories. Wearing them signifies that you’re displaying your wealth to everyone, which is generally frowned upon in Buddhist funeral etiquette.

So what to wear to a wake, you ask? The general rule of thumb is to wear simple yet respectful clothing. Try not to wear showy clothes out of respect for the grieving family. Choose clothes in pastel or neutral tones. Below is a sample attire:

  • Comfortable dress shoes
  • Closed shoes
  • Dress pants
  • Plain blouse
  • Button-down shirts
  • Blazers
  • Long skirt

Your presence is ultimately the most important thing when attending a wake. If you’re pressed for time and unable to come up with an outfit, go with a muted color palette that signify respect. The deceased’s family will be more than grateful for your attendance rather than your clothes. However, if you genuinely want to correct your attire, you can follow the conventions below for men, women, and children.

3. Wake Attire For Men

The standard outfit for men would be a black suit and a plain tie. But of course, in Singapore’s weather, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who dresses like this to attend a wake. 

For more casual wakes, below are some alternative outfit ideas:

  • Dark coloured pants, button-down shirt with tie, dress shoes, dark socks, dark leather shoes.
  • Dark pants, light coloured shirt with long sleeves, dress shoes, dark socks.
  • Denim jeans, white/black button-down shirt or t-shirt
  • Dark coloured belt.
  • Dark coloured blazer (if needed)
  • Simple watch or accessories.

What Men Should Avoid Wearing At A Wake

Avoid clothing that will divert attention away from the dead. It’s best to dress up in conservative clothing. Steer clear of the following:

  • Colourful graphic t-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Singlets
  • Sandals
  • Flip flops
  • Rumpled or unironed clothing
  • Expensive/off-putting accessories

4. Wake Attire For Women

Women should also come in formal attire to match the sombre occasion. Women usually wear long dresses in formal settings. But, dresses aren’t their only option for comfort.

When thinking about what to wear to a wake, imagine you’re dressing for a job interview, but a bit more conservatively. Here are some ideas:

  • Simple dress in solid, muted colours, dark closed shoes
  • Blouse, dark pants, black leather shoes
  • Slacks/dress pants, dress-like top, plain sweater
  • Dark coloured skirt, formal top, dark leather shoes
  • Simple jewellery such as a bracelet, stud earrings, pearl necklace, etc

What Women Should Avoid Wearing At A Wake

Similar to the men’s, there’s also a long list of things women may want to avoid wearing:

  • Colourful/neon dresses 
  • Ripped jeans
  • Short shorts
  • Above-knee-length skirts or dresses
  • Flip flops
  • Tight bodycon dresses
  • Tops that are too revealing
  • Rumpled, unironed clothing

5. Wake Attire For Children

The dress code for children isn’t as strict when dressing for a wake. Not all parents will buy formal clothing for children for specific occasions. Also, children tend to outgrow their clothes quickly. Purchasing a particular wake attire may be impractical.

When bringing your kids to a wake, the attire matters much less than their demeanour. Any clothing is acceptable, so long as it’s plain, clean, and ironed out. Keep an eye out and make sure your children don’t disrupt the wake.

For example, school-aged children are active and tend to be rowdy. Ensure they behave when bringing them along to a wake. Encourage them to join in prayers or certain rituals when invited by the host family.

Conclusion About What To Wear To A Wake

A wake is a sombre occasion that demands immense respect from the family, guests, and visitors. If someone invites you to a wake, wearing appropriate attire shows respect for the event. 

Generally, we recommend you wear semi-formal attire in neutral colours. Avoid wearing anything with subliminal messaging. Instead, go for basic, plain, formal, and presentable.

Remember that you’re going to a wake to give your condolences to a family in mourning. Worry not so much about your attire but comforting them in a tumultuous time.

Need more information? Casket Fairprice in Singapore is a reliable funeral service provider in Singapore. We offer Buddhist, Christian, Taoist, Roman Catholic, and other funeral packages. Get in touch with us for more enquiries. We’ll be happy to help ease you and your family’s funeral burdens.


Frequently Asked Questions About What To Wear To A Wake


How Long Does A Wake Last?

Funeral wakes typically last between 3-5 days but can go up to 7 days in length. 

How Much Money Should I Bring To A Wake?

Giving an odd-numbered amount in cash is a good idea if you’re unsure how much to bring to a wake or Chinese funeral. The host family won’t explicitly ask for cash donations, but they’re given in kind by guests and visitors. There are no hard and fast rules on how much to give. Give within your means, the family will appreciate your kind thoughts. 

Can You Wear Leggings To A Wake?

Leggings are generally acceptable to wear at a wake. However, make sure you pair them with a more formal top.

Can I Visit The Wake In My Office Attire?

If you know that you will be visiting a wake after work, do try to dress in muted colours and pieces that are suitable for the occasion. You may refer to the article above for tips on how to dress.

However, if your company provides a standard uniform, you can choose to change out of the uniform if it is not appropriate for the situation. But of course, you can also visit the wake in your uniform if you are unable to find an alternative clothing – because what matters most is your presence and care for the bereaved family.