Let me explain to you once again the importance of having a Funeral Outfit ready at any given moment. It’s important. WAY important, and there’s no excuse not to have one at the ready. That way you can save yourself the trouble about worrying what on earth to wear and get to the important things: Judging the people who left the crusts on the finger sandwiches.
Funerals are hard, you’re grieving and if you’re not grieving you’re concerned about someone who is. You don’t really have the time or the brain space to devote to putting together an appropriate outfit on the spur of the moment. Unfortunately there’s no occasion where the appropriate outfit is more important and gaffs are more obvious so the stakes are pretty darn high.
For this reason, you need a Garment Bag of Death.
The Garment Bag of Death should hang in your closet at all times and contain the following:
One conservatively cut, minimally embellished black dress with a hemline no higher than the bottom of your knees and which covers your shoulders and upper arms. When I say black I mean black. I don’t mean a pattern with black in it, or a dress with a black skirt and cream bodice. Solid black. I don’t care if you don’t like black or if you never wear it except to funerals. Funerals are Not About You, so show your respect for the deceased and the solemnity of the event by sucking it up, putting on your big girl panties, and conforming, just this once, to the social norms. A fitted, well-tailored suit is also appropriate.
One pair of appropriate and polished dress shoes that don’t hurt your feet. I’ve said before Armani makes excellent funeral shoes because they have nice solid heels that are elegantly shaped but not too high. Flats are perfectly acceptable provided they are not scuffed or too casual. If you choose to wear heels, don’t go for stilettos, you’ll thank me if it’s a graveside service.
A fabric clutch, prepacked with two handkerchiefs (one for you and one for someone who needs it), a pen, a pad, and a mirrored compact. I hate big clunky day bags at funerals. They’re sloppy and incongruous, and you always have to dig around for Kleenex or a pen or who knows what. Having a small, fully-loaded clutch or fabric bag hanging and ready means you don’t have to think about anything. Just drop in your keys, phone, ID and cash (if necessary). You’re appropriate and ready to go.
Accessories. A strand of pearls is always ideal. Buy an inexpensive vintage costume strand at a local antique shop and hang it around the hanger. A brooch is also nice and appropriate, provided it is understated and could not in any way be described as a novelty item (e.g., a rhinestone dachshund).
Appropriate Undergarments. I learned this the hard way a few years ago when I had the dress, the slip and was absolutely perfect except there was not a clean pair of my preferred species of underpants to be found at stately Château Gâteau for love nor money. Whatever you require to make your funeral outfit look seamless, have it ready and in the bag.
Ideally you should switch your Garment Bag of Death contents to reflect the season. There’s one GBoD outfit for spring/summer and GBoD for fall/winter. As soon as you wear it, wash everything and pop it back in the bag.