Style SOS: What does smart-casual actually mean?
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I’m going to a funeral however they have asked us to dress colourfully. What should I wear? – Matt, via email
There is an understandable feeling that a funeral should be a sombre affair – people in black, women weeping behind a veil – and, if not otherwise prompted, that’s the appropriate approach. But it’s not the only way. For some, a funeral is a way to celebrate a well-lived life, rather than mourn a death. Bright outfits, wearing the specific colours of a beloved football team or no dress-code at all are all ways to acknowledge last wishes.
If you’ve been asked to wear colour this is probably because it’s important to the family and therefore you should definitely respect their wishes. How much colour you want to wear is your choice – go as colourful as you feel is appropriate.
As for what you wear, again this depends on what you will be comfortable in and what would be respectful to the occasion. Ultimately, you want to be able to celebrate the life of the person who has died, and if that means wearing colour make it as bold as you need it to be.
“Funerals are still formal occasions and unless you know otherwise it’s best to err on the side of more formal rather than less,” says stylist Toby Standing. “A neutral blazer over a colourful knit or polo shirt is a good way of adhering to the wishes of the family, while still staying smart and considered.”
If you want to avoid black go for a navy or light grey blazer – they’ll work with the brighter options underneath. As for how colourful you go, the only limit is how daring you feel. From polo shirts in burgundy and burnt orange or yellow and bright blue, to knitwear in green, purple, mustard or pink, the limit is the rainbow.
If that feels a bit OTT, and you want to stick to a suit, Toby suggests going for “bright accessories, rather than a colourful suit.” Avoid black tailoring – it creates too stark a contrast with anything radiant – and go for royal blue or soft grey instead. “Then add really punchy accessories like a bright tie and pocket square.”
Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Illustration: Ryan Gillett
The perfect white t-shirt does exist, you just have to be ready to get it wrong before you get it right