For a wake, it has been traditional for a long time to wear black. Wearing black to wake has been going on for hundreds of years, but that tradition is no longer the only way to dress for a wake.
Most people do wear black to a wake. Some people substitute dark blue for another deep color or black if they don’t have any black clothing available. As long as the clothing is dark and somber, it should be acceptable for most wakes. Avoid wearing anything that is brightly colored or cheerful. This can be seen as a sign of disrespect to the deceased person as well as to their family and friends. It’s important to keep in mind that people are in mourning and may not want to look at a bright red outfit or a cheerful yellow scarf.
It is okay to wear dark grays, deep purples or other very dark colors to a wake. Or, you can accessorize a black outfit with accessories that are in a different deep color. You don’t have to feel as if every single part of your outfit must be black.
The only acceptable shoes to wear to a wake are dress shoes. For women, make sure the shoes you wear are of the closed-toe variety. Also make sure that your shoes are in good condition. If you wear black shoes, you may need to polish them before going. It can be considered disrespectful to wear shoes in bad condition or shoes that are considered sexy. They should be dressy shoes that could be worn to work or a job interview. Never wear sandals, flip-flops, tennis shoes or strappy stilettos. Remember that the occasion is about the deceased and those who are mourning the deceased rather than showing off the latest fashions.
A wake is generally held indoors, so it there will be no need for the scarves, gloves and hats that are often worn to outdoor funerals. For a wake, people will be gathered indoors for social interaction. The only accessories you will probably need are items of jewelry.
Jewelry in this setting can show that you made the effort to look your best. If you do wear jewelry, make sure to keep it simple and not so showy that it attracts attention to yourself. It should only be used to make yourself look more presentable and dressy. Your earrings should be small and you should not wear more than one necklace or bracelet. For men, a watch and some cufflinks are enough jewelry for a wake. If you have a lot of piercings, take them out for the wake to show respect for the occasion.
Whatever you wear, make sure it is in good condition. Iron your outfit before you come and make sure that nothing is stained. Many people buy a brand-new outfit to wear to wakes because the clothing is in good condition and does not have faded color. A brand-new black outfit will be respectful and will be in excellent condition.