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Celebration of Life: A Guide to Appropriate Attire

A celebration of life is sometimes held in place of or in addition to a funeral. The event focuses on honoring and joyfully remembering the life of the deceased instead of mourning their death. It is a happy event filled with smiles and laughter as stories are recounted and memories are shared among family and friends. 

A celebration of life is a beautiful way of remembering and honoring a loved one that has passed away. And because the nature of the event is significantly less subdued than a funeral, the attire when attending can be more casual. 

Of course, your choice of clothing must still be respectful to the deceased and the family of the deceased. To help you maintain this delicate balance, this comprehensive guide outlines what is best to wear at a celebration of life service. 

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Factors To Consider When Choosing an Outfit for a Celebration of Life

A celebration of life is a relatively casual event and does not have any specific dress code. There is great potential for a faux pas if you are not careful about the pieces you choose. 

Here are some things to consider to help keep you in line:

Type of Event 

This is the most important and defining factor of what you will wear. Some families opt for a more formal event, while others keep it more casual. Aim to honor the family’s requests, and pay attention to the kind of service being held.

Read the invitation closely—if the nature of the event is not declared explicitly, the wording may indicate the level of formality expected from guests. If there is a stated dress code, all you have to do is follow it. You can always check with the funeral director to see if there are any special requests from the family members.


The venue will also dictate the type of activities that will take place and what is best to wear. 

If it will be held at a family member’s home, you can keep your outfit low-key and casual. A dress or nice blouse and skirt  and flats should do the trick. If you are going to the beach or the park, dress for the weather conditions and the activities you will be expected to participate in.


A celebration of life has no standard color for attire, like black is expected for funeral services. The family may choose a theme (perhaps the deceased’s favorite) or leave it to the guests. This is the one service where brighter colors are more acceptable.


Activities are a common part of such celebratory events. They will likely be related to the interests and hobbies of the deceased and are a way of remembering them joyfully. You may go for a hike, swim, play games or sports, cook, paint, and so many more—make sure to dress appropriately so you can participate with no trouble.


Events scheduled during the day are more casual than those in the evening. Also, the time of the year will greatly influence your choice of clothing. 

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What Should Women Wear to a Celebration of Life?

Dressing up for a celebration of life (COL) differs greatly from doing so for a funeral. For a COL, you need to consider the location and activities. Simply follow the dress code if one is stated in the invitation. 

If there is no specification, casual clothing and understated is the best way to go, close to what you would wear on a regular workday. Business casual clothing will likely be acceptable. The black suit isn’t required, but conservative clothing is still a good rule of thumb. Err on the side of caution if the service is in a church or at the funeral home. 

What You Can Wear

  • Modest day dress
  • Nice jeans or pants 
  • Blouse
  • Flowy tops
  • Collared shirt
  • Skirt
  • Dress shoes- Heels, boots, or flats
  • Simple accessories

What You Can’t Wear

  • Plunging neckline
  • Ripped jeans
  • Flip flops 
  • Loud prints 
  • T-shirts with ostentatious graphics 
  • Shorts 
  • Sweatpants
  • Costumes
  • Neon colors
  • Mini skirts
  • Tank tops
  • Athletic shoes- unless the memorial event is an activity requiring them

Celebration of Life Outfit Ideas for Women 

1. Mid-length sleeveless dress with heels or boots

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Dress- Old Navy; Boots- DSW

Wear a mid-length half-sleeved or sleeveless dress for a summer event. It is perfect for the park, a restaurant, or someone’s home. Wear simple jewelry like hoop earrings and thin gold or silver chains, and complete the look with a practical shoulder bag. Opt for tall boots instead of heels if the season is early fall or early spring. 

2. Button-down shirt, pants, and formal shoes or flats

If the event is more casual, you can wear trousers or dress pants with a shirt and complete the outfit with more formal shoes. You can carry a handbag and wear delicate rings. 

3. Skirt suit with heels 

Skirt suits are versatile and can be worn for formal and casual events. choosing to wear a skirt suit for a celebration of life is a thoughtful gesture that reflects your respect for the occasion and the person being honored, while also ensuring that you present yourself in a dignified and appropriate manner. Skirt suits offer versatility in terms of style and color. You can choose a suit that reflects the overall tone of the event, whether it’s a traditional black suit for a more somber occasion or a softer, muted color or in vibrant colors for a more casual or uplifting celebration.

 Opt for a flowy skirt if the theme is more relaxed and a pencil skirt if it is more formal. This outfit is perfect for indoor memorial events. 

4. Pantsuit with heels

Pantsuits, too, can be very versatile. Wear soft and muted colors like pink, beige, or other colors according to the vibe of the event. Pant suits offer a high level of comfort and freedom of movement, which can be particularly beneficial for longer events or if you anticipate participating in any activities during the celebration of life. This comfort can help you focus on honoring the memory of your loved one without being distracted by any discomfort from your attire.

Depending on the season or location of the celebration of life, wearing pants may be more practical and comfortable than a skirt, especially if the weather is cool or if the event involves outdoor activities. Pant suits provide warmth and coverage while still maintaining a polished and respectful appearance.

5. Blouse and skirt with flats

If the event is outdoors in the summer, you can wear a flowy skirt and blouse with flats. During the summer months, comfort is key, especially for outdoor events. A lightweight blouse and skirt made from breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen will help you stay cool and comfortable throughout the day, even in warm temperatures.

Skirts provide freedom of movement, allowing you to walk and navigate outdoor spaces with ease. Paired with flats, which are comfortable and practical for walking on grass or uneven terrain, this outfit ensures you can move around comfortably while paying your respects and participating in any outdoor activities or ceremonies.  If you will be playing sports or swimming, you can bring extra clothing for your comfort. 

6. Jeans and top with flats

Dark-wash jeans can work for such an event if worn with flats and a more formal top or blouse. Dark wash jeans can convey a sense of casual elegance, making them appropriate for gatherings where formal attire may not be required. Paired with a blouse, this ensemble strikes a balance between comfort and respect for the occasion.

While dark wash jeans may be more casual than traditional attire for memorial services, they can still contribute to a respectful and dignified appearance, especially when paired with a blouse that is modest and appropriate for the occasion.

7. Sundress and sneakers 

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A sundress with sneakers will keep you cool and comfortable if the celebration of life ceremony is an outdoor event in the daytime. Bring a wrap or cardigan for warmth if you expect the event to extend into the evening. Stick to plain white sneakers or a solid color and only wear sneakers if it is an active outdoor event.

8. Blouse and khakis with heels

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Khakis are another alternative to jeans that are appropriate for a COL event. Pair it with a blouse and heels, and you will have a perfect outfit. 

What Should Men Wear to a Celebration of Life?

Men’s attire for COL is very relaxed and casual. The most common options are:

  • Suit
  • Dress shirt 
  • Pants
  • Slacks
  • Formal shoes
  • Sports shoes 
  • Polo shirt 

What men cannot wear to such an event:

  • Graphic t-shirts
  • Flip flops and sandals 
  • Flashy colors


A celebration of life event is a great way to remember a person with joy and love. It is a more festive event compared to solemn funerals and memorial services. Thus, the celebration of  life attire is largely casual, and attendees can wear lighter shades instead of a staid black clothing.

We hope this guide can help you plan your outfit for the celebration of life you will attend. Center your outfit choices on expressing respect for the person and their family, and you will not go wrong.

what to wear to a celebration of life servicePin