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You would never want to hear about this, I know. Yet, people do pass away and there’s nothing we can do about it. In this blog post, you will learn how to dress perfectly for a friend’s funeral, but you will also learn the reason why you should do so, as well as how to act accordingly.
It is extremely important that you show up at a friend’s funeral. Not only: you should also be dressed appropriately for the occasion, and you should do the right thing. A visit to your friend’s family is de rigueur. Express your sympathy and support the ones who are left behind. Make yourself available, comfort them. If you have good reasons to believe that the departed will be in heaven, do not hesitate to let them know.
Something like: “Alessandro isn’t really dead, souls are eternal, he just went to sleep. We’ll all see him again soon. Time flies, no worries, this is not a ‘goodbye’, it is an ‘arrivederci’. God is in control.”
A good Bible verse to quote in such occasion would be Romans 14:7-9 or, if you wish to quote Jesus Himself, go for Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted…”
Now, Alessandro Petruccioli was a good man, father, and son. I know we always say the same things, but in this case, it’s true. The whole town of Viepri was at the funeral, plus some more people from all over Umbria and beyond. I, myself, came from Rome. There must have been at least three hundred people at the church that morning, maybe more. The long faces were sincere.
Alessandro was also a true friend of mine. Actually, we grew up together. That’s because my parents used to take me and my sister to Viepri (read this post) for the summer. It was like going to the Hamptons. In the year 1990, I lived together with Alessandro at his parent’s house (we were renting the ground floor). Our apartment in Rome was being renewed, so we decided to remain in Umbria that year. I was thirteen, he was eighteen. I looked up to him.
Alessandro was the older brother I never had. He protected me and taught me many things. He was a great soccer player, he trained me patiently for months. When I went back to Rome, later that year, I was a better boy in every single way.
Sorry for the digression, it was necessary. I argue that we should only attend funerals if we were actually close to the person who died. And if we do so, we should do it with the uttermost respect. Respect begins before we show up at church. It begins with choosing the proper outfit.
I’ve said this times and times again: this is the only occasion in which a man should wear black. Charcoal is fine, too. Pitch black would be perfect, however.
A plain black suit, even if not particularly expensive, would be totally fine. This may sound strange to you, but I don’t possess a pitch black suit. I strongly believe that a gentleman must be well-dressed. Even more importantly, he should be always appropriately dressed. But that doesn’t require him to own an infinite number of suits, shirts, and shoes.
In fact, I would advise you to avoid black suits. In terms of cost-per-wear, they are a disaster. True: you could acquire an inexpensive black suit, as I said, and hang it in your wardrobe for months and months. Yet, cheap suits won’t last very long, even in the wardrobe. Trust me.
You would be better off buying a 3 seasons charcoal suit like the Armani I’m wearing in these pictures. This way you can actually use it. A suit like this will serve you well when you’re invited to a “Black Tie Preferred” or “Black Tie Optional” event. Although, I suggest you get a tuxedo if you can afford it. At the same time, a quality, three buttons charcoal suit such as this one can also be worn during formal business meetings, preferably in the afternoon/evening.
The one thing I would like you to keep in mind is that you are not supposed to be wearing a black shirt under a black suit, anyway. That would be way too much. I’m wearing a white shirt made of cotton, with a classic Italian collar, that I bought at Mosca54. Obviously, you can’t skip the black tie, though.
In my humble opinion, in this case, the skinnier the necktie, the better. Black is such an awful thing… a big black tie is a punch in the eye. That is the reason why I opted for an off-white pocket square. Notice the TV fold. This is the only occasion in which I suggest you fold your pocket square this way.
You might want to opt for an inexpensive necktie in this case. It is unlikely that you are going to use a black necktie in any other context. The one I’m wearing is from the Tie Shop Rome.
As per the shoes, go for a solid pair of Oxfords. The ones I’m wearing here are by Melluso. It is important that you keep in mind one thing: you can save money on your suit, shirt, hat, sunglasses, even on your wristwatch, but you must never save money on your shoes.
A funeral is one of the occasions during which you will be thankful for the money you have invested in a good pair of shoes; you’ll likely have to walk a couple of miles from the church to the cemetery and then back.
For the wristwatch: pick the best dress watch you own, but first, possibly, opt for a dress watch with a black dial. A black leather strap would be ideal. If you don’t own one, go for a steel bracelet. Don’t wear a watch if you don’t own one with a black dial. I’m wearing my vintage Rolex Oyster Day-Date.
Finally, a good pair of black sunglasses will serve you well. You’ll likely cry if you were particularly attached to your friend. It is ok to cry, but remember you must try and be strong for the people who are actually grieving the loss of a family member. Here I’m wearing an inexpensive pair of Maui&Sons.
A black hat like the one I’m wearing will protect you from the sun and, at the same time, make you less visible. Discretion is mandatory in such a context, in my opinion.
In a similar occasion, in fact, you’ll likely meet many old friends, but it would be better to postpone cheerful greetings at a later time. It is inappropriate to laugh and have a good time during a funeral, it’s disrespectful and in bad taste. The hat would serve you well because you could just tip it to show your friends respect and at the same time let them know that you are not available for a jovial tête-à-tête, at least for the time being.
Nothing can prevent you from joining your old friends at the local bar for a drink. But even in such occasion, remember to steer the discourse toward the friend who’s missing. The topic must be his life, not yours. Agree with your friends to support the relatives of the dead one while they are grieving. The community must be supporting, the relatives of your friend must never be left alone unless they explicitly ask to be left alone.
So, this is how to dress perfectly for a friend’s funeral. And now you also know the reason why you should dress this way. Also, you have learned how to act accordingly. Let me tell you: I don’t hope you will never lose a dear friend because that would be simply out of touch with reality. But I do hope that God will be with you. Remember, God is responsible for the evil things that happen in the world but He is the only one who actually knows the reason why bad things happen as well as in which way they are going to be used to good. God uses evil so that good may come out of it. However, no evil can come out directly from God Himself. The Prince of the Power of the Air is actually the one who should be blamed. Satan, aka “the Son of the Morning”, “the Deceiver”, “the Serpent of Old”, cannot harm or kill anybody without first receiving permission from God Himself. Luther used to say that even the Devil is God’s Devil, after all. But Satan can influence the life of each and every one of us, in a way that will lead to a premature death, if we don’t claim the victory in Christ that we already have.
Feel free to ask me questions if you are uncertain about the subject. Also, if you can’t quite understand the last paragraph of this blog post, don’t worry: I’m here for you: spiritual things can only be discerned spiritually.