What to Wear to a Celebration of Life

When thinking about what to wear to a celebration of life, jeans and a T-shirt might not come to mind right away. But when there’s no pressure to dress up for an occasion that’s not supposed to be formal, keeping the outfit simple and comfortable is a good idea. 

A celebration of life might feel less formal and more joyful because it’s separate from a ceremony dedicated to mourning, such as a funeral. It’s also generally held in a casual setting where attire is often more relaxed. 

What to wear to a celebration of life will depend on the location, but also the person you’re honoring (what they were like and what you were like around them). 

This post covers less conventional, but polished outfit ideas for what to wear to a celebration of life ceremony. So if you’re feeling unsure about what to wear on this special day, keep reading and find out.

What is a Celebration of Life?

A celebration of life is a gathering of people who share a common loss— a loved one that has recently passed away. At this event, friends and family come together to grieve the loved one. But it’s not focused solely on grieving. It’s an occasion honoring the life of that person, and it usually focuses on the more positive sides of their life. 

Since there’s no right or wrong way to grieve, it leaves many wondering, what is a celebration of life ceremony like and how does it unfold? As the name suggests, a celebration of life is meant to celebrate the privilege of having known someone.

It differs from a funeral or memorial service since it’s considered to be celebratory rather than an event dedicated to mourning.

The mood tends to be lighter and friends and family are typically the ones deciding how they’d like to honor the person who has passed. This means every celebration of life is unique because it’s centered around the individual you’re honoring.

And there are several places where this event could occur. A celebration of life could take place at a:

  • Concert hall
  • Sports arena 
  • Restaurant
  • Movie theater

It could also take place outdoors if the weather permits. A backyard seems like a perfect location for a celebration of life event.

What to Wear to a Celebration of Life

What do you wear to a celebration of life? This question will cross everyone’s mind when preparing for the ceremony. 

A celebration of life dress code will largely depend on the location and the way the person influenced your life. Since no two people are the same, it’s a good idea to ask the host of the event ahead of time and find out what they have in mind. That way you can make sure you dress appropriately for the occasion. 

But it’s definitely worth considering that this is a celebration and not a funeral. So wearing black will not be a must, no matter the location. While most celebrations of life don’t ask attendees to wear black, it’s sometimes encouraged to wear another color (maybe it’s a color that was meaningful to the deceased). 

It’s always a good idea to approach the family or host of the experience ahead of time and ask them what to expect so you can make sure you’re prepared. And ask them what to bring to a celebration of life as well. This way you can both dress and act appropriately, and also show your respect for the deceased one and their family. 

Here are a few other questions to consider when deciding what to wear to a celebration of life:

  • Will there be any activities?
  • Should you bring a celebration of life gift? 
  • Where will the event take place? 

Maybe the event destination is the deceased person’s favorite vacation spot or a favorite activity, like camping. It’s very common to visit places and engage in activities the person would’ve enjoyed. The event could also become an annual occurrence, which would be a great way to continually celebrate their life.  

In that case, your celebration of life attire will also depend on the activity, the weather, and the time of year. In the next section, we’ll look at some outfit ideas to help you decide what to wear to a celebration of life ceremony. 

10 Outfit Ideas for Celebrations of Life

A celebration of life is usually quite informal, which means that formal attire is not required. In fact, people tend to be more lenient when it comes to the type of clothing, accessories, and other attire that the attendees wear. 

It’s important to note that certain invitations for a celebration of life will specify what dress code is required. Some like to choose a theme for the celebration that could include wearing something like:

  • Sports jerseys
  • Band T-shirts 
  • Movie costumes

If there’s no specific guidance on the dress code, however, below is a list of outfits to help you decide what to wear to a celebration of life. 

Coat and Jeans 

This outfit is appropriate for many different occasions. While not formal, it definitely looks polished and ‘put together.’ It might help you decide what to wear to a celebration of life because the person you’re honoring loved to go out and dance.

If you end up at a karaoke bar singing their favorite song or staying up all night, this outfit is a great mix of casual and elegant.

You could also style it with a pair of pumps or combat boots, depending on how much you plan to move (wearing heels isn’t necessary). And, if you end up going dancing, wearing shoes that feel comfortable would be more fitting. 

Evening Attire

Sometimes, a celebration of life could involve going to see a movie or a play or be based around any form of art that the person enjoyed earnestly. 

If you’re invited for a movie or opera night, then an evening look would work well. This outfit is light and sophisticated, but also a happy medium between formal and laid back. 

You can complete an evening look like this with a bag or jewelry. It might be trickier to find a purse that doesn’t turn this carefree outfit into something more somber, but color coordination plays a key role here too. 

Cozy Loungewear 

A small gathering in a home set up is a way to keep a celebration of life intimate. You could count on everyone to show up in their coziest clothes. 

Something snug and comfortable works well here. Earthy and neutral tones bring warmth and amiability and add a nice finish to the polished loungewear look like this. 

This outfit could be styled with sneakers or a pair of slippers with socks once you’re sitting inside. 


Celebrations of life often take place outside as well. You might even end up engaging in the person’s favorite activity, like hiking. 

This outfit is great for short and long hikes. You’d likely bring a backpack to store water and snacks and maybe even some change of clothes. 

You could also style it with a puffer vest or a windbreaker. You’ll probably bring a hat and, of course, comfortable and sturdy hiking boots. 

Utility Pants 

Another outdoor activity for a celebration of life would be a picnic. It could take place at the park or a backyard and, in this case, athleisure would work best here.

This outfit features a plain T-shirt, utility pants, and sneakers. It’s great for a warm summer day since it gives you room to move freely, but also get up and walk around. 

You can always add a hoodie or a jacket to complete the look and to stay warm, especially if the event carries on into the late afternoon or early evening. 

Plaid Jacket 

Another way to approach a celebration of life would be to go to a sports event—maybe the one you used to frequent with the deceased person, or simply the one that they loved to attend.

You can always opt for a jersey or wear an outfit like this (T-shirt, pants, and a plaid jacket). Color coordinating the outfit is key here. 

You might even decide to go to a bar afterward! This look is versatile enough, so you could show up for drinks after the game is done as well. 

Maxi Dress 

You might also be invited to the deceased’s favorite place in nature, like their favorite boardwalk or beach spot. 

This look is minimal and casual, but a bit dressier than other outfits. It could be styled in many different ways, and adding a hat or sandals will be the deciding factor in how you dress it up or down. 

This outfit is fitting for the summertime, although if you style it with a chunky, cable-knit cardigan or sweater, you can wear it in colder seasons as well. 

White T-shirt and Jeans

Going to a live concert is another way to attend a celebration of life. You could definitely pull an outfit together fairly quickly and opting for a white T-shirt and jeans combo can help you achieve this casual, but sophisticated look. You’ll want to feel comfortable, so wearing comfortable shoes is a must. 

Button-up Shirt 

You might decide to host or attend a fundraiser and what you wear to a celebration of life of this kind will definitely depend on how the evening is planned. 

Maybe it’s hosted at a small banquet hall or a community center. In that case, you can still show up in something casual like jeans and a button-up. To up this look, if you’d like, you always have the option to add a blazer or dressier shoes. 


Sometimes a celebration of life takes place outside of the city, and you might rent a cottage or a beach house. If that’s the plan, a jumpsuit might seem fitting. It’s a very laid-back and cozy choice.

This look could also be styled with a pair of Converse shoes and a cardigan. If it’s a summer look, then you can definitely add a tank top underneath for a summer celebration of life outfit.  

What Type of Celebration of Life Outfits Can You Get?

When deciding what to wear to a celebration of life you could throw on a T-shirt and jeans or wear a dressier fit for a night out. But the key is focusing on the reason you’re there, which is to celebrate the person that has influenced your life in some shape or form. 

So, it’s essential that you treat this night as casual rather than overly formal. You always have the option to rely on basics and wardrobe essentials to build an outfit. This will help you achieve the look you want without fearing you’ll go overboard. 

Functional, practical, but also intentional, a celebration of life outfit is an opportunity to wear whatever you would wear to show up for this person when they were alive. 

How to Choose The Best Celebration of Life Outfits

You might have an easier time finding what fits you best if you’re aware of your budget as well as other contributing factors – such as quality and materials – when choosing what to wear to a celebration of life. So we’ve listed a few important factors to keep in mind.

  1. Price

How much you decide to spend will largely depend on how elaborate the outfit has to be. If you’re looking for a well-put-together hiking outfit, you might have to invest a little more, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Thrifting will also be useful because you’d be able to find a one-of-a-kind fit at an accessible price. 

  1. Quality

Quality is also important when planning what to wear to a celebration of life, especially if you’re doing an activity. Searching for something of higher quality might require a bit of time, so factoring in this variable will help you plan ahead. 

  1. Material

The type of activity you’re engaging in will definitely inform the type of material you’ll choose. Something light and breathable could work well for a summer picnic, while going on a fall hike will require something tougher and hi-tech to keep you warm. If it’s a winter activity, for example, cotton and wool fabrics might work best. 

How to Style Celebration of Life Outfits

How you choose to style your celebration of life outfit will definitely depend on how you feel that day, and this will reflect how you style your look. 

You could always add a nifty jacket to complete whatever outfit you have planned. Wearing comfortable shoes is always a bonus, especially if you’re getting ready to move around a lot. 

You can also style your hair or add a hat. Tying your hair back or adding a beanie will depend on the type of activity you’re engaged in and the weather.

Is the event taking place indoors or outdoors? Is it going to be warm or super cold? Answering these questions beforehand is a good idea, and will help you style your outfit better.

Fashion Tips to Avoid With Celebration of Life Outfits

When deciding what to wear to a celebration of life, being overly formal might not be a good idea. That’s because it may add a lot of pressure on you to look presentable rather than feel good in your own skin. 

Unless the venue and the type of activity you’re engaging in invite you to be extremely formal, then aiming for a fine balance might work better. And choosing a more relaxed look will most likely be appropriate.

Make sure that your outfit is also appropriate for the weather that day. You can always take an umbrella or a beanie with you, but you might want to wear waterproof shoes as opposed to something that’ll make your feet either wet or cold. 

Keep in mind that a celebration of life can go for a long time, so choosing an outfit that you can spend a long time in might work better than wearing something that you quickly have to change out of. 

Best Places to Buy Celebration of Life Outfits

Urban Outfitters offers a wide selection of pants, shirts, and accessories you could choose from when shopping for a celebration of life attire. Urban Outfitters tends to be a bit more on the pricier side, but they run regular sales and you can come across some great finds at affordable rates.

It’s also perfect for buying essentials as well as mixing and matching to create a semi-formal look for a celebration of life ceremony, especially if you’re going to a dinner or a concert. 

For any outdoor clothing and gear, Kuhl is a great place to shop. They sell great womenswear as well as menswear! You can find quality technical clothing for colder days. They also offer free shipping for orders over $100. 

Mango features a wide selection of semi-formal and minimalist looks. You can shop here if you like to keep your outfit minimal, but also chic. Mango offers everything from jumpsuits to jean jackets made out of sustainable materials. 

Final Thoughts

There’s great versatility when it comes to what to wear to a celebration of life ceremony. That could be the challenge as well—what to wear to a celebration of life when you have so many options to choose from. 

A celebration of life also takes on many forms. So it can be difficult to focus on one outfit only, especially when you don’t know where you’re headed yet or how you’ll feel on the day of the celebration. 

Something to keep in mind is that your own style doesn’t have to be compromised in the process of choosing what to wear to a celebration of life. 

The main way a celebration of life differs from a funeral is that the overall tone does not have to be overly formal. Also, it does not have to be overly serious and the clothes don’t reflect that kind of tone either. 

While it’s true that a celebration of life is by no means easy to get through, it might help to know that, at the end of the day, you could show up as yourself and dress like you usually do—even if you typically wear suits every day. 

But if by any chance you decide to change out of your suit and into something snug and laid-back, you should go for it!

Check out some of our other articles for more fashion inspiration:

What To Wear On Valentine’s Day

What To Wear To Brunch

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