I never met the gentlemen, but I know his children and grandchildren, finer people I may never meet. I can imagine no better testament nor more telling a sign of the decent person he was than the quality of his family: Extraordinary. I truly believe that I do not need to see every corner of your home to know what kind of man you are, and I am certain that when the measure of this one is taken, he will not be found lacking in any way.
For him, for the kind of man I understood him to be, for the kind of friend his son and his girlfriend, my dear friend Jennifer, are, I rose early this morning. I prepared good black clothing, a long coat, and carefully did my hair and makeup. I made sure the doctor's appointment of this morning would not cause me to be late to the service or even cut close. I was in my seat ten minutes before the appointed hour because these people, the lives they led and have lead, and their loss, is important to me. I want always to be respectful and careful. I was pleased to see any number of people who felt the same.
Then there were the others: Jeans, old sneakers, things that looked for all the world like pajamas, all made multiple appearances in the packed house. There is no excuse for appearing this way at a funeral: Change in the car if you have to but make your last visit to the man's side one for which you made a demonstrative effort to respect the life he lived. The quality of his days was not a sweat-pant affair and indeed no life is one truly. Besides being a person worthy of your trip over to the church today, they are also creations of a mighty and perfect force (whichever one you subscribe to) which also deserves respect when its finest work goes on home.
Please. Wear black or very dark colors to funerals, still. I know girls down south who wisely have a funeral suit or dress and shoes for every season. Ever ready, those organized types.
And by the same token, even at night, black is still inappropriate at weddings (Be advised: Many cultures see this as a reverent mourning color and Grandmother does not care at all that you come from a big city where they do that all the time.), doesn't matter that it is white tie, in the dead of a winter night somewhere in Saskatchewan, it is not appropriate. Period. The Save-the-Date card seems to show up earlier with each passing wedding, does it not? Why, you have a year's notice, in some cases, to find a dress of the correct length which is not black or have one made.
Just get it done. There are no excuses: Begin scouring thrift shops now for some great $10 vintage items if you want to save a bit. Here is one I found this past week at the ladies club where my Mother gives her time, good for an evening wedding: A dark gold on gold, probably from the 50's, and memorably fabulous with a short sleeve pleated hem cape-like jacket over a matching sheath dress.
Both pieces were $50. Killer beautiful.
For a funeral, don't be too much of a fashion plate, this is not about you. If you never dress understated: Learn. Fast. You don't need to look like a frump but you do need to exercise restraint. By the same token, if you ordinarily present yourself as "casual" (which could, dangerously, be all in your mind when you actually remind those who you know of Mrs. Van Astor's pet goat. Best to ask your Mother for the cold truth.), you will need to make an effort: Get rid of that bed head, get your hair blown out by a professional and maybe get over to the mall and let the cosmetic people make up your face. No excuses.
For a funeral, the below will do in any season. Wear a shaped jacket or sweater over either for colder weather under a long coat:
Gentlemen and masters of any age going to weddings and funerals alike: Kindly put on a suit which fits, with a tie over a pressed shirt, no matter what your buddy is doing. Be sure your hair and nails are tidy, and polish your dress shoes.
Sweat pant-wearers: Bow your heads and ask our dearly passed on and newly married for forgiveness.