I Wore the Wrong Thing to a Funeral

By Alison Rosen

September 16, 2014 4 min read

As someone who often wears black, I felt pretty set in the apparel department when I made plans to attend an upcoming funeral. At the very least, I figured, I wouldn't have to worry about what to wear.

This isn't a feeling I'm accustomed to.

I'm usually the person who refuses to go to a tiki-themed party because I have neither tiki clothing nor a tiki body, or who worries an all-black ensemble including boots will be wrong for a summertime lunch in a botanical garden, or who freaks out before a barbecue because I know people will constantly ask me if I'm hot in my sweater and jeans. Yes, I am, by the way.

Also, I'm the person who's constantly being told I should mix it up and add some color to my wardrobe and, "Why black all the time?" and "Are you Goth?" I'm not Goth. I just feel confident in black.

The one arena where you really can't wear black all the time is on screen. I do have my collection of on-camera clothing, including an orange shirt which I wore once on television and then threw out because it made me look like a peach with a head. For real life, I stick to dark colors with the occasional grey, blue or purple for pizzazz.

But back to the funeral. As I leafed through my black garments, I wanted to make sure I was dressed appropriately which meant not too casual. Something slightly dressy seemed right. I didn't want to spend too much time worrying about how I looked though. Vanity in the face of death also seemed inappropriate.

I spied my white summer jacket, a new and completely out-of-character purchase I'd recently made. What if I wore that, I imagined. Then not only would I be wearing white after Labor Day, but I'd be wearing white to a funeral. I imagined wearing the most inappropriate brightly colored outfit, essentially thumbing my nose in the face of death. I wondered what everyone would think if I did that. Imagine being that person, I thought.

I drove to the funeral, which was a little over an hour away, and only spent 59 minutes of the drive worrying that I'd be, according to my GPS, 4 minutes late. Who's that jerk arriving late to a funeral? Is it the same person who wears the absolute wrong thing, not mistakenly, but because they can't be bothered to care?

I was relieved to see people still milling toward the chapel as I pulled up. I walked in and saw the son of the deceased. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Then I noticed that most of the men were wearing Hawaiian shirts. Many of the women were in sundresses. It was Jimmy Buffett concertwear as far as the eye could see: Hawaiian prints, flowing linens, canvas footwear, tropical flowers. A picture of the deceased, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, sat near the front of the chapel. A lei was hung around the picture.

A coconut bra and grass skirt would have blended in better than the Grim Reaper getup I had on. I was pretty much the only one at this funeral-inside-a-Tommy Bahama whose outfit screamed, "Hi, I'm mourning."

I found my mother three pews from the front and slid in next to her. "Was there some kind of dress code for this funeral?" I asked.

"Yes, he loved Hawaii so everyone was supposed to wear Hawaiian shirts. I'm so sorry I forgot to tell you."

It was a lovely service, with moments of deep sadness and levity, too, and I don't know that anyone really minded how I was dressed since they probably figure I'm Goth.

Hear more from Alison Rosen on her podcast, "Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend" or on the immensely popular "Adam Carolla Show" podcast. Follow her on Twitter @alisonrosen or visit her website at www.alisonrosen.com

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