According to the Emily Post Institute, business-casual attire in dark or muted colors is most appropriate for a wake. Dark gray, navy blue or black suits are appropriate for men. Women may wear dark pants with a blouse or modest dresses in colors such as deep purple, burgundy or forest green in addition to black, navy blue or charcoal gray.

When dressing for a wake, respect for the deceased and her family is the most important. All attire should be clean and well maintained. Avoid informal everyday wear such as T-shirts, jeans and sweatpants. Clothing should be modest, not revealing or distracting. Low-cut dresses, shorts, flip-flops and tight, form-fitting clothing are not appropriate for a wake. Tasteful pieces of jewelry are acceptable, though costume jewelry and large, attention-getting pieces are not.

In the past, black was the only acceptable color to wear to a wake, but this standard no longer applies. Though dark or muted colors are acceptable, avoid wearing bright, neon or flashy colors, as well as loud prints. There are exceptions for clothing that has a sentimental meaning. For example, if the deceased bought someone a Hawaiian shirt on a trip to Hawaii, that person may find comfort in wearing that shirt to her wake. However, clothing that is flashy for the sake of being flashy has no place at a wake.