Burial gowns are special outfits worn by the deceased for their final services, which may include a viewing or open casket funeral. These clothing pieces are designed to be simple for funeral directors to dress people who have died in, and they come in a wide variety of fabrics and colors. Some are also made with particular cultural considerations in mind.
Whether the deceased left instructions in their will or told a family member what clothes they wanted to be buried in, the final outfit choice can make a meaningful statement about who the person was when they were alive. For example, if the deceased was a baseball fan, you might want to consider dressing them in their favorite team’s jersey for their burial. The same applies to hobbies. You might want to dress your loved one in a shirt and jeans if they were always wearing them, or you might choose an outfit that shows off their love of flowers or cooking.
The color of the garments that are chosen to be used at funerary services can be important as well. In many cultures, bright colors are seen as appropriate attire for funerals and other funerary events. This is especially true in Africa, the Caribbean, and West Indies where celebration of life ceremonies are more common than traditional mourning services.
For this reason, burial outfits are often sewn in colorful fabric designs that match the loved one’s personality and lifestyle. In addition, companies such as Rita Barber and Vera Lee Garments offer a range of different color options for their burial clothing.
Another consideration in choosing the right style of outfit for a loved one is the weather conditions where the funerary service will be held. Cold weather can necessitate the use of heavier fabrics such as wool and velvet, while warmer weather will call for breathable materials like cotton and linen. Some funeral homes have clothing closets with a selection of burial clothes available for families to use at their services, while others will allow family members to bring their own preferred items.
Many people prefer to wear clothes that were a part of their everyday lives when they are buried. These clothes can be anything from a smart night gown or pyjamas to a more formal daytime dress. There are also some companies that specialize in making bespoke burial apparel for children, ranging from small sizes for babies to big boy and girl suits.
Some companies that create burial clothing also design them with environmental concerns in mind. For example, Mark Mitchell, a designer of green burial garments, uses natural fibers and luxury fabrics to create one-of-a-kind looks for his models. This approach, which follows McDonough and Braungart’s (2002) five steps to eco-effectiveness, is intended to be both respectful of the deceased and the environment. In addition, Australian scholar, artist, and funeral celebrant Pia Interlandi has combined her work in apparel design, fiber science, and forensics to create a line of burial clothes called “Garments for the Grave” that are designed with easy dressing and the human body in mind.