Dark details, regal accessories and an uninviting attitude — mourning attire is having a moment.
Is it in poor taste to discuss fashion and funerals in the same breath? I’d argue not. The outfits worn to an event of mourning can be a stylistic nod to the person who passed. But beyond that, the wealthy widow character has been an aspirational fashion figure in her own right for decades. It is spooky season, after all. As Mean Girls’ Cady Heron once (kind of) said, “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total [widow] and no other girls can say anything about it.” And this year, funeral fashion is more alive than ever.
Just look at the style stars du jour. It seems celebs are stepping up their sartorial prowess with dark and mysterious looks fit for a high-fashion funeral. Canadian actress Taylor Russel went viral in a gloomy Schiaparelli look, complete with a wide-brim slanted hat and a subtly embroidered jacket. Mia Goth, the unofficial queen of horror, has been sporting widow-appropriate attire with a particular penchant for lace, opera gloves and veils.
More recently, Michaela Coel paired sheer opera gloves with a dark hooded gown by Ferragamo to the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiere. Kendall Jenner pulled up to Doja Cat’s masquerade birthday party in a black lingerie set with a cascading lace veil. Alexa Demie looked stylishly solemn in an all-black netted gown by Balenciaga at the Academy Museum Gala.
Each of these looks, while different at first glance, share a certain macabre vibe: grieving widow who definitely didn’t poison her husband.
This glamorously glum trend should come as no surprise. For some reason, fashion has lately been fascinated with imagery of the mysterious mourner. Vogue recently declared the great return of the “husband-killing, rich-widow robe,” a cascading frock that a wealthy wife wears when her distant, unloving husband — shockingly — passes. If that’s the luxurious ensemble for his murder, consider this the dress code for his funeral proceedings. And inspiration is coming straight from the runway.
Dark opera gloves, mesh face coverings, and other woeful wares were everywhere at fashion month. As a tribute to the Queen’s passing, Richard Quinn’s collection was fit for an extravagant funeral with face netting, elaborate beading and dark floral embroidery. Versace opted for eerie looks with hooded dresses, thigh-high stockings, and punk-approved veils in black, pink, purple and highlighter yellow. The romantic goth black dress was also a favourite this season, from Blumarine’s frilly dark frocks and chunky church-appropriate accessories to Alessandra Rich’s asymmetrical lace LBDs.
So, what defines this elusive aesthetic? There’s no clear-cut uniform, and that’s the point. Alluring funeral fashion is, first and foremost, about emitting a particular energy. It’s about looking secretive, seductive and just a teeny bit untrustworthy. It involves wearing darker colours, yes. But the beauty lies in the details. Think opulent embroideries, regal accessories and completely impractical headpieces like vision-impairing veils or heavy hats.
And while the goal is to look like a rich temptress, recreating this as a last-minute Halloween costume is surprisingly cost-effective (and gender-neutral). Any dark mesh fabric can double as a veil. Throw on a black dress, or forego clothes all together in favour of lingerie, à la Kendall Jenner. To give your getup even more opulence, try layering textures like lace, mesh and leather. Pile on your chunky accessories, and you’re ready to grieve in style. After all, you deserve it.
Seductress archetypes have long been used to categorize “sexy” women as dangerous and manipulative. But funeral fashion reclaims these femme fatale visuals. Not to mention, it melds designers’ current taste for maximalism with the always-alluring simplicity of the colour black. In so doing, the attainable look is expressive of the not-so-chipper attitudes many have been feeling these past few years.
With its unapologetic opulence and doleful demeanour, the funeral fashion aesthetic strikes the perfect balance between gloom and glamour. And isn’t that what Halloween is all about?