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19/06/2012 11:13 BST | Updated 19/08/2012 06:12 BST

What to Wear: To a Funeral

Fieldy's top five:

· Be simple. Be respectful. Be smart.

· Some funerals will request not to wear black, but for the majority it's all about being conventional and understated.

· Wear a dark suit. It needn't be black but is should be dark. Navy or charcoal grey will look very smart. Remember to keep things simple, and don't go for a heavy city/gangster pinstripe.

· Wear a solid white shirt. You can't beat a crisp white shirt for any occasion and this is no exception. If you feel the need to choose an alternative then go for a plain pale blue.

· Wear a plain black tie or one with a minimal texture.

WHY DO WE WEAR BLACK?

Black really took hold during the period when Queen Victoria's was on the thrown. After Prince Albert died in 1861 she never wore anything else, and the fashion persisted until the late 20th century. In many ways a respectful colour, it began in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when death rituals would demonstrate worth and social status. The poor could not afford to spend a lot of money on funerals, but the middle and upper classes could. They would spend money on clothing, coaches, coffins and all the accessories that an increasing number of commercial funeral directors were only too keen to sell them.

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Queen Victoria with the five surviving children of her daughter, Princess Alice, dressed in mourning clothing in early 1879.

These days, wearing black is all about showing your respect. The key is that you don't want to stand out at a funeral. It's not the place.

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