Creedy Commentary


Should Women Wear Pant Suits?

style-9091-slim-fit-notch-lapel-one-button-angled-flap-pocket-mid-hip-length-womens-pant-suit-for-work-with-plain-front-wide-leg-pantsI seem to have a penchant for joining fights that aren’t mine. Not long ago I was presenting a seminar on dress and decorum to funeral directors at a large state convention. Several women asked for my opinion on wearing pants. Frankly, I hadn’t thought about it so I didn’t have one.

Since then, I have been doing an informal survey. It seems that many funeral homes require a dress or skirt be worn by females at all times.

I have learned that a dress or skirt can often be awkward at the most inopportune moments. While I can not report based on experience, I am told that certain physical activities necessary to the profession (i.e. removing bodies, lowering caskets at the cemetery and so on) cause a skirt or dress to “ride up” resulting in exposure or forcing the hapless female to simultaneously adjust her clothing while attempting to help their colleague.

Since I have been asked for my opinion I offer it here. If I owned a funeral home I would allow my female staff to wear Professional style pant suits. I would also encourage them to wear skirts or dresses at visitations and receptions where the risk of embarrassment would be less.

And while I am at it my wife says I should also remind women that not all women look good sans pantyhose. (Again, I wouldn’t know this personally)

12 Responses

  1. Alan, you do cover the waterfront in funeral service. We have allowed, and encouraged women to wear pants for sometime now. It is as practical for a woman as it is for men. However, we do prohibit our male staff from wearing kilts while at the funeral home.
    Merry Christmas

  2. I would like to see a list of those awkward moments during a funeral or visitation. I am always open to change, especially this policy because all of my female staff have asked for it. I have have held “true to the course” for what I have seen what happens to a staff of many many other business’s when they agreed with the female staff and allowed “professional style dress suits” The only thing I have not seen is faded blue jeans with holes. I think it is awfully hard to unring a bell. I guess, to me, the price of insuring their is male staff available when the female staff might have to perform in an awkward moment is easier and less costly than allowing slacks of any description and then discovering the only person on staff that understands what “Professional dress” means is me.

  3. Glenda

    Well since men seem to have an opinion on what women should wear in the workplace– Do you have male employees who show up with jeans with holes in them? Then most likely us poor little ladies can figure out what is appropriate. You try standing at graveside looking professional with your skirt blowing around your waist. In this day and time when more people are dressing more casually and women are expected to perform exactly the same roles as men, then why not let them act like adults and make their own clothing choices???

    1. Alan Creedy

      Glenda, thank you for your input it is much appreciated. I wrote this because I couldn’t defend a good reason not to allow PROFESSIONAL pant suits.

      I do feel I need to stand up for Miles’ comment. Over the course of my career I have never had to address the issue of appropriate attire with men. but I have had to send two women home. One for wearing an outfit that you might wear to work in your yard on a hot day and the other for being too provocative. Interestingly, the provocative one wasn’t sent home for her effect on men but the anger, enmity and cat fighting she caused among the women. She was understandably upset and embarrassed but a few months later told me that working for me was the “safest” place she had ever worked.

      I am only saying that My experience, and apparently Miles’, suggests that women MIGHT have a looser definition of appropriate than men. So, it is incumbent on the owner to make the definition of appropriate crystal clear

      OOHHHH am I going to regret writing this.

  4. Janice J. Richardson

    Totally agree with your opinion – dress pants for transfers such as coroner’s calls or difficult removals and funeral suit (with skirt) for arrangements, visitation and services. Went through a lot of skirt repairs climbing down embankments and rough terrain where there were only police or firemen present. The only other time I would have liked to wear pants was in -40 F on parking lot duty. đŸ™‚

  5. Morticia38

    As a woman who is allowed to wear pantsuits in the north, but wasn’t allowed to while working in the southern states, this is a sensitive issue to me. I haven’t faced any criticism for my clothing choices, however, many of my colleagues have. I don’t think the problem is strictly pants vs. skirts, however, as many of the problem outfits involve innappropriate skirts and dresses as well as ill fitting pants. I believe dress codes should be discussed in mortuary schools, perhaps even showing pictures of proper vs. impropper dress for the role of funeral director/apprentice. Also, bosses need to define their opinions and standards as soon as both male and females are hired and have it clearly stated in the employee handbook. I find that especially 20 year olds want to keep dressing trendy, while there isn’t always much bending room in the actual suits, as it’s better to go classy, and perhaps add a little flair with a purse or scarf where appropriate. Inapproriate dress can lead to extremely awkward situations if they aren’t addressed from day one of hire.

  6. After nearly 40 years in funeral service and functioning in all aspects, I still believe women should look and dress like women – we are women, not little men. Yes, making removals wearing pants might be the exception. By wearing a traditional pencil skirt you will always look professional. Today, the hardest part for a woman is finding a traditional suit that looks professional and classy, as opposed to trendy.

  7. The funeral directors, and more specifically the business owners who have commented thus far are willing to entrust their female staff to walk alongside grieving families from the first call until the casket is lowered or the cremation is complete, to plan for, arrange and handle details of all variety of funeral services, to be kind, compassionate, consummate professionals each and every day, to cover the funeral home when the owner is out of the golf course or vacationing in Hawaii, but those same female funeral directors allegedly don’t have the wherewithal or cognitive skills to decide how to dress themselves appropriately for work in a pant suit? Because pant suits are unprofessional? Nothing about this archaic profession should come as a surprise to me anymore, but there’s always something that does. Trust those “little ladies” to dress a deceased person, but you can’t possibly trust them enough to dress themselves. It’s almost 2016, please join the rest of us “modern gals” in this century.

  8. James

    Kristan….I agree with you 100%! As a semi-retired former funeral owner, I have had my wife work along side me and she either wore a dress, skirt, or pantsuit. She made good choices and what she was to wear was never discussed. On several occasions, at the request of the famiy, we wore black denims and western attire when we assisted several ranching families bury their loved ones. In the winter, there is nothing wrong with pants and heavy socks and boots to stay warm! I do not know,if is still true today, but before I bought my business 30 years ago, unless you were the owner, you were merely a grunt and MortuarĂ¿ schools, owners, etc. were wondering why the high turnover in this profession!

  9. Scott McKinney

    What we all wear to work is both important and very personal. When I think of funeral home staff I think of black, somber, a little white, soft color (if any), quiet, respectful. They are the ushers, the guides to an event that is painful, scary and, at times, horribly confusing. In that environment it is understandable to want to bring order to the chaos in whatever way is possible. So the person in charge sets the rules based on what they know and expect. Parents do this all of the time with children. If they’re not acting properly, you correct them. You’re in charge, so you’re the parent. It’s the oldest management style in existence. Unfortunately it is also a horrible way to manage free thinking, independent, adults. It is made worse when the adults are not treated the same based on something they have no control over (being male or female or whatever). Your employees are not children. If they can’t dress themselves properly, why did you hire them?

  10. My thoughts after 40 years of wearing a suit / skirt / nylons,
    Our staff are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.
    Excellent service is the hallmark of our business.
    I believe every person we serve was a king or queen in someones life.
    I would never think to attend a funeral of a king or queen in pants. Do you see women wearing pants when attending a presidents funerals?

    What’s the image you want of your business? Actions speak louder that words. The customer is watching,

    I’ve driven our hearse 9 months pregnant. I’ve shoveled snow in a dress/ nylons/ boots, scarf ,hat and gloves and looked great doing it!
    For the record. Skirts don’t heave up over your waist when you dress in a business, classy, professional manner. There are modern clothes out there to keep you current , professional and classy.

    Our ladies on staff wearing skirts and nylons sets us apart from our competition. We hear compliments on a regular basis relative to the professional look of our female staff . Most recently from a funeral home peer!

    Lastly, I attended a seminar on etiquette in the business place, The presenter said “the casual dress code has failed the business world miserably. Studies show as you dress so shall you perform.”
    Skirts seem to work for us.

Leave a Reply