Undertakers are seeing more personal touches, although few will match the majesty of the queen of souls five-inch heels
Aretha Franklin was perhaps unlikely to go in sober style. Known in life for her floor-length minks and jewels, the singer this week wore a red lace dress and five-inch red Louboutins during a public viewing before her burial on Friday.
Linda Swanson, the boss of Swanson Funeral Home, told the Detroit Free Press that Franklins family had chosen the final outfit, adding that she was resplendent in repose, as a queen should be.
What would you wear to your own funeral? It is a morbid question that will need to be answered, whether or not by you (Swanson said Franklin had never wanted to talk about mortality, much less her funeral arrangements).
There are two choices, says Frank Coates, a funeral director at Kavanagh & Coates Funeral Services based near Rochdale. You can wear your own clothes or we dress you in whats called a gown.
Burial gowns are typically made of satin to match the coffin lining, with lace detailing and lapels. But Coates says the traditional garments are less common now, with families choosing to include more personality in funerals.
In our area we get a lot of Manchester United or City fans, adds Coates, who is 69 and was a police officer for 30 years before changing careers in 2003 (its all people skills). Football kits are more common now. We always make sure the frill we use in the coffin is Man United red or City blue.
Coates also gets some unusual requests. A couple of chaps were keen bikers and were dressed in full leathers, he says. I had an avid gardener and he had wanted all his gardening gear on, and the family wanted his spades and rakes to go in there, too, but there wasnt space.
Harry Pope, a funeral celebrant and former funeral director in Eastbourne, once buried a north London gangster. Hed been murdered in a particularly violent way and the embalmer had done a lot of work because it was an open casket. He was dressed very smartly with a couple of his knives.
How would Pope like to go? In the lounge suit I wear to take services, he says. Youve got to go with what youre comfortable in, havent you? And if thats a pair of 500 stilettos, why hold back?
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