Dear Miss Manners: I have reached a stage in life where a growing number of people I knew have died recently.

I know you wear black to a funeral. But I find these days that many bereaved families prefer to hold small, formal, private funerals, followed sometime later by a "celebration of life" that is somewhat more festive. I went to one recently at a beach club loved by the deceased. Another coming up is in a backyard with a taco truck.

What to wear? I wore a black dress with a colorful floral print to the beach club event, and my sister — who wore all black — scolded me, saying it was "too loud." Maybe it was, but now I'm confused.

Gentle reader: Well, it is a confusing event. You are being asked to mourn cheerfully and highly informally.

Indeed, it would be strange to show up behind that taco truck wearing a black hat. (You mean you don't wear hats to traditional funerals held in houses of worship? Miss Manners does.)

Your costume seems a fitting compromise between mourning and celebrating; the etiquette error here is to critique other people's choices, correct or otherwise.

"Miss Manners" is Judith Martin of the Washington Post. Send questions to