Using black clothing to demonstrate mourning a person who has died. Not only at the funeral service
, but also any time she is visiting his grave
, a woman in mourning is shown wearing a black dress and/or a black hat with a veil. Usually this is the widow of the deceased, but it can be other close female relatives as well, such as his mother, sister, or daughter. Spear Counterpart
is a man wearing a black armband to show mourning, since men wear black suits in other contexts as well.
According to That Other Wiki
, black clothing and veils were colloquially called "widow's weeds" during the Victorian era, from the Old English word "waed," meaning "garment."
Not to be confused with Black Widow
, or with a widow cleaning her husband's grave of weeds. Or a widow carrying THOSE kind of weeds
. Compare Woman in Black
, but this is more specific and less vampy. Its sole purpose is to communicate nonverbally that someone has died.
In other cultures, the traditional color of mourning may be other than black.
- Josie and the Pussycats: In a "what if" Fantasy Sequence, Melody is persuading Alan M to let Josie help out more, instead of playing macho and doing it all himself. She describes a future in which Alan M and Josie are married, and Alan M works himself into an early grave trying to support her. "Before long, Josie is buying a dress she hadn't planned for." Josie is pictured in a black veil, shopping for the dress to wear to his funeral, while a sales clerk observes, "Basic black? We've been selling a lot of those lately."
- In the "Where Were You on the Night Batman was Killed?" arc in Batman, Catwoman wears widows weeds to the Joker Jury trial being held to determine who deserves credit for killing Batman. She dramatically whips the weeds off to reveal her costume when she takes the stand. Several villains object to her making a show of mourning the Caped Crusader.
- In Jaws, a grieving mother angrily confronts an official because he didn't close the beach, and now her son is dead. She is wearing a black hat with a veil.
- In The Great Train Robbery, Miriam wears this as a part of the robbers' scheme to persuade the conductor that her supposedly deceased husband's coffin may travel inside the train's secure vault.
- Subverted in Thunderball. While James Bond is watching the funeral of SPECTRE agent Colonel Jacques Bouvar, he sees that Bouvar's widow is wearing a black dress, hat and veil. Then he realizes that the widow isn't a woman at all...but a man, baby!
- Scarlett O'Hara buries two husbands and a child in Gone with the Wind and wears mourning on all three occasions.
- Sonia is wearing the standard black dress and veil at the beginning of The Merry Widow. This doesn't stop Captain Danilo from wooing her, but it does stop him from recognizing her when they meet again in Paris.
- In Flesh and the Devil, Felicitas is shown primping in front of a mirror. Then she puts on a veil, which is how the film lets the viewer know who won the duel between Leo and von Rhaden.
- In Disney's Frozen, the king and queen leave on a journey. They perish when their ship capsizes during a storm, and Anna wearing a black dress. Elsa is not, but she's so depressed she can't control her powers, so she can't even leave her room.
- In Stage Fright, Charlotte's insincerity and lack of remorse over the death of her husband is shown when she is primping and preening while putting on widow's weeds.
- Male variant in It's a Wonderful Life, with George and others at Bailey Building & Loan shown wearing black armbands after Peter's death.
- Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor and Marianne's mother, wears these in Sense and Sensibility. The progress from all-black back towards lighter colors marks the progress of months. Her daughters also wear black accents initially.
- At one point in The Assassination Bureau, Miss Winter and a female antagonist have a montage showing them dressing in competitively glamourous mourning - both are rather too fashionable by the end of it for the intended sentiment to apply, but it's a very ironic movie overall.
- In Once Upon a Time, Regina starts wearing black after the death of her husband and "kept it" as she went public with being "the Evil Queen," saying it suited her.
- In The Golden Girls when Dorothy's crossdressing brother dies several heavily veiled, black wearing, women appear at the funeral. They were the guys from his poker night.
- Blanche subverts this by wearing red, though this isn't in disrespect—she wears it specifically because she sincerely (and probably correctly) believes, "Phil would have liked this dress." And she modifies it with several touches of black anyway—hat, gloves, purse, etc.
- Parodied in a The Kids in the Hall musical segment, "Terriers." During the instrumental break, Bruce McCulloch comes across two veiled women in black bikinis, dancing beside a grave. He asks them politely to leave because "You're scantily clad and have nothing to do with the narrative; therefore, it's sexist... Wow. That hurt."
- The Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Night in Sickbay" had Archer having a Dream Sequence where he and T'Pol were all dressed up in traditional earth mourning clothes for Porthos's funeral.
- Averted in Still the Beaver, a Made-for-TV Movie showing June talking to Ward's grave, but not wearing a black dress or a veil.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- In "Innocence" after Angel turns evil, Buffy has a dream that she's at a funeral, during which Angel draws her attention to a woman wearing the mourning veil, which she lifts to reveal Jenny Calender, tipping off Buffy about her being The Mole.
- In "Villains", Buffy changes into a black shirt after finding Tara's body. Willow has already done a black makeover, albeit for entirely different reasons.
- In Deadwood, Determined Widow Alma Garrett is often seen in black, and when she eventually wears other colors they're still subdued, like dark green.
- Murdoch Mysteries is set in Victorian-Edwardian era (late 19th and early 20th century) Toronto, Canada, so many characters who have deaths in their families observe this, and many widows keep their mourning black for years after the deaths that prompted the clothing change. Just after her husband Dr. Garland is murdered in "Crime and Punishment", Dr. Ogden doesn't immediately adopt black clothing, and during his interrogation of her, Giles calls her out on it: "How very modern." Julia does wear widow's weeds after this, particularly when she's planning to meet Darcy's parents at the train station and in court during her murder trial.
- AI Natasha of Other Space dons these to mourn the passing of Art the robot.
- "Long Black Veil" originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell. The woman mourning for her deceased lover, who died for a crime he did not commit rather than to expose their affair, wears the long black veil while visiting his grave.
- "Ballad of Forty Dollars" by Tom T. Hall. A man watching from a distance, but not actually attending his friend's funeral, hints at a desire to comfort the widow when he sees how attractive she is. He notes:
That must be the widow in the car
And would you take a look at that?
That sure is a pretty dress
You know, some women do look good in black
He's not even in the ground
And they say that his truck is up for sale
They say she took it pretty hard
But you can't tell too much behind the veil
- Carrie Underwood sings "Two Black Cadillacs" about the funeral of a man who had left both a wife and a lover. One line in the refrain mentions how "the women in the two black veils didn't bother to cry." Overlaps with Black Widow since it is suggested that the women teamed up to take revenge on him after discovering his two-timing.
- The Mars Volta: Referenced in a hypothetical context in "Cassandra Gemini."
- The Beatles recorded "Baby's in Black," about a man pining after a woman who "dresses in black" long after her lover's death.
- "Whiskey Lullaby" by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss. In the video, the guilt-ridden ex-fianceé of the deceased is shrouded in a black shawl at the gravesite. Another woman, presumably his mother, is shown wearing a black veiled hat.
- Walter de la Mare's Widow's Weeds puns on the trope. A poor old Widow in her weeds/Sowed her garden with wild-flower seeds
- In Twelfth Night, Olivia wears a black dress and veil due to the recent loss of her brother.
- In The Importance of Being Earnest, Jack wears full mourning dress when he announces the imaginary death of his imaginary brother Ernest. Almost immediately, Algernon turns up pretending to be Ernest, and comments on what ugly clothes Jack has on.
- Romeo and Juliet: Gloria Capulet wears this during Juliet's staged funeral.
- In Street Scene, Rose changes into a black dress after her mother dies. Her father notices.
- In The Adding Machine, Mrs. Zero wears a black dress ("I always look good in black," she says) and a heavy veil while visiting her husband on the eve of his execution. He scolds her about the cost ($64.20): "You'll be scrubbin' floors in about a year, if you go blowin' your coin like that."
- In Analogue: A Hate Story, *Mute describes doing this when a dear friend of hers passed away.
- In Persona 4, the Death Social Link is Hisano Kuroda, an old woman who always wears black mourning outfit. The Social Link revolves around helping her get over her husband's death.
- Never explicitly noted, but heavily implied with Almedha in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Almedha was once a concubine of the Mad King Ashnard, Path of Radiance's Big Bad, and became queen dowager of Daein in the aftermath of the Mad King's War. She dresses in dark robes, is almost always seen with her veil up, and is noted to be quite fragile as an effect of all she's suffered through, to point of going the God Save Us from the Queen! route for the sake of her beloved false son. Ironic considering that Ashnard never felt anything for her or their child (especially since it was discovered that their half-Dragon Branded child possessed no powers Ashnard could use to further his own ends).
- Barbara Jagger from Alan Wake wears widow's weeds, most likely in honour of her dead boyfriend, Thomas Zane.
- Parodied in Something*Positive. Attention Whore Kharisma Valetti attends theatre bigwig Avagadro Pompey's funeral in an outfit consisting of a sheer negligée over black cloth bands which barely cover her private parts.
- In Rocko's Modern Life, Dr. Hutchison's mother, the Widow Hutchinson is always seen wearing a black dress and veil. Subverted when it's revealed that her husband isn't actually dead.
- Victorian tradition gives copious details for how a widow is expected to dress after her husband's death, and for how long. To cease wearing mourning too soon was a sign of promiscuity. And it's not just one set of clothes either, middle-class etiquette dictate a set of 3 to 7 dresses, from full black crape to shades gray to finally blue (just because her husband is dead does not excuse his wife from flaunting his wealth). It got to the point where the largest clothing store in London is solely devoted to selling mourning clothes. If your are poor, you can make do with dying your regular clothes black (that's how dyers in Victorian England made most of their money) or you can borrow mourning weeds from family (it's the Victorian Era, someone's always dying somewhere).
- For Victorian men, a black hatband is usually sufficient
- Queen Victoria herself wore mourning for the rest of her life after the death of her husband Prince Albert.
- Jackie Kennedy Onassis at JFK's funeral.
- Updated at the Michael Jackson funeral with the women wearing dark glasses instead of a veil. The purpose is the same, to obscure the face and hide teary eyes.