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16 stylish black dresses you can wear to a funeral & the etiquette to follow

There is an unspoken dress code at funerals...

kate black dress
Leanne Bayley
Leanne BayleyDirector of Lifestyle & Commerce
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It has been a tradition, and a sign of respect, to wear black to a funeral, but while some may wear a black dress, others may opt for a two-piece suit, or a skirt and blouse. 

We know funerals are about showing a sign of respect to lost loved ones, and the families of those grieving, so for those looking to follow the right dress code etiquette, we can lend a helping hand.

meghan markle funeral style
Meghan Markle arrived at the funeral of The Queen wearing a Stella McCartney cape dress with a below-the-knee hem and covered shoulders

Do you have to wear black to a funeral?

It is a common tradition in the UK to wear black to a funeral, however, you don't have to follow this. Dark colours, including navy blue, or dark grey, are also deemed acceptable, while bright colours or prints are said to be distracting from the event at hand. 

However, it is to the discretion of the lost loved one's family, and the guests, as on some occasions families encourage guests to wear bright colours as a celebration of the person’s life. Each case is unique. 

 How we chose funeral-appropriate black dresses

Colour: Ok, this might be an obvious one. We filtered our search to black. Navy is also acceptable but we kept it traditional for this edit.

Modesty: We looked for dresses that were deemed respectable - no cut-out dresses or backless dresses in this edit.

Speedy delivery: In times of grief you might have a million and one things to do before the funeral and finding a dress might be a last minute chore. To make things easier all these dresses have speedy delivery options.

Why you should trust me

I haven't tried any of these dresses on, but I know what styles to show you, and I know from first-hand experience how overwhelming a funeral of a loved one can be. When my mum passed away in February 2021 my whole world shattered into a million pieces. I remember my two sisters and I discussed what we'd wear to the funeral and I intended to wear a very plain black dress, but the night before I decided I wanted to go for something a bit more glamorous. I felt like my mum would want me to sparkle in some way, and I was reading her eulogy on the day so I felt even more pressure. I ended up choosing a dress from my wardrobe that I had once wore to watch Magic Mike Live! (yes, really) but it was a velvet shift dress with long sleeves and it featured three sparkly rhinestone buttons at the neckline. It's a lovely dress but I'm not sure I can wear it again. 

It was a chilly day in early March so I wore the knee-length dress with black tights, black boots and a black cape coat. The service was being recorded for family and friends that couldn't attend due to restrictions so I wore a black bow in my hair. I did feel nice on the day and "dressing up" put me in the mindset of the funeral being a celebration of my mum's life, but everyone grieves differently and ultimately it's about making it through the day in the best way you can. I hope you like my edit below, I've followed the criteria that's stated above; the colour, respectful styles and speedy delivery options.  

Where to shop for a black dress for a funeral 


marks & spencer black dress for a funeral

M&S has a whole host of black dresses, coats, jumpsuits and much more to shop online, from their own brands, as well as other retailers. 

However, it is this sleek, classy and timeless black dress, which we believe is one of the most suitable for a funeral. 


This tea dress from ASOS is a great funeral option. The design features a midi length and collared neckline which keeps it formal, but its lightweight fabric and subtle split also ensure it is comfortable and will keep you cool.

John Lewis 

John Lewis black funeral dress

For those looking for a stylish, yet formal, dress to wear to a funeral, we have found it. This Curve creation features a keyhole feature, but it's not too revealing that it’s inappropriate for the formal occasion. 

River Island

If you would like a more structured formal look, along the lines of something Princess Kate would wear, River Island's black shirt dress is modest yet modern.

New Look 

new look black and white dress for a funeral

Yes, this is a little bit of a gamble but at the funerals I've been to, monochrome seems to be very respectful and the base colour on this dress is black so I think it would look very smart indeed. 

Karen Millen

best funeral dresses karen millen

Or choose Karen's Millen's belted black dress – Princess Kate owns this exact piece in yellow. It's structured and restrained with covered shoulders - an appropriate silhouette for a somber occasion.


MANGO black dress

Mango has created this smart wrap dress, with a flattering short sleeves, and hoop detail at the waist, which makes this perfect for those attending a funeral, as it is simple, timeless yet formal. Layer with a blazer, or long tailored pea coat, heeled boots, or heeled court shoes.

Ted Baker 

Ted Baker Dress

Ted Baker knows how to do formal garments and occasionwear well. This design is formal for any occasion, and appropriate for a funeral thanks to the simple design and covered shoulders. 


cos black shirt dress

A shirt dress is always a good idea, for any occasion, especially for a funeral. This particular design falls midway down the calf, which makes it a more modest choice for the sombre tone following one's passing.


boden shift dress in black

Boden's new-in shift dress would look smart styled like the model, over a white blouse. Would also look very smart with thick black tights and a pair of black ballet flat shoes. 

Phase Eight

phase eight black knitted dress for funeral

For those who aren't sure what to wear to a funeral, this knitted dress is a good style to follow.


Reiss has created an elegant and lightweight black knitted cashmere dress perfect for a funeral, which can also be recycled for your workwear wardrobe.


ghost black dress

Ghost has an impressive collection of dresses to suit all occasions, from weddings to funerals, and even Holly Willoughby is known to have worn the brand. The Flora dress is ideal for a funeral in the summer months because of the short angel sleeves.

Nobody's Child 

Nobody's Child Dress

Nobody's Child has a collection of dresses to shop, including appropriate black dresses for a funeral. 

The puff sleeve detail and stylish tea dress shape add a little extra touch to a classic black midi dress, but not too much to distract from the sad event. 


hobbs black mel dress

While a long-sleeved dress is often preferred at a funeral, this chic sleeveless design can be worn on its own or layered under a blazer, or over a blouse or shirt, which is why it is one design we recommend.  

Mint Velvet 

Mint velvet black shirt dress for a funeral

If you have to attend a funeral during a rainy day, this could be a great option. Yes, the model might be styled in a very autumnal look but if you add a pair of black court shoes you'll hit the unwritten dress code spot on. 

Do you have to wear a hat to a funeral?

Similar to the colour scheme, this option is totally dependent on your preference. 

kate middleton coat dress queen state funeral
A tailored coat dress, such as the bespoke look the Princess of Wales wore to the Queen's funeral, is a proper choice for more formal gatherings

Wearing a hat, veil, or fascinator, is typically deemed a sign of respect, but it is not essential.

The general rule of thumb is subtlety is key so as not to distract from the funeral. 

RELATED: Best places to buy a hair fascinator

What should you avoid wearing to a funeral? 

Funerals are a time you must show your respect, which is why casualwear is deemed inappropriate. 

We recommend avoiding short skirts, or dresses, as well as low-cut and revealing garments if possible. Some may also avoid sleeveless, off-the-shoulder dresses, or designs with spaghetti straps, in favour of covering their shoulders in a place of worship. 

T-shirts, vest tops, tracksuits, sandals or flip-flops are an absolute no-go.  

Some may choose to wear black thick leggings instead of tights under a dress, or jeans instead of trousers, and that is a decision only you can make. 

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