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I've been trying to find wedding dress styles that are short sleeve but offer back coverage. I have had issues with mild acne & severe keloid scarring, specific to my shoulders and back my entire life. Everyone likes to default to “see a dermatologist” or “use accutane” or “you'll still look great!” when I bring this up. Trust me, if there was a way to get rid of it without severely altering the chemical make up of my body, I would have done it. Also, my scarring is glaringly obvious — and I don't want to have to answer questions about it or look back at my photos and be distracted by my skin. So, REALLY, I need an alternative wedding dress. Even boleros & jackets are often see-through. I'm having a very hard time finding attractive dresses that fit that one little criteria. -Rachel

Well, first I'mma piss you off and say that big picture, I'd encourage you to learn to love your back, and all make friends with all aspects of your body.” It's a process takes time, but it's a process I fully encourage you to attend to because… your back is strong! The skin on it may be scarred, but your back has held you up, protected you, and kept you upright for your whole life! I love your back for all it has done for you.

I'll also share here: my stomach is criss-crossed with surgical scars and crinkled from a pregnancy. I hid it for years, but at a certain point I decided I wanted to invest my energy differently, and I shifted gears to celebrating it. I got a few tattoos to decorate the scars, started working out so I could learn to understand my stomach's value for strength (instead of just appearances) and slowly learned to love it in all its scarred, stretched out glory.

So, big picture: learning to love the body parts you're challenged by is well worth the investment. But that takes time. For now, you may just want to find a dress that you feel comfortable in, and I'm not surprised that you're having trouble finding wedding dresses that cover your back! There are reasons, here — strapless dresses have been popular for over a decade because, well, sleeves are a pain to make! Seriously, that's why strapless dresses are so common: they're easier for dressmaker to make.

Also, since traditional weddings feature the bride and groom standing at an altar with their back to their guests, traditional dresses have been all about giving folks lots to look at: that's why there are so many dresses with dramatic plunging backs, and so many buttons, bows, lace, and embellishments on the back.

But I love a challenge, so I rounded up some dresses for you with short sleeves AND full back coverage, all with a slightly offbeat flavor. Some of them show more shoulders, some of them show almost none. I'mma start relatively traditional, and get increasingly offbeat as we go on…

Lace sleeves, complete shoulder coverage

This dress is from Anna Skoblikova, who's featured in the Offbeat Bride Vendor Guide.

Cap sleeves, some shoulder coverage, buttons up the back

This gown shows a little bit more shoulders, but is still totally full coverage on your back.

Mid-length sleeves, full-length wedding gown, full back coverage

This dress has mid-length sleeves, and only moderate shoulder coverage. It's from Wardrobe by Dulcinea, another Offbeat Bride Vendor Guide member.

Retro tea-length wedding dress with full back coverage but only moderate shoulder coverage

This vintage-styled little number is from Dolly Couture.

Two-piece boho linen wedding dress with full shoulder and back coverage

If you're going for a more bohemian / rustic feel, this two-piece linen dress from Cozy Blue Linen gives you a more laid-back vibe, and it's got completely shoulder and back coverage!

Lace cap-sleeved wedding dress with full back coverage

This one might show too much shoulder, but if you want to go super low budget, this dress is available on Amazon for about $100.

Ombre wedding dress with full back coverage

If you want something a little bit more colorful, this ombre wedding dress gives a pop of color while still covering your shoulders and back.

Longsleeved full back coverage light blue wedding dress

I know you said you were looking for short sleeved, but how can you resist this long-sleeved wonder from Etsy seller CathyTelle?! Its high neck gives complete opaque coverage on both the back and shoulders!

Viking queen wedding dress with furry hood and full back

Ok, now we're getting into some really offbeat stuff… if you're having a winter wedding, your options just got AMAZING. This is a Viking queen wedding dress from longtime Offbeat Bride faves, KMKDesigns!

…or what about this WEDDING CAFTAN!?

I hope that was helpful! Here's my pro-tip: if you want to find wedding dresses that cover your back, try searching for modest wedding dresses  — you'll have to wade through lots of long sleeve options, but modest or conservative wedding dresses are more likely to have full back and shoulder coverage.

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Comments on Wedding dresses that cover your back and shoulders

  1. Normally I am totally on team “learn to accept and maybe even love your body as it is,” but I think there is an important part of this question missed in your introduction to the post:

    “…and I don’t want to have to answer questions about it.”

    As someone who also has tons of back acne and raised, noticeable scarring, I would like to gently point out that it is both possible to accept and love your body as is, and still not want to have conversations about it with 2-200 of your nearest and dearest.

    For me personally, I love my body and am thankful for all it has done for me. And I still don’t want to have a million conversations with people about my body, or my choices about my body, literally ever.

    Personally, if I had a nickel for every unsolicited comment made about my body or apperance — up to and including literal moments before I walked down the hecking aisle — I would have been able to pay for our wedding twice over.

    So like… Let a pal wear what they want on their wedding day without a (well intentioned) lecture about loving their bod as is first. As far as we know, OP loves their back and is just tired af of justifying themselves or their choices to folks.

  2. PS: For OP/question asker — I ordered my dress off of an Etsy seller, and picked out one I loved with long sleeves. When it arrived, I had the sleeves altered to my preferred length, and since it was a non-traditional wedding dress, the alterations cost me very little. Might be an option if you’re finding styles you love that have sleeves too long for your taste, but back coverage, which was one of the issues I ran into 🙂

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