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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
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.
Super modern minimal wedding dress skirt & top with full back coverage
This one is from BHLDN, and it’s actually a two-piece. It’s just got the tiniest little keyhole open in the back… and you could totally sew that shut if you wanted to! The shoulders are almost completely covered.
Two-piece boho linen wedding dress with full 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!
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.