Shopping for a dress that goes with the garment

So you know you’re going to need sleeves. . . lost after that? Here are some tips for things to look for, ask about, and consider when choosing a wedding dress that beautifully compliments the garment.

Masako Formals Real Brides customize their wedding gowns in ways that keeps the original look of the dress, while meeting their elegant, feminine styles.

LDS wedding_bolero_3
This is the ideal shape for covering the garment – full cap sleeves with a high neckline in the back. Make sleeves or a bolero like this one in an opaque fabric or as show in lace + a lining underneath for easy no-brainer coverage.



  1. Most wedding dresses in your average bridal shop will not cover the garment, so you will need to make alterations to almost any dress you choose. Bridal shops with an in-house seamstress and discounted alterations are a big plus.
  2. Bring the garment with you when you are shopping for a wedding dress and try it on with every dress so you don’t have to guess what it will look like, or what alterations will need to cover.
  3. The back of the garment is much higher than the front, so finding a dress with a lot of back coverage is a bonus.
  4. When shopping for a dress, you should ask:
    • Does the designer of the dress sell extra fabric by the yard to make the customizations or will the store be providing the material? (*especially important for lace dresses)
    • What’s the price range for alterations for custom sleeves or a custom bolero?
    • How long do such alterations generally take?
LDS wedding dress 2
An example of a bolero or sleeve option over a sweetheart neckline – add lining under the entirety of the sleeves, or add enough satin to cover the garment only.

Things that work:

  • Sweetheart tops – surprisingly most sweetheart necklines cover the garment and give nice shape to top of the dress
  • Adding custom cap sleeves or long sleeves in an opaque fabric or lining (option to cover the opaque fabric with a matching lace or netting, depending on your dress)
  • Finding or making a custom bolero that fits over top the dress (option to make it with an illusion neckline in the front to keep the original neckline of the dress visible).

Recommended: See Lillian West’s collection of boleros and cover-ups

Things that can be tricky but are still do-able with the right seamstress and enough time:

  • Dresses with low backs
  • Dresses with illusion necklines – at first glance they look like they provide more coverage, but actually a dress with an illusion neckline can be more difficult to work with than just creating a completely new bolero. This is because the garment is much higher in the back than in the front and illusion necklines are usually in the front as well as back. Working with an illusion neckline dress will really depend on the skill and creativity of the seamstress.

Example of a dress that can be customized:

LDS wedding dress 1
This dress will adequately cover the garment, and only needs to be lined with an opaque satin.