Back to the 80s: Vintage Vogue 1308 Claude Montana dress

One thing that always strikes me when I look at fashion images from the early 80s is how warm those power dressing ladies must have been. They’re invariably wrapped in several layers, often of heavy wool, and with gloves and hats on top. Perfect for a UK winter.

This dress is very much part of that sort of look. It’s from a vintage Vogue Claude Montana pattern, number 1308. My copy came off eBay. This one comes up fairly often and inexpensively second hand so I imagine it sold well when it was in print. There’s no date on it, but comparing with the numbers and dates of Vogue patterns recorded in COPA suggests it is from 1983. I haven’t been able to find an image of the exact garment on the catwalk, unfortunately, although YouTube videos of Montana collections from 1983 have some similar styles.

The pattern has three pieces: the dress, a jacket, and a stole (the latter winning the award for the most unnecessary pattern piece ever – a giant rectangle with no markings that must have taken up an entire sheet of pattern tissue). The dress has huge 80s shoulder pads and some shaped topstitching detail around the neck and shoulders which is echoed in the jacket. But the main feature is the opening bands down the back and arms.

You’re supposed to use snaps as the band closures, which matches what I’ve seen in a lot of contemporary fashion images, but Vogue suggests buttons as an alternative and I agree – I’d be terrified of the snaps coming undone down the back. I was surprised that 1.5cm buttons were suggested which seem rather on the small side for the width of the band. Presumably that matches the size of the snaps on the original garment. My buttons are 2cm which I think looks better.

I had a hard time deciding on fabric for this. The envelope says ‘wool jersey, wool double knit, challis, lightweight crepe and raw silk’ but it’s not stated which of the pieces each fabric suggestion is for. Clearly the fabric for the dress needs to be heavy enough to support the closures so I went with the double knit option, although mine is a poly-viscose-elastane mix from Minerva rather than wool. It comes in a huge range of colours. This one is ‘ochre’ and I’m really enjoying having a change from neutrals.

This was a fairly easy sew although I didn’t follow the instructions exactly. They would have you turn under a tiny (6mm) hem on all the facings and then topstitch exactly along that line to secure the facing. This was not at all easy in a thick and bouncy ponte knit, so after the first few attempts I gave up and left the remaining facing edges flat and unfinished before topstitching. In a fraying fabric I’d have overlocked them, or I suppose they could be bound for a really fancy finish.

Those big shoulders aren’t just shoulder pads alone. There’s an extra crescent shaped stiffening layer inside the dress at the shoulder edge to help produce that very wide and rounded shape. This sort of detail is one of the things I love about Vogue patterns. Sadly I wasn’t able to track down a copy of the recommended vintage pattern for making authentic 80s shoulder pads, so I had to buy my pads from eBay and they aren’t quite the right shape or size.

I had a hard time getting the top of the back button band to sit nicely when worn. It looked fine on my dress form, but on me the outer corner of the top band kept curling outwards. The closures aren’t needed for function so I tacked it down.

I’ve only made the dress from the pattern, but my Burda 105 2/2021 jacket is a similar style to the Montana jacket and looks good with my dress. It also provides much needed pockets to the outfit.

I’ve been surprised how much I’ve worn this dress considering it was a bit of a stunt project. It’s so roomy I can get a jumper under it which has been great for keeping warm. Forget the nineties revival, I’m sticking with the eighties.

Thanks to my husband for taking the photos.

37 thoughts on “Back to the 80s: Vintage Vogue 1308 Claude Montana dress

  1. Catherine, needless to say, you’re sewing is impeccable. I love that you’re introducing more color in your sewing! Beautiful job!

  2. I just love this- the colour and contrast buttons. It’s great that your denim coat goes so well with it, both in size and colour. Blue and yellow is a great combination.

  3. Your new dress is beautiful: I always find it interesting to see older patterns sewn up in modern fabrics and styled in a contemporary way. It looks wonderful in combination with your jacket: a match made in heaven, I think.

    1. Yes, I am so glad not to be restricted to what is in the shops right now because I wore the 90s stuff first time out and am not ready for it to come back yet!

  4. it looks great on you and with the jacket a fantastic outfit. I find great info on older patterns on the pattern wiki site I have never yet found something not listed there and it’s a great resource for determining the year, etc.

    1. Thanks! I’d forgotten about the vintage pattern wiki, it’s a great site. And interestingly they have two versions of this one – it seems Vogue changed the cover

  5. Love this outfit on you! I think the dress color against the black of your coat is fabulous! Also, with your height, you can easily carry these pieces. Cobalt blue trousers??? Wowza! You are on a roll!

  6. Great dress!! I’m working on a roomy 1985 Vogue Dior coat. It too has gigantic shoulder pads (though I ditched them). Love the detail and your work, as always. The coat goes well!

  7. looking fabulous in that shape and color! and i say yes to the 80s too (also won’t take part of 90s revival, there’s not a single thing from the 90s i would like to bring back).. and seeing your beautiful burda coat reminded me that i have orange cotton one cut and ready to be made and i must get at it already, it;s been sitting somewhere for months

  8. I was thinking that dress looked familiar! I have that pattern, tho never made it. And I probably bought it in the 80’s!! Looks great on you and a good match with that coat.

    1. It is! And I finally found a copy (eBay again) so I am prepared for future 80s projects. I’ve got my eye on a Montana jacket that needs enormous shoulder pads.

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