Everything was either flower designs or psychedelic swirls or patterns.
My first recollection of trying to be fashionable is during the later 1960s, when I was about fifteen years old. Naturally, you didn’t have any money to buy the clothes you saw in magazines, but the ideas were all in your head. One cheap way that you could join in the flower power era was to buy a paper carrier bag at T & G Allan’s in Blackett Street, Newcastle. This shop was the most wonderful stationer you could possibly imagine, it sold every conceivable kind of paper for every occasion. Then one day it had a wall full of paper carrier bags in the most gorgeous colours and designs. They were absolutely ‘top mod’.
I remember luxuriating about which one to buy for hours, before settling for one with a white background and rows of daisies in different colours (I can still see it in my mind’s eye now). I walked out of that shop, swinging my new bag, feeling a million dollars. It went everywhere with me and, surprisingly, was quite sturdy. I think our teachers thought we were lowering the tone when we used them to carry school work in them.
Everything was either flower designs or psychedelic swirls and patterns. It was the Mary Quant era, with the Vidal Sassoon bobbed haircut and knee length boots in patent leather (black or white), all put together to create ‘the look’. The first boutiques I remember were behind Blackett Street, next to Fenwick’s and also in the Handyside Arcade, Percy Street. I bought my first mini-dress there, hand made on the premises. Floppy hats were also fashionable, just to finish the outfits off, but it took a bit of nerve to wear one.
I followed loads of fashion fads after that, but the flower power bag was the start of it all.