What to wear in India?

What to wear in India? What kind of clothes would be safe to wear? What should I pack? Can I carry my shorts along? Should I carry cotton or linen or woollens or all? Should I carry flats or high heels? Are these questions in your mind too? Well then read along, as I pen down some basic tips that would help you pack that bag for your trip to India.

What should you wear in India?

"What to wear in India"
Tourists in India wearing Indian clothing. Source: Eric.Parker’s on flickr

The first rule of travelling in India or for that matter anywhere is to travel light, hence carry minimal clothing. If need be, you can always purchase in India itself considering clothing is fairly economical plus there are shortages of clothes shops.

The mindset across the world is that India is a very traditional and conservative in terms of clothing and attires. However, there is more to that! If you are travelling to cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Calcutta (Kolkata) or Pune, you will find that the dressing is fairly modern and liberal so you can wear jeans, t-shirts and skirts. The only point to keep in mind is dressing in a way to avoid unwanted attention. The tip therefore is to avoid any clothing that is too revealing. In religious towns and villages on the other hand it is better to don fairly traditional clothing.

Female tourist in India what to wear in India
Foreign female tourist at the Red Fort in Delhi

Here’s my guide to a female student travelling in India

The weather in India is usually hot and humid hence jeans at times can become uncomfortable to wear. So the alternative could be cotton pants or trousers for the ladies. It could be full length or knee length. You could team it up with shirts, t-shirts or tops. For men a cotton trouser with shirt is always the best option and you could go for shorts too.

Things you need to travel in the summer

Another factor to keep in mind while picking clothes is the hot sun and the mosquitoes in India. Hence to avoid that distasteful sun tan during the day and the mosquito bites at night it is always advisable to wear full sleeved clothes.

If your itinerary includes a place of worship such as temples, mosques or gurudwaras then women must wear long skirts or trousers; preferably with full sleeve shirts or tops and carry a stole or a scarf to cover the head. Also, one must remove the footwear before entering any religious place.

Japanese tourist wearing sari in Agra
Japanese tourist wearing sari in Agra

There is always the apprehension whether or not to wear sleeveless shirts and tops in India. The idea is if decent then anything can be worn without worry. Also, your backpack should always have a scarf or stole and an umbrella. The latter could serve you both in the sun and in rain.

If you are going to a beach destination then carry your swimwear along as Indians do not use swimwear that much and you may find it difficult hunting down the right one for you. However there are exceptions; there are no such reservations on the beaches of Goa.

What should white female tourists wear in India?

India is very hot during the months of March to October hence pack light clothes, preferably cotton. Also carry lots of sunscreen and mosquito repellents along. Indian winters can be very extreme too, especially in the North, hence carry abundant warm clothes for a vacation in that season.

Now for the footwear, it is always comfortable to wear flat shows, trainers and sneakers. Flip flips will also do well. High heels can best be avoided.

If you wish to blend in and want to explore some Indian clothes then you could wear Kurtis, Churidars, salwars and harem pants. These are readily available in the local markets and are comfortable too.

Find out what Indians wear here

Dress modestly and you’ll sail through your holiday in India with ease and without any uninvited stares.

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