When I pack for a trip, I usually take a quick look at the weather and put clothes in my suitcase that will match that. With India, I had to buy much of my wardrobe specifically for the trip. It’s important to dress respectfully in India, especially as a woman, and the last thing I wanted to do was disrespect their culture. Here’s my list of what to wear in India that’s comfortable and respectful.
The general rule is that you should cover your shoulders and knees while in public. There’s some leeway with this, as I saw some tourists wearing tank tops. I’m not sure how the locals perceived them, though. I decided to cover up at all times to make sure I was respectful.
When you’re at a mosque, you may be given something to throw over you or to cover your head. You’ll also need to take off your shoes or wear shoe covers. This isn’t the place to try to argue, so just comply with what they’re requesting.
This is by far the easiest way to cover up. If you have one or two lightweight ones, feel free to bring them with you. You’ll find so many beautiful scarves at street markets and textile shops that I highly recommend waiting to buy them. You can throw them around your shoulders while you’re wearing a tank top so you stay cool and are covered up.
Bringing dark clothing is something I couldn’t recommend enough. When you’re in the bigger cities, dirt and dust are everywhere. There’s probably no faster way to run a pair of white pants than to wear them on the streets of Delhi. Stick to somewhat dark clothing so it’ll come out later when you wash it.
Before I left, I bought these lounge pants at Uniqlo. They’re lightweight so you’ll be cool while walking around. The pants are also really thin so you’ll be able to pack light while traveling around India. I gray and navy so they’d go with a variety of tops.
They also sell a variety of harem or “Ali Baba” pants in India with wild patterns, but you’ll stand out as a tourist a bit more. I loved the patterns on the ones I’m wearing below, so I didn’t mind standing out a bit.
If you bring plain colored shirts in addition to everything above, you’ll have such an easy time mixing and matching your outfits each day. I brought white, pink, and navy shirts to change up my outfits and make it seem like I had more clothes than I actually brought.
Skirts are my favorite piece of clothing to wear anywhere. They cover your legs well while being flowy enough to keep you cool. I brought a few of my own, but ended up buying several more while there. The bright colors of the Indian culture was one of my favorite parts about visiting.
If you’re going to tourist attractions, you’ll have to take your shoes off more often than not. It’s easier to just have on slip-on shoes to get in and out faster. Either way, make sure they’re comfortable since you’ll be doing a lot of walking around. I use my Skechers GOWalk everywhere I go and have never complained of tired feet. They may not be the most fashionable, but they’ve literally gotten me all over the world pain-free.
I saw many Indian women wearing these, so decided to buy one myself. They’re really comfortable and fit perfectly over a pair of leggings. You could even wear this in the summer without overheating due to how light it is.
It does get cold at night, especially the further north you are. Bring a light cardigan to put over your outfit if you go outside. When I went camping, I was glad I had it around the campfire so I could enjoy the stars outside.
How to Dress for Men
There’s not much to say if you’re a guy – you have it easy. Just don’t run down the streets nude and you’ll be fine. As you can see in the picture below, the traditional Indian clothing for men are these flowy white outfits. A majority of the men, especially the younger generation, dress in Western clothing. You can wear what you normally wear and get away with it.
I don’t usually buy souvenirs, but I went crazy with all the beautiful clothing there was in India. My advice is pack light on your way there and make sure to leave plenty of room for shopping. Some of the items are so unique to the country, so I’m glad I got them.
What country is your favorite piece of clothing from?
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