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How to dress in India?

Are you going to India? Before you pack a suitcase, you should know about a few rules of clothing.

India is one of those places where you need to be prepared in terms of wardrobe. Despite that it’s a warm country, you need to forget about your favorite mini dresses and denim shorts.

Many styles of clothing that are common on West are offensive to Indian people. It’s well known fact that our outfit determines the way people react to us. In India, women who dress and behave modestly are much more valued than those who disregard cultural norms. A modest outfit helps to blend with the crowd and doesn’t provoke. Exposing the legs, arms or cleavage suggests sexual accessibility and is interpreted as an encouragement. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have in mind to provoke anybody. You can try to be a rebel, but in such crowded and foreign country, you will not win anything, rather than exposing yourself to unpleasant taunts.

That’s why because of respect for Indian culture and for your own comfort, I would rather suggest adapting the rules.

It’s true that many girls and women, especially in Bombay or Delhi, wear Western clothes like skinny jeans or shorter tops. Yet as a foreigner and guest, it’s always better to be precautious. And don’t look at Bollywood movies or fashion magazines, because they still don’t have much in common with everyday life of Indian people. The basic standards of modesty throughout India include shoulders, cleavage and knees covering. Underwear should always be discreet and unseen. Forget about tight pants and skirts. Anyway, if you decide to wear them, put on a looser and longer tunic or kimono that will cover your buttocks. Although in big cities the tops revealing the arms are becoming more common, they are generally not accepted.

Similarly, all kinds of spaghetti-strap blouses and dresses. However, blouses with short sleeves are perfectly fine.   If you plan to sunbathe, choose a one-piece swimming suit. Even in touristic Goa, I haven’t seen many women in bikinis. And if there were any, they were surrounded by a group of Indian men gazing at them insistently.  In some conservative locations and in many places of worship you must also cover your head. The best way is to observe the surroundings. Look what the locals do and repeat it.

Despite some limitations, India also gives many opportunities to show off. What you can notice right away is that women are always colorfully dressed, wear a lot of jewelry and decorate hands and feet with henna. To me, Indian streets are associated with a blaze of colors unseen anywhere else in the world.

Damn, you live once! If you prefer beige and black on a daily basis, then in India you can really go wild.  Have a look on a few of my favorite clothing tricks, thanks to which you will feel like a part of this fascinating street fashion, without offending anyone’s feelings. It’s worth thinking about what to pack to India in advance or prepare for a huge shopping on site (the choice is big and clothes are cheaper than in Europe or the US):

 Maxi dresses

I absolutely love them because they always and everywhere look good. Choose from thin cotton. If they have a colorful pattern, then the whole look is done.

Long skirts

They don’t have to cover the ankles. It’s enough to cover your knees. I like long, light skirts and put them together with tops or crop tops.

Loose pants

They are super comfortable and very airy. When it’s hot, it’s better to cover the body with thin materials than to expose them to the sun. What’s more loose, longer clothes protect you against mosquitoes.

 Thin scarf

The absolute number one when traveling around India! Firstly, it will be useful when visiting temples, where women cover their heads. Secondly, if your blouse or top has thinner straps, just put a scarf on your shoulders and you’re ready to go! Thirdly, the scarf over the shoulder can also be an interesting way to enliven your outfit. What’s more, it will be useful in air-conditioned places and will protect against the AC turned on to the maximum.

Sandals or flip-flops

Especially, those which are easy to put on and take off, because in the majority of temples and palaces in India you will have to take them off (and leave before entering). The streets in India are dirty and dusty, so shoes that are easy to wash will also be practical.

 A lot of jewellery

The easiest way to spice up even the simplest outfit.  The rule is simple: the more golden and colorful jewellery – the better! Big earrings, chains, rings and bracelets on the feet and wrists. Everything is allowed, and in India this amount somehow fits and plays with colorful clothes. I recommend you buying jewellery at the markets on site – unlimited choice and super low prices guaranteed.

Tops with short sleeves

Spaghetti-straps are forbidden, but all tops with short sleeves and crop tops revealing the belly are totally ok! Showing the belly in India is fine. Just look around the street and you see that most women wearing traditional sari expose belly and lower back.

Maybe you will consider wearing a traditional sari, which is probably one of the most beautiful styles of dress in the world. This is still the most common form of women’s clothing in India and, in my opinion, it makes this country unique. Sari is comfortable and easy to wear when you get used to it. It’s tied in a different ways and requires practice, but every Indian woman will be happy to show you how to do it. If you decide to wear a sari, it doesn’t necessarily have to cost a fortune. Even ordinary cotton sari will look very nice.

It is important to remember that clothing should respect culture, no matter where we are. Indian people will also appreciate our cultural sensitivity, if we dress according to local standards. In addition, it’s a perfect way to explore the culture and become a part of it, even if it’s just for a while :)

12 Comments

  1. Ale mi się Te Twoje stylizacje podobają, co prawda ja nosze zupelnie inne kolory, ale etno i boho stylizacje przemawiaja do mnie totanie!
    W tym sezonie tez odkryłam szerokie spodnie!

  2. Twoje stylizacje są przepiękne i idealnie pasują di klimatu miejsc. Zawsze z podziwem oglądam Twoje zdjęcia i to jak potrafisz dobrać ubrania do miejsc, które odwiedzasz<3 Super!

  3. Bardzo praktyczne i pomocne porady. Szczególnie dla nas kobiet, które znacznie bardziej muszą się nakombinować z ubraniami w podróży. Swoją drogą – niebieska sukienka jest mistrzowska!

  4. Bardzo fajny post. Oby więcej takich dzięki czemu podróżowanie będzie bardziej świadome. Niestety trafiam też na blogi tzw. “podróżników”, którzy o szacunku dla kultur odmiennych dawno temu zapomnieli i czasem to mnie śmieszy, a czasem przeraża jak np. Pani stoi w szortach jak ze stroju kąpielowego w otoczeniu Arabów w kefijach… Fajnie jakbyś jeszcze napisała kiedyś gdzie udaje Ci się kupić takie luźne spodnie z cienkiego materiału bo ja mam czasem z tym problem.

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