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What to wear in India?

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I wore local clothes for the vast majority of the time – I was teaching and in school it was compulsory to wear salwaar kameez, and I loved it so wore it most of the time outside of school as well. Whilst travelling around I did wear my own trousers quite often.

I realised just how much difference it made one day, whilst in Kerala, in Periyar (a national park) – I decided to wear a (crew neck) tshirt and trousers, as it seemed more practical for the jungle-type walk we were going on – and the increase in staring and comments was immense.

I did encounter some amusement – but mostly from girls my own age, who often didn’t speak much english, and were intrigued by me wearing Indian clothes – so it was definately a positive amusement! It started up various conversations I never would have had if I was in western clothes.

Note – if you do decide to wear local clothes, make sure you wear the dupatta (scarf)! Lots of westerners abandon it, and it makes wearing local clothes a bit pointless!


im going to be traveling from mumbai to calcutta via new delhi this summer. is it considered ok to wear shorts? or should i go for the linen trousers?


Hey, I’m also going to India in just under a month – doing the same places as you. I’m planning on buying a salwar kameez when I arrive in Delhi. I’ve looked into it and apparently Indian people really appreciate Westerners wearing Indian clothes.

You can have a salwar made for you very easily – just purchase the material and they make it in a couple of hours. It’d be cheaper buying it in India than buying in the UK – and also not as special.

Try Janpath, Karol Bagh and Delhi Haat for cheap Indian clothes. I pick mine at Janpath, shirts in Rs. 100 – 200 each.

I’m taking a pair of cheap lightweight linen trouser and a short sleeved shirt for the first couple of days until I can buy Indian garments. I’m going to try to get a sari – but apparently they are notoriously difficult to wear and sometimes Westerners and not sold them for some reason.

Please don’t, O’ yeah, please don’t wear sari in public. Make you look funny. Can wers on social occasions, but not as a daily dress. Dress taste in India has changed dramatically and it is more business like than sari.

Check out THIS site for more information about what to wear in India. 🙂

When are you arriving/leaving India? x


I’m fairly new here.. so not too sure if there are many Indians around (at least it doesn’t seem like it for some reason). Was reading up on all these India related threads and it seems like there is a lot of paranoia when it comes to how safe this nation is for tourists.. all of it was a little disturbing for me and thought I’d clear some points out!

Anyway, I’m an Indian, born and brought up in Mumbai and have grown (quite literally too) to love this country and my city. So coming to the whole clothing issue, I don’t see anything wrong with anyone wearing western wear.. if you ever come down to Mumbai you’ll see a million girls wearing western outfits.. revealing or otherwise the most that’ll do is that it’ll turn a few heads 🙄 I suppose it is relatively harmless and it’s a typical response of any male; nationality irrespective! (you can drive around in a maserati and probably get the same response).

Now for the serious issue of physical intrusion.. Please report these cases no matter how trivial they are, as not doing so will just encourage these perpetrators to commit such acts again in the future. Please do not let these goons go unchallenged as they are a menace to everyone here; locals and foreigners alike!

Finally.. I’d really like to say that most Indians are very liberal and I trust I just represented that group. As a liberal and secular country, the focus should be on curbing such acts of assault… NOT on forcing girls to cover-up! (reminds me of the taliban!!) So please wear what you wear usually and what you are comfortable in!

Hope that wasn’t too serious or heavy!!

p.s : As for creeps with staring issues .. it’d be safe to assume they don’t have access to the internet 😆


I spent a lot of time in those shorts that come to just above the knee (I think they are called city shorts). I found them great for the hot weather because you didn’t get too hot and you didn’t reveal too much either. They also don’t ride up! Long maxi skirts are also great for the evening or just strolling around but not too good it you are going to be on the move. I don’t find Indian clothing very comfortable especially if you are trekking or doing other activities. That said Kurta’s can be quite comfortable worn with simple elasticated cotton trousers.

I went to a traditional family occasion at a local families house and they dressed me in a Sari. They were having so much fun dressing me up – they were like little girls giggling like crazy! I wore the Sari all day but it was very hard to wear. People don’t realise how many bits there are to a Sari until you put one on!!!! I was also really hot because it was made of thick Assamese silk – a bit like curtain material. It was very beautiful though and I even kept it and have it here at home.

I also felt more comfortable wearing a halterneck bikini top when it got really hot instead of a bra.

The main thing when travelling in India is to be comfortable in what you are wearing. If you feel uncomfortable by the way you are dressed you will really feel so bad. I don’t dress too differently in India to the way I dress back home but just no short skirts or no bra straps on show. The main thing is to be confident. Once you master this you won’t even notice people staring at you. I feel like a local now when I go!!!!



Okay so how about shoes? What are good shoes to wear?
I’m going to be in New Delhi, Bengaluru and Goa.

Will flip flops be ok?


Hi everyone…I am 34 year old white female and have been planning a solo three week trip to Rajasthan in Feb 09…however on doing further reading about groping and hassle have started to be put off by the whole thing and am saly reconsiderig…

I know what you wear matters a lot and I respect that you need to wear long skirts, long shorts and keep things covered when travelling. Having said that…I still want some sun on my skin!

I was therefore wondering whether people know what the dress code is for swimming pools at hotels? I am planning 8 destinations and along the way plan to stay in or use pools at Jodhpur, Udaipur, jaipur and Delhi…will I will be able to relax in a bikinni or is that out of the question?

Thanks very much!


If you’re staying in a Westernised hotel with a pool, then you can wear a bikini – but you will be likely to get started at by any locals (and depending on the kind of bikini you’re wearing non-locals too!).

I know what you wear matters a lot and I respect that you need to wear long skirts, long shorts and keep things covered when travelling. Having said that…I still want some sun on my skin!

When I was in N. India, I didn’t get any tan at all – not even a watch strap line! However I went in monsoon season so the sun didn’t really ever get through the clouds. Even so, I made sure I was covered up.

I wore loose linen trousers with a knee length loose sundress over the top and a pashmina to cover my shoulders and arms, and I noticed a great deal of change in the respect I got compared to a day I wore a tank top.

In fact when we visited the Taj Mahal people wanted to take photographs of me and my fiancé (who was also dressed conservatively) with their family members!


Watch what local gals of similar age wear. In metropolitan cities, they usually wear a mix of eastern and western dress.


OK, it is easy to wear local clothes but how will you maintain gesture, body language, sense of humor, languages etc….?

I think you are fine in your own country dress as well…… because Indians want to see your natural style also…..

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