The issue of what to wear as a woman travelling to India was something that I struggled to find a lot of information on before my trip. Most websites and guide books I read had conflicting accounts of what to wear – some saying that most western clothes were fine everywhere and others saying the opposite. I had no idea what to wear!
Although I never did so, I definitely wouldn’t recommend showing any cleavage or too much leg in India (unless you’re on the beach in Goa, for example). One woman on my Golden Triangle Tour did both of these almost every single day and got some seriously disapproving looks from locals. I think they found it very disrespectful in such a conservative and religious country.
To avoid being like that woman here’s my take on what to wear (and what not to wear!) in India.
The majority of India is hot and very often humid so you need clothes that will keep you modestly covered while also keeping you cool. I bought a few pairs of lightweight trousers in different colours specially for India and found they came in really handy. High street shops are full of these types of trousers. Buy them in a few different colours and you’ll be looking stylish while keeping cool.
I teamed my lightweight trousers with simple t-shirts in a few different colours. T-shirts are perfect for India as they keep you covered but are also cotton which is perfect for wearing in the heat. They’re also cheap and easy to find in pretty much any high street shop!
I also felt comfortable wearing leggings and a dress or long tunic. This was also perfect for keeping cool – I’m not used to such crazy heat coming from Scotland!
I also carried a thin scarf with me during most of my days in India. I’d recommend carrying one if you want to enter any religious sites where you may need to cover your shoulders or head.
I fully intended to use my scarf to cover myself during my visit to Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi however, upon arrival they dressed all women in what can only be described as an extremely flowery over-sized dressing gown. Sexy.
One thing you should definitely take with you for a trip to India is mosquito repellent (it is technically something you wear!). I wore a mosquito repellent band around my wrist for the duration of my trip and wasn’t bitten once, while other members of my tour group were definitely suffering.
My biggest piece of advice on what to wear in India is to use your common sense. If you think your top is showing a little too much boob or your skirt is too short then it probably is. Bear in mind that this is a very conservative country and you should respect that at all times. Nobody wants to be that one ignorant traveller who sticks out like a culturally unaware sore thumb!
Do you have any other tips on what to wear in India?