My life in India

What to wear in India: female travelers’ guide

Why would I write one more article on what to wear in India if there are so many blog posts on the net dedicated to this subject? There are plenty of fantastic female travel bloggers who’s been inspired by India and are glad to give advice on how to be both culturally accepted and comfortable in this part of the world.

If you google what to wear in India, you’ll see some wonderful articles not only on the first two pages but also further on. This is actually the main reason why I avoided writing on this subject for so long. I mean, it would be natural for a female blogger who lives in India and travels extensively across the country to express her views on the matter. But it was done so many times before me that I felt it was absolutely unnecessary.

Nevertheless, I was approached a  number of times by women from different countries who were about to embark on their big South East Asia adventure and needed my advice on what to wear in India. As a person who’s stayed in this country for 13 years and managed to make it feel like home, I guess I’m expected to share my opinion on how to dress here. Alrigth then, let’s go ahead and talk it over.

What to wear in India: a lazy expat’s advice

Honestly speaking, ladies, if you’re comfortable in jens and t-shirts, htere is nothing wrong with sticking to this universal and multipurpose attire when traveling in  India. Yes, it’s a bit hot for wearing jeans, but  if millions of Indian men and women can make it thourhg the day, you can definitely do this, too. I’m a lazy jeans and t-shirt girl who is not particularly fond of dressing up, and this sort of attitude alays worked for me both in day to day life in India and during my journeys.

Here I am in Delhi:

What to wear in india for women

And here in Hyderabad, sitting on the  top of the Golconda Fort:

How to dress in India as a solo female traveler

There was nothing wrong with being dressed like this, and not wearing harem pants with elephant print didn’t detract from my expereince 🙂 Just make sure your t-shirt is not crop top, and your cleavage is not exposed, and you are good to go!

However, Sometimes I feel guilty for not spoiling my readers with lots of beautiful photos of traditional Indian clothing and jewelry. Being a female expat in India, I’m kind of expected to have at least a few fantastic outfits the local stores have an abundance of. How can one resist those vibrant colors, sophisticated embroidery and lovely designs? However, I’ll tell you one thing – after 7 years in India I still don’t have a single saree or anarkali, and my salwar kameezes can be counted on the fingers of one hand. As well as kurtas.  I am a lazy jeans-and-t-shirt type of girl , but it doesn’t mean I can’t admire beautiful traditional clothing on someone else,  and so there is a surprise for you at the end of this post:)

What do local women wear in India?

There are so many types of Indian ethnic wear that if I try to categorize them, it would be nothing more than merely scratching the surface. However, according to my observations, the most popular types of clothing for women in India include:

Saree (sari)

It’s a large seamless fabric draped around the body and worn with a tailored top and a petticoat. Originally the fabric was woven from silk or cotton, but these days a lot of synthetic materials are used as well. The style of draping depends on the region and personal preferences of a woman. To be honest, I think saree is designed to complement the body type of most Indian women, whereas lots of western ladies lack the inborn grace required for wearing this sort of attire. I am no exception – I wore saree for a quick photo session in a friends’ house, and it was enough for me to understand that saree and me simply don’t go together.

me in saree

Salwar kameez

Salwar kameez is a very comfortable set that consists of a salwar (loose pants, narrow at the ankles), kameez (a sort of long tunic), and dupatta (a broad scarf).  For me the biggest problem is the dupatta – it doesn’t hold in place and tends to fly away with the wind or to slip down all the time. It has million of uses though – dupatta can cover your head and shoulders from the sun, dust and unwanted attention, you can put in on a marble bench if it’s too cold to sit on, or you can even wipe your child’s runny nose if you happen to forget a handkerchief:)

me in salwar kameez 3 me in salwar kameez 2 me in salwar cameez

Lehenga Choli

This one is my absolute favorite, though I’ve never worn it even once. It consists of a lehenga – long embroidered and extremely ornamental skirt, a choli – a midriff-bearing top, and dupatta. Usually they tuck the dupatta into the skirt , wrap around the waist and drape over the shoulders.

 lehanga choli

[url=]Gwenz[/url]’s sketch


Anarkali is a sort of frock worn with slim fitted pants. The length of anarkali may vary. It comes in many different styles and colors, and heavily embroidered anarkali are often worn for different events and functions.


Anarkali from [url=]Gwenz[/url]


Kurta is just a long tunic that falls below the waist. It goes well with jeans and can be used as casual or office wear.  It’s also worn with salwar (loose pants narrowed at the ankles), churidar (skin tight pants) or leggings.


And here is the promised bonus – my beautiful neighbors are in Kerala at the moment, celebrating their cousin’s wedding and posting on FB all sorts of amazing outfits they wear for the function. With their permission, I’m sharing the photos here. Enjoy!

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