Whether you agree or not, the way you dress has a profound effect on how people around you respond to you. This is particularly true for female visitors to India. It is important to remember that you have to be very careful about what you wear while you are there. Most of the clothes that people can safely wear abroad are best not worn while in India due to both cultural and climate reasons. Here are some dressing tips.
- By the basic standards of modesty, women are required to cover their shoulders, upper arms, cleavage, midriff and knees. While it is okay for your back to be a little exposed while you are clad in a saree, it should be kept covered while wearing all other kinds of clothes. In some places such as places of worship, you will need to cover your head as well.
- Your inner wear should be covered by your outfit and should not show at all.
- The tops you wear should not be very tight or revealing. Keep aside your tank tops, blouses, shorts, strap dresses and sleeveless tops. If you are wearing pants with your tops, it is best to go for long tops that go down your buttocks.
- If you plan to bring a swimsuit, take care that it is a conservative one. A one-piece suit is better.
- Most Indian clothes are more comfortable than the western outfits especially during the hot summer months. In fact keeping your arms and legs fully covered by light cotton clothes can actually keep you cooler than wearing shorts and tank tops.
If you are new to Indian clothes, you can start with the salwar kameez. It comprises a long tunic worn over baggy pants. There is also the churidhar kameez – a long tunic worn over tight pants. A stole or duppatta completes the attire. If you are in South India, you can wear a blouse with a long ankle length skirt, and a scarf.
To attend any festival or wedding function you can wear one of the many richly decorated Indian sarees. If you have to attend business meetings in the country, you can wear conservative pant suits (that covers your crotch and buttocks). For sports activities, modest tops and long pants are the norm.
Indians like it when you wear their traditional dresses. While it definitely shows your admiration for their beautiful culture, it also acts as an ice-breaker and helps you initiate conversations with the Indians. The best way to know the clothes that would work well while you are in India is to look at what the women around you are wearing and follow suit.