What to Wear in India: An all-inclusive guide on what to wear, how to wear, and what shoes to wear with your outfits, in Incredible India. India is home to cultures, traditions, and people from across the globe. When we think of India, we think of bright colors, grand palaces, royalty, and warm smiles. We think of hot summers, the cold Himalayas, and the rains in the North-East. The landscape is extremely diverse – from mountain ranges to deserts, to numerous rivers and inland water bodies, to thick forests rich with fauna, to beaches and backwaters, even waterfalls, plains, and more – India is a seemingly perfect biosphere in itself.
India is also the land of the learned. Indian saints had mastered the fields of mathematics and astronomy when the Western World was only on the brink of civilization. With eighteen official languages, the country is an amalgamation of people from all walks of life, all proudly and unapologetically donning their own cultures and traditions, yet living together in harmony.
However, like any other developing country, the crimes against women in India are scarily high. Literacy rates are low, which trigger unemployment, which in turn set on a cycle of crime. It is a man’s world and India is no exception. So, here’s a comprehensive packing checklist and guide for women on what to wear in India and how to wear them to stay comfortable, fashionable, and safe.
How to Pack for your India Trip?
India has predominantly three seasons. Summer, monsoon, and winter. There are short spells of spring and autumn when the weather is exceptionally pleasant but these are usually short-lived in most parts and entirely absent in some. Before we dive into seasonal fashion, here are a few pointers on some items you’d need all year round!
- Scarves: We cannot stress this enough, please pack lots of scarves for your trip to India. Scarves are very versatile and will help you in more ways than you can imagine. Mostly light and breezy ones with a couple of warm shawls should do the trick.
- Comfortable Footwear: We’d urge you to pack your trainers and ergonomic walking shoes for long days full of sightseeing. Some colourful flats to wear with your ethnic outfits is also a good idea.
- Full-Sleeved Tops: For this trip, you may want to leave most of your camisoles at home. Carry full-sleeved cotton/rayon/linen breathable tops that protect your skin from the harsh sun and also keep you feeling fresh in any weather.
- Cotton Trousers: Avoid discomfort and hot flashes by ditching the denim and going for cotton trousers instead. Get them in neutrals or bold colours, just avoid the polyester mixes. Another good alternate to cotton trousers is to go for linen pants.
- Fanny Packs: Stay hands-free when walking around or traveling by public transport. Strap on a fanny pack around the waist or chest and you’re good to go.
- Jewelry: India is always a riot of colours! Wear your tassels, pom-poms, jhumkas and neckpieces – remember, extra is the new normal. In case your jewelry box is all minimal pendants and studs – don’t worry. We assure you that’ll change after a trip to an Indian local market. Happy travelling, happy shopping!
What To Wear on a Summer Trip to India?
Most of India experiences very harsh and hot summers. The summer months span from the end of March to the beginning of July. For a trip during these months, and especially to the interior plains, deserts, and Southern India we suggest you pack light, bright and breezy clothes. All Indian cities have great local markets for you to shop from at very affordable prices – so you can always shop and wear them there itself! This helps tourists really connect with the Indian masses and also embrace Indian textiles to their full potential. We’ve curated 5 Indian summer looks for you, scroll down below for some inspiration!
20 – Myriad Coloured Bottoms
If you really want to fit in Incredible India, you must stand out. Pair a plain white, full-sleeved top with a colorful, printed long skirt. Add a similar hued scarf and some comfortable flats and you’re good to go. For a long day of sightseeing, we’d suggest you replace the flats with sneakers. Oh and, don’t forget your camera bag!
19 – Kurtas – for the Indian Touch
Nothing is more comfortable than a cotton/linen kurta in an Indian summer. The strategic three-quarter sleeves protect the skin and the relaxed fit keeps you cool even in humid weather. The palazzos are also a clever choice for a hot day – keeps it airy and breezy. Blue and green is always a good combination to go with – tried and tested. You’re going to get a lot of appreciative smiles for this look, do smile back! Here are some of our favorite ways to style Kurtis With Palazzo Pants.
18 – What to Wear for Indian Temple Visits?
Have a day full of temple visits planned and you want to dress authentic and feel close to Indian culture? We got you. Open a YouTube tutorial and drape a cotton saree. Once you find your way around it, there’s really nothing more comfortable than 6 unstitched yards of linen. We’d advise you to pair it with a high boat neck blouse, but don’t go sleeveless. Else, a basic t-shirt works too. Add some converse shoes to make a fashion statement.
17 – Exploring a Quaint City
India has some quiet and quaint cities tucked away behind all its grandeur. Kodaikanal, Pondicherry, Auroville are some of these. These places are safe for women and tourist-friendly. When visiting these cities in the summer months, simply wear a pin-striped dress and layer with a white shirt. Put on some walking shoes, take a sling bag. Take your polaroid for aesthetic pictures of the road and colorful doors!
16 – Indian Ornaments and Traditions
Visiting one of the cities like Varanasi or Haridwar, known for its temples and religious impact? Here’s when the jewelry should come out. Wear a long, three-quarter-sleeved dress with leggings underneath. Let your accessories do the talking. Wear multiple silver bangles, some gaudy studs, a beaded fabric choker, and some rings. Add a gajra (flower garland) around your bun to seal the deal!
What to Wear When Traveling to India in Winters?
As per the rules of geography and science, the coastal regions of India experience a maritime climate. However, the interiors are often subject to extremes and temperatures can go down considerably on winter nights. In hilly regions, or in the Himalayas, it’s usually cold all year round. The cold has a charm of its own, and where it snows, it’s a Winter Wonderland. Here’s a guide on what to wear if you’re planning to visit the country during mid-November to early February, and/or states that are home to the Himalayas. Check out our top 5 Indian winter looks’ curation below!
15 – Winter Season = Wedding Season
The winter season is the popular wedding season in India. Traveling to the country for your cousin’s big fat Indian wedding? Take tips on how to slay in a lehenga, by staying just modest enough! Pair a golden blouse and lehenga with a contrasting, hot pink, elegant dupatta. Make sure the blouse has long sleeves, take care of the deep neck by adding a layered necklace, and complement the look with a pair of statement studs. An Indian wedding is usually a lot running around, so we’d suggest you ditch the heels and look to your trusted trainers. We’ve done a detailed post on What to Wear to an Indian Winter Wedding so do check it out.
14 – Mocknecks and Higher Selves
If you’re planning a trip to the Himachal for some much-needed peace and to connect with your higher self, we have just the right outfit for you. For starters, stuff your essentials (there shouldn’t be many) into a fanny pack. Put on baggy harem trousers and pair that with a fitted mock-neck sweater. Secure your hair back with a knitted headband that covers your ears as you sit by a stream and meditate.
13 – How to Dress for Winter Safaris in India?
Want to visit a sanctuary to witness the magnificent fauna of India? No better time to visit a forest than winter. The reptiles hibernate and the magnificent beasts come out in search of salt pits and make sighting easier. On safari mornings, you’d want to be fully covered – to protect you both from the cold and insects. Loud colors are a no-go, and muted neutrals are suggested. Wear khaki, sage green, or brown shades that make camouflaging easy. A jumpsuit like this one paired with combat boots, a hat, and sunglasses should do the trick.
12 – Puffer Jackets to Keep You Warm
Covering Leh-Ladakh as part of your road trip? Here’s what you need to wear! Pair your high-waisted straight-fit jeans with a black fitted sweater. On cold nights, add a thermal inner underneath. On top of the sweater, put on a sleeveless puffer jacket to lock in the warmth. A bandana to protect your hair from the dust, and a pair of combat boots to help navigate on rocky terrain. Replace the sling with a backpack and take in the beauty of mountainous horizons! Here are some of the best Outfits With Puffer Jackets that we’ve seen this year.
11 – Layering with Pashmina
What did we tell you about scarves? They’d help you in more ways than you know. There’s no winter wind some good layering can’t battle. Wear baggy, woolen trousers, with a slightly oversized black sweater. Layer with a warm and preferably colorful pashmina scarf or shawl. Cover up the fuzzy socks with high-crested boots and don’t forget the beanie to keep your ears covered!
India Travel Outfits for Monsoon/Spring/Autumn
As far as monsoons are concerned, it largely depends on the part of the country you’re in. The monsoons present themselves during the months of July-September in India. While they’re heavy and flood some parts on a daily during this time, others receive scattered showers. Our only fashion suggestion for this time of the year would be to dress smart. Replace the shoes and fancy sandals with rubber slippers. Always carry an umbrella. Don’t wear flowy dresses. Having said that, we urge you to get drenched in the rain every now and then. It’s a different kind of peace there.
During Spring and Autumn, the weather is beautiful and unusually pleasant. It’s not cold, not hot, and the humidity finally says goodbye for a while. The air is crisp and perfect for long strolls. Down below are a few outfit ideas for you to pack if you’re taking a trip to India in the months of February-March (Spring) or October-November (Autumn).
10 – Simple and Chic
Long dresses don’t get nearly enough credit as they deserve. Wear a solid blue long dress as is, but add a brown belt to provide a visual break. Pair it with white walking shoes and take a crossbody bag with it to store all the souvenirs you buy from the local shops! Perfect for a comfortable day spent eating Indian food and shopping – this outfit is as cute as it gets!
9 – Femme for Days
Spring and Autumn both are very high on feminine energy and we’re here for it! Visit a palace in a baby pink kurta set like this one and pair a set of traditional juttis with this to feel like the main character! Add some bangles, rings, and jhumkas – accessories that you’d definitely want to get your hands on if you’re a first-time visitor! Carry a tote bag with this one, and lots of water for the road! Gotta stay hydrated.
8 – “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking”
Yes, I know Miranda said that snarkily, but classics are evergreen. Wear a floral pink-on-white block printed kurta with a pair of white palazzos and pink embellished flats. Accessorize with statement earrings and a long neckpiece. Fuss-free outfits to take from night to day with ease – done, just like that.
7 – Nip in the Air
Reiterating what we said earlier, scarves are as versatile as it gets! Wrap it around to keep yourself warm for when there’s a slight nip in the air as autumn draws to a close and voila – that’s a whole look in itself. Underneath the wrap, a cream, beige or black top should be a good pick and you can go for a flared pair of blue jeans. Wear doc martens with this fit and sip on an India Special cutting chai at your local tea stall!
6 – Maximalist Layers
The world has always been fascinated by how India sustains its talented artisans via maximalism. If you’re on for fashion, this look was created for you. Perfect for early Spring and late Autumn OOTDs, when the sun isn’t that high up on the sky yet and a light jacket is comfortable – this look is all about layers. Pair your black leggings with a short white chikankari kurta. On top of that, wear a colorful embroidered jacket. Add a statement Afghani choker and a septum nose ring. Complete the look with a pair of high-heeled black boots. You’ll be turning heads for this fit, no questions asked.
What to Wear in the Metro Cities of India?
Contrary to the general conception, amidst parts of a still-developing India, some metro cities have emerged. These cities are liberal, sometimes safer, better lit, influenced by the West in terms of fashion, and with a very lively nightlife! Find fancy restaurants with cuisines ranging from Italian to Korean (and everything in between), nightclubs with ladies’ nights, and quaint cafés too! Here’s a curation of outfits you can wear on your night outs and day outs in the city, and even at your staycations in Goa.
5 – Alexa, play Red by Taylor Swift
For when visiting a city like Bangalore, Mumbai, or Kolkata – your distressed jeans can make a safe comeback. Pair your knee ripped jeans with a white, front-open shirt. Wear a bright red tee inside and take a red shoulder bag. Slip into a pair of red slippers and accessorize with a golden chain around your neck for brunch with your new Indian friends at a pretty café.
4 – The Vegas of India
Popularly known as the Vegas of India, Goa is the place to be if you’re a party animal. Populated with foreigners, tourists, and hippies – the youth scene of Goa is fascinating, to say the least. Bring out the bikinis, bodysuits, and bralettes – show off the tattoos and piercings fearlessly. The coastline state with over 35 beaches, is ideal for a staycation. Pair your olive green camisole with some cotton shorts as you explore them on your rented bike! Do check out our post on Stylish Indian Street style Fashion Ideas For Women.
3 – How to Dress like a Local in India?
In the metros, for casual day-outs and grocery runs, the masses are often spotted in plain neutral tones, blacks or whites. Taking inspiration from them, go for an all-white outfit and add hints of indigo with a shibori tie-dye tote bag and headscarf. Simple, without compromising on style!
2 – Holi-Date
Got yourself a meet-cute on your vacation and now you’re going on a date? We’d suggest you go for your trusty black jeans and a sheer kaftan top. Wear a black tube bra underneath and accessorize with statement studs. Your outfit is on point, we hope your date is too!
1 – Party All Night!
Ready for a full night of club-hopping in a metropolitan city, but still want to stay comfortable and dress modestly? We understood the assignment. Wear printed, colorful coordinates like this set. Keep the shirt unbuttoned and let your satin bralette peep if you’re feeling risqué. If not, you can always button it up. Accessorize with hoops that you just can’t go wrong with and uh, what are we still waiting for? Let’s hit some clubs!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What to Wear in India while Traveling in a Train in India?
A. When traveling by train or any other public transport in India, we’d suggest you wear relaxed fitted full-length trousers and cotton kurtas. These not only protect you from unwelcome stares, but also the sun, dust, and heat. Wear comfortable shoes to be on the safe side!
Q. What to Wear at Home in India?
Even when staying at a homestay or hostel in India, we’d advise you to wear modest pajama sets. Oversized t-shirts and full-length cotton pajama bottoms should keep you comfortable. If you’re staying at 5-star hotels where safety is guaranteed – go all out on those pair of shorts and camisoles. If you’re a fan of comfortable home-wear then do check out our detailed post on Girls Summer Home Wear.
Q. What shoes to wear in India when traveling?
I would say that you can wear any kind of shoes that you’re comfortable in. Instead of buying new shoes, go for the ones that you’re already comfortable in. In case you need a new one on your trip, there are a number of great local shops and international brands here in India from where you can get new shoes. I would highly recommend that you buy a jutti though, while it’s not exactly a very comfortable footwear but it is a shoe you must try and take home with you.
That was our take on how to dress in India, we hope it helped!
Sanandita is a fashion and travel enthusiast. She enjoys writing, curating, styling, and all things creative. Freelancing and interning while pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Technology, she likes to keep herself busy. Oscillating between mundane routines and adventurous getaways, she tends to surprise herself and the ones around her. This extrovert loves socializing, but every so often, she loves her own company, a little more.