By Darren Griffiths

What to Wear When in India? Guide for Women and Men

29th January 2023

India, the 7th largest country in the world located in South Asia, is known worldwide for variety of tastes, colors, and smells. The land of sandy Goa beaches, ubiquitous temples, and the seventh wonder of the world, Taj Mahal.

Billion inhabitants, 300 million gods, thousands of Bollywood movies, and hundreds of dialects and languages – it’s India!

Most tourists visiting India are fascinated with this country at first sight. The untypical diversity of people, cultures, and landscapes make this destination one-of-a-kind. It comes as no surprise then that many people add India to their travel bucket list.

Are you going to India soon? You should get to know what types of clothes you need to pack in your luggage.

The clothes that you have in your wardrobe may be inappropriate for an Indian trip. Both in terms of climate and Indian culture. Even though India is a scorching destination, you should forget about short dresses, low-cut shirts, or your favorite jeans shorts.

Outfits that are commonly accepted in the western world can offend Indian people. To avoid making a faux pas keep on reading and find out what to pack for your trip to India!

Related reading – Travelling to India? Follow These Tips For A Great Experience

Do I need a visa to visit India?

Before searching your wardrobe for appropriate clothes, read about the obligatory travel document, e-Visa to India.

Nowadays, many foreign travelers can apply for this electronic travel permit instead of getting a regular embassy visa. The only effort you have to make is to fill the online application form, send the required supporting documents, and make an online payment. Your India e-Visa will be e-mailed to you within maximally 72 hours.

The price for the India e-Visa is 129 Euro, while citizens of Russia, Ukraine, the USA, Great Britain, and Mozambique need to pay 149 Euro. You can apply for one of three available e-Visa types: tourist, business, or medical. Submit your application online, within minutes from home, on!

Do’s and Don’ts regarding the way to dress in India


  • Basic modesty standards require women to cover their arms, knees, and neckline. You can choose maxi dresses – one piece of clothing, and to not have to bother with matching a shirt to a long skirt or trousers or the other way round.
  • The underwear should always be worn under clothing and cannot be noticeable.
  • Forget about wearing tight trousers and skirts. If you need to wear them, try to combine them with a loose-fitting and longer tunic or kimono covering your body.
  • Try to avoid all kinds of blouses and dresses on thin straps. Instead, you can choose short-sleeved shirts.
  • Going to the beach, try to wear a one-piece swimsuit to avoid the haunting eyes of the locals. Forget about sunbathing and swimming topless.
  • Make sure to look around you and check how the local women dress up, like covering different body areas with skirts, shorts, or saree. Observing is the best way to avoid making an outfit faux pas.
  • Some conservative and cult places must be entered with a covered head.
  • Do cover yourself with bright colors as India is all about colorful personalities. It makes you feel cheerful, and locals would love it. Anywhere else, women wear so many color variations and jewelry, while their hands and feet are decorated with henna tattoos.

Dispelling a few myths

Not everything that you may have heard about India is 100% true. The world created in Bollywood movies and fashion magazines doesn’t have to reflect reality.

  • Be aware that the weather is not always hot in India. It depends on what part of the country you’re visiting. You might need some warm layers too, so don’t forget to check out the weather forecast before you travel.
  • Covering your head in India isn’t a must unless you plan to visit Muslim or Sikh religious places.
  • Dressing in India is not only about traditional sarees or dresses. Many young girls and women, especially in Bombay, Delhi, and on university campuses, wear jeans and short tops. However, being a foreigner in India, it’s better to stay conservative not to attract attention.
  • You can wear whatever pants you like. There is no such requirement of wearing elephant pants in India. Loose pants are super comfortable and breathable and can protect you from a sunburn.
  • You can wear all sorts of jewelry in India but avoid wearing a diamond collection or your family jewels. The local markets offer unlimited choice and super low prices of traditional Indian jewelry. Moreover, it’s the best souvenir that you can take with you from India.

Other essential tips

  • Choose lighter fabrics and natural materials which will keep you cool and comfortable. Don’t forget that India is a hot country and you should wear breathable fabrics that at the same time will protect your skin from sunburning.
  • Make sure you carry your sunglasses while traveling to India as it will help you avoid the penetrating gazes of the people, plus it serves as protection from the UV rays.
  • Have your hands on a secure purse or handbag. Crossbody bags allow you to keep your belongings in the front, making it safe and secure while you wander on the crowded streets.
  • Scarves are another essential accessory that you must carry while traveling to India. Try draping it across the chest or keep it over your shoulders, wrap it over the head or place it like a dupatta similar to Indians.
  • Get hands-on tunic or shirts made from hemp, organic cotton, and bamboo so that you can stay comfortable.
  • Take one hoodie or fleece to keep you warm when exploring Northern India during the winter season.
  • It would be best to carry flip-flops or sandals, which are pretty useful when going to religious places or beaches. Moreover, grab a pair of covered pumps or canvas shoes when going for a walk.

What to Wear in India for Men

indian men

The general rule that all men should follow when visiting India is simply remembering about modesty, respectfulness, and comfort. Your clothes shouldn’t have any images that could be perceived as disrespectful towards the local people.

At the same time, your outfit needs to be comfy, as when exploring the Indian marvels, you probably won’t have time for dressing up.

Here are a few tips that will help you visit India and not stand out among the male part of Indian society. In comparison to women’s clothes guides, this list is relatively short and liberal. Nevertheless, it’s essential to know what is appropriate for men to wear while in India.

  • Avoid wearing shorts in cities or towns. Indians usually wear shorts only when going to the beach.
  • Avoid going topless unless you’re sunbathing or swimming.
  • There is no need to wear local clothes till the time you plan on visiting villages. You can wear shalwar kameez or Punjabi suits which are examples of traditional outfits.
  • You can wear a set of t-shirts/ shirts with chinos or jeans for attaining a smart look when attending a business meeting.
  • Try to choose natural fabrics, e.g., cotton or linen, that are breathable and help you stand the heat.
  • Pack light footwear, a pair of sandals, or slip-on sneakers!

Final Words

Women traveling to India can choose from a variety of clothes, making extraordinary colorful outfits.

It’s recommended, though, to follow the rule of modesty, and you may be sure that your clothes will not attract attention. Instead, the way you dress may be appreciated and admired by Indian women.

Pack the essentials recommended in this article and carry a light suitcase. Don’t forget that you can buy some exceptional clothes while in India! Men have an easier task since they simply need long loose trousers, a few t-shirts, and a pair of sandals.

Apply for your e-Visa to India, pack your luggage, and explore the country to the fullest!