What to wear in India is by far the topic I get asked about the most by my female readers. I have popular blog posts with tips on how to dress, where I buy most of my clothes, and key basics for boho chic style. However, after my trip up to Rajasthan, one of the best places to visit in India and home to a few stunning landmarks, I was getting so many messages and comments about my outfits – so I decided I’d show you ALL my outfits from Rajasthan, where I went to Udaipur, Jaipur, and Jodhpur, and link out to where you can buy them (easy because most are from the same place).
This will make packing for India so much easier for you – which is my ultimate goal! I want you guys to feel good, look good, be appropriate to the culture, and be comfortable so that you can just enjoy India.
I know that some blogs might say you should dress in Indian clothing like sarees and kurtas but I highly disagree with this. All of my Indian girlfriends laugh at this and say that they think it’s silly when foreigners do it as it looks like a costume – most young Indian girls I know dress in Western clothing anyway and I’ve never even seen them in a kurta.
It leads to the question of do I dress appropriately for India – and I am confident that I do. I dress no different than my Indian girlfriends who are my age. If you see an image of me with my shoulders showing it’s because I’ve taken my scarf off for an Instagram photo – I actually do stay covered up while walking around.
After five years here, I feel confident that in what I wear. I’ve written before about the advice I give that I don’t take myself, and one of those is wearing leggings in Indian airports which is kind of a no-no but I do it. The thing is, you will see Indian girls in their teens and twenties all in leggings at the airport. India is evolving and if I were an Indian girl living here, I’d also push the boundaries a bit. As a foreigner, I try not to too much, though!
Either way, the outfits I wore in Rajasthan are appropriate for India although some need a scarf over the shoulder and one skirt I wore just for an Instagram image but wouldn’t actually wear out!
When you are in luxury boutique and 5-star hotels you can wear bikinis at the pool and take pictures in cute outfits at the hotel. Also, while in Rajasthan almost every foreigner I saw was wearing tank tops so you might find you don’t want to add the scarf. Indians are way more open-minded than you think and aren’t going to freak out over a shoulder, although too much leg will get you far too much attention! Okay, onto the actual outfits.
PS: Did you see I wrote a book? It’s a massive guide to India with my 6 years worth of knowledge traveling here all wrapped up an organized into the best travel planner for India out there! Buy it here.
What to Wear in India | Exact Outfits and Where to Buy Them
1. Loose pink jumpsuit + white cover-up
I adore this jumpsuit because it’s very smooth lightweight cotton. It almost feels like silk. I also like the pants get wider after the knee (look at the image above) making a really nice shape. I wore a thin white cotton long-sleeve cover-up over it which worked out really well even in the nearly 100-degree heat. Both the jumpsuit and the top are a size small from Studio Tia. The platform shoes are very comfortable and I love to wear them in India as my feet are higher up and away from the dust and dirt of the ground, keeping me cleaner, plus they are cute and make an outfit look even better. I carry this big Etnika tote with me sometimes. It’s a great multipurpose bag because I have my camera and an extra lens, cell phone, wallet, and sunglasses in there. I usually carry a bottle of water with me as well, so it’s nice to have a big bag. I’ll link to the accessories at the bottom altogether.
2. Black plaid cotton bellbottoms + red tie-around blouse
Okay, so disclaimer: you should wear a regular tank top under the blouse! I wasn’t because Tia was shooting some images for her website so it’s showing too much stomach here. You can just wear a regular tank top to make this outfit okay or you can tie the top tighter to cover your belly completely. Showing stomach in India isn’t really that taboo because Indian outfits show belly, but it’s Western clothing which is different.
This is another loose breezy outfit. I love wearing fitted pants like this instead of just ali baba pants or something because 1) you don’t look like a typical tourist and won’t be treated like one and 2) I feel more comfortable dressing like I normally would. If you’re worried about the pants being tight, go up a size so they aren’t skin tight, I like them a little baggy. Indian girls wear skinny jeans, so it’s no problem to wear fitted pants.
3. Favorite striped cotton pants + black cotton baggy top
This top can be worn off-the-shoulder or you can tie it up and wear it covering your shoulders like the first picture (although it’s starting to come lose in that image and you can see my bra strap). The pants are slit just up to below the knee so they are totally okay to wear and let in a nice breeze. I love this outfit and actually had these pants copied into more material I bought while I was in Jaipur so I have a couple more pairs now. They are really loose at the waist and have a zipper then a drawstring you can pull them as tight as you want. They are high-waisted but you can wear them lower (just get a bigger size).
4. Blue jumpsuit + tank
This jumpsuit is ideal for travel. It’s loose, it covers your shoulders, and with a tank top under there is no cleavage visible even though it’s a low-cut top. This is great because if you go out partying in Jaipur or Mumbai (where local girls where club dresses) you can wear this without the tank top if you want to and have a going-out outfit. Trust me, my first night out in Mumbai 5 years ago I was wearing Chaco’s, Ali Baba pants, and a tee-shirt and felt like an idiot because girls were in little club dresses and heels! I carried the same Etnika tote with this outfit and I have these tan slides which are great. I only packed these tan slides, the same slides in black, and my tan platforms. Something to go with every outfit.
5. Jeans + wrap top + scarf
So the jeans are fine to wear – just recycled Levi’s with the wrap top is the same as the red top I linked above with the black pants. This material is more sturdy, though, and you’ll want to wear a tank top under it.
6. Casual jeans + tank + cotton cape
You guys, cotton capes for the win! I have this black one and a white one and they make traveling in style in conservative places so much easier.
While anywhere else, I would go out with just the jeans and tank top, here I can throw the cotton cape over it and tie it all the way up if you’d like or I have it a little loose here and you’re well-covered. I love this outfit! Layers are really key while traveling in India. These black shoes are the same as the tan slides I wore above with the blue jumpsuit/pantsuit.
7. Same black bell-bottoms as above + tank + plain black cape
I definitely do a lot of mixing and matching and these are the same pants as above and the same tank top as the one with the jeans above. I’ve just paired it with a sheer cape that is a little dressier than the cotton plaid one. It was great for nice dinners, shopping, and evenings in the cities.
8. Silk culottes + tank + blue wrap-around cape
I loved this outfit! It’s full coverage and basically, like wearing pajamas so I was comfy and didn’t have to worry about offending anyone with a knee or something silly. The pants are the first thing I bought from Tia’s new collection – they are high-waisted silk and really good quality; I have a feeling they will be my new favorite travel pants. I wore a tan tank which keep in mind I’m pretty flat chested so I can wear a little lower things but if you have big boobs and cleavage you can wear something a little higher neck than this. The blue cape is such a nice thing to throw over (and take photos spinning around in haha). It’s the same black shoes from the other photos.
9. Plaid pants + matching plaid wrap-around top
Wanna get all matchy-matchy!? These pants I already had worn with a bunch of different outfits, but I did have the matching top so wore it when I went to see the Bishnoi people. I don’t normally do matching stuff because it’s a little too organized for me, but I liked this outfit a lot! I also wanted to be more conservative here when seeing a local family (although he’s about to show me how to take opium but, I mean, let’s keep my shins covered, ha).
10. Black bell bottom pants + white tunic
Love, love, love this outfit! The black bell bottom pants (can you tell I’m into bell bottoms?) just go perfectly with everything. I love putting long tunics or even a cotton swimsuit coverup can sometimes work as a tunic with them. This top is a little sheer, but I had a full tank top under it so it’s no problem. This is an ideal outfit because it’s again full coverage, with a high neckline, but also quite cute!
11. Favorite striped pants + white wrap-around top
These are the same pants I wore with the white top (photo with the cow) and this top is the same white top I wore over the pink jumpsuit (and is the same as that red blouse and striped top I wore with the jeans and scarf, just another color). Again, you can wear a tank top under – we were headed out for the night to a trance party so I didn’t and it was totally fine for how people dressed in the evening but I’m kind of nonchalant about these things and if you’re nervous just wear a tank top instead underneath.
12. Yellow silk culottes + Striped bohemian tank
So this isn’t a nice styled photo like the one above but #12 and the next outfit (#13) are from my hardcore shopping days in Jaipur. I was not trying to look cute to be photographed for Instagram or anything but still liked this outfit. The yellow pants are silk culottes from FARA, a brand here in Goa and she makes them in a bunch of colors (be careful, they bleed in the wash the first time) and I cannot for the life of me remember the brand of this top – but it’s got fringe and coin charms in front which I love and it felt very Rajasthani.
13. Green silk wrap-around pants + cream tank
Okay, last outfit! Like I said, this was not a style thing, but just what I wore shopping. The green pants are a soft stone-washed silk and they wrap around. They are high-waisted. I have worn these in Morocco, Israel, Jordan, and all over India. They are my go-to. Because I’m sitting here they are pulled out but actually, they wrap really far on top so that no skin shows even when you are walking and sitting in a chair. The top is from American Eagle circa 2007 so probably not going to find that anywhere, haha!
Shop any of the items I linked below:
For More Packing + Style Posts
- Backpacking India List
- Best Travel Shoes
- Packing Items Worth Splurging On
- How to Use the KonMari Method to Pack
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