When I go to any country, I try to always get the most authentic and culturally accurate experience from a country. From eating food with local chefs to haggling at markets, absorbing culture is key. Making this happen starts in my suitcase.
Dressing like a local is an important part of breaking down barriers with people and makes finding genuine interactions easier. While I can’t always completely blend in everywhere I go, I can at least let my garbs do the blending.
Packing for India was an absolute treat. India has a style all it’s own and if you’re looking to blend in
Here are my 6 tips for dressing like a local in India.
1. Leave your cotton everything at home
Trust me, when you are sitting in a rickshaw in 90 degrees (F) weather with 90% humidity you’ll thank me. India is hot and humid making heavy, sweat attracting cotton one of the least comfortable fabrics to wear. Stick to what the locals wear. If you have a sari laying around wear it. If your wardrobe isn’t as diverse, try linen pants, skirts, dresses, and shirts. Silk or chiffon are also great options for keeping cool and not looking like a sweaty tourist.
2. Color is your best-friend
India has a vibrate and colorful culture. You will routinely see women in bright red, orange, and blue saris. Do as the locals, pack those skirts you’re afraid are too loud or that bright pink shirt you’re too afraid to wear to work. You’ll fit in and make a statement all at the same time.
3. Think flowy
I cannot express this enough, most of India is hot as hell. Rendering your tight jeans and tops useless on all fronts. If you’re like me you probably started to think, what about shorts? India is a moderately conservative country. Walking around in short-shorts and a tank top is not exactly the best idea if the goal is to blend in. Instead, try long flowing skirts and dresses. You can be fully covered and comfortable.
4. Flip flops > almost everything
In all my time in India, I saw maybe 3 people in close-toed shoes. One was a businessman in a suit (my heart bleeds for his level of discomfort) and the others were a pair of tourist. Trade Nike for Gladiator. Flip flops or sandals are an Indian staple. It’s too hot for socks and sweaty toes anyway. Get a colorful pedicure and slip into your cutest sandals.
5. Make-up is optional
Okay, ladies, this one is just for you. While makeup is great when you’re home; in the Southern Indian heat, it’s hit or miss. Makeup was not possible with the temperature, it literally melted my foundation right off my face. (RIP Fenty) However, in the cooler climates of Northern India, my make-up stayed securely in place allowing me to slay photos at the Taj Mahal. I’m not saying leave it at home but proceed with caution.
6. When in doubt shop it out
When all else fails, buy anything you need. Bazaars are great for finding local fashion. Watch your belongings and haggle yourself into cute outfits.