Indian Clothing: What should I wear?

#1 Jun 9th, 2008, 11:05
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#1
Hi! I'd appreciate any advice I can get on this subject.

We're three Caucasian Americans, 2 men and 1 woman who want to "look" less like we are tourists. We have the bright idea that we should wear traditional clothes while in India for a week next month. At least it would make it easier to visit a mosque and she had a head cover. I admit, I know very little about clothing in India, but I tried my best to google my way to wisdom. From what I've gathered, the men could wear either Kurta-Pyajamas or a sherwani and the women could wear a salwar kurta. We will be going to Delhi, Agra, and Varanasi.

I'm worried that I'm going to do something wrong and make a huge cultural blunder. For example, I pick a black sherwani and everything thinks I'm going to a funeral all day, or I wear a red sherwani and everyone asks who died in the family or something. I have no idea if my age (27), the color, the cut, or anything about the clothing would have some special meaning. Should we avoid certain things or try to choose specific things? We just want to "blend in" and look as normal as we can in the traditional clothing. But we also don't want to look like we bought dumb ugly clothes that only a tourist would wear. I know men now a days tend to wear "western" clothes anyway, but at least in the movies I see that some mean still wear traditional clothes. The traditional close look cooler in both senses of the word.
Thanks for the advice! If this is in the wrong section please feel free to move it!
#2 Jun 9th, 2008, 11:10
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#2
If you go to advanced search (top right of the page, click search etc )on this site and search for

what to wear

and thread titles only, about 40 hits come up


Each thread also has similar threads under, well, 'Similar Threads' at the bottom of the page, including this one (which isn't too useful, do the advanced search)
#3 Jun 9th, 2008, 11:25
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#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by KrauseXian View Post Hi! I'd appreciate any advice I can get on this subject.

We're three Caucasian Americans, 2 men and 1 woman who want to "look" less like we are tourists. We have the bright idea that we should wear traditional clothes while in India for a week next month. At least it would make it easier to visit a mosque and she had a head cover. I admit, I know very little about clothing in India, but I tried my best to google my way to wisdom. From what I've gathered, the men could wear either Kurta-Pyajamas or a sherwani and the women could wear a salwar kurta. We will be going to Delhi, Agra, and Varanasi.

I'm worried that I'm going to do something wrong and make a huge cultural blunder. For example, I pick a black sherwani and everything thinks I'm going to a funeral all day, or I wear a red sherwani and everyone asks who died in the family or something. I have no idea if my age (27), the color, the cut, or anything about the clothing would have some special meaning. Should we avoid certain things or try to choose specific things? We just want to "blend in" and look as normal as we can in the traditional clothing. But we also don't want to look like we bought dumb ugly clothes that only a tourist would wear. I know men now a days tend to wear "western" clothes anyway, but at least in the movies I see that some mean still wear traditional clothes. The traditional close look cooler in both senses of the word.
Thanks for the advice! If this is in the wrong section please feel free to move it!
Frankly if you are caucasians - forget the idea that you will blend in - you just cant, colour of skin, hair and eyes will be dead give-aways. I am born and bought up in India but when I move out of Mumbai (western maharashtra) to South India and East India even I cant fully blend in - remember there is no one India. I appreciate that you are sensitive and dont want to offend the local populace - but I would say just relax. Few pointers:
1. Wear clothes so that your legs are covered when entering places of worship - so no shorts, avoid Spaghetti tops, sleeveless etc. Avoid very tight fitting clothes
2. In some temples they may not allow caucasians but these are far and few
3. Almost all places of worship irrespective of religion will require you to take your shoes and it may be a good idea to cover your head
4. For the males if they dress in Pyjama , kurta etc they are likley to really find themseleves out of place - most Indian men would be seen in shirts and trousers even in smaller towns.

Additionally there are a number of threads on IM which you can search on.
#4 Jun 9th, 2008, 12:24
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#4
Jeans/trousers , t-shirt/shirt - floaters/sneakers is what is most commonly found be it men or women...

Dont be heavy on the traditional bit...you will stand out!
#5 Jun 9th, 2008, 12:32
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#5
you anyhow will stand out because of your natural features, and if you try to do heavily traditional thing, then you would be a Perfect Standout..

Do traditional only when you are invited to Wedding or other ceremonies.
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#6 Jun 9th, 2008, 13:27
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#6
For Winter - Stick to western clothes like Jeans / Trousers / Jerseys ,as the places you wish to visit can be chilly.

For Summers - Indian clothes are more comfortable but would invite curiousity and more attention/staring than usual. However , I have seen plenty of women tourists wearing Salwar Kameez and looking very elegant. However, be careful in choosing Fabric and colors. I would recommend you blindly dropping by at any of the numerous FAB INDIA stores in Delhi(for both Ladies and menswear ) and picking up ethnic cottonwear which are available in fabulous earthy tones and contemporary cuts. Their clothes are less likely to attract attention.Go to their website www.fabindia.com and check out the various styles available and pick them up when you come to India.

Men - Go for short Kurtas which are in fashion nowadays amongst yougsters who find long length Kutas too cumbersome . These are Long sleeve or short Sleeve Kurtas of shirt length worn with trousers. Sherwanis are formalwear and are a strict no-no.

Women - They have a wider range of ethnicwear. Apart from Salwar Kameeze , Tunic Tops and Skirts are popular with girls and are equally Indian. Incidentally , most of the stuff being retailed by JC Penney , Walmart , Target are actually sourced from India and you can visit the export surplus garment market in Sarojini Nagar ( hundreds of makeshift stalls )to pick these up at a bargain for Rs 100/150 per piece.Most of them will be genuine stuff.
#7 Jun 9th, 2008, 13:54
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#7
Repeating: please go and look at the many, many threads already here on this subject. Make sure you look at the recent ones, though: things change fast and, especially in the cities, India is a lot less conservative than it was even two or three years ago.

If you dress local you will look like a tourist dressing local, especially the men, who mostly dress in Western style these days anyway. Some people will appreciate your effort, but you'll still look like tourists, especially as there is a group of you.

After some months in the same place, you would not project 'stranger' so much --- that takes time.

It is nice to want to dress respectfully when visiting temples or other religious buildings: you can find the information on how already on the site.

Peculiar Quirks Of Dress Code: if a male visitor dresses in local traditional dress, as I do, they may not be allowed in the bar of their 5-star hotel!
#8 Jun 9th, 2008, 14:03
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#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by KrauseXian View Post Hi! I'd appreciate any advice I can get on this subject.


I'm worried that I'm going to do something wrong and make a huge cultural blunder.

...the color, the cut, or anything about the clothing would have some special meaning. Should we avoid certain things or try to choose specific things? We just want to "blend in" and look as normal as we can in the traditional clothing. But we also don't want to look like we bought dumb ugly clothes that only a tourist would wear. I know men now a days tend to wear "western" clothes anyway, but at least in the movies I see that some mean still wear traditional clothes. The traditional close look cooler in both senses of the word.
Thanks for the advice! If this is in the wrong section please feel free to move it!
Wear simple shirt and trouser/jeans and for ladies salwar kurta is good idea.
But don't wear very bright/loud colors.
And if you really want to "blend in" , be calm, show respect and listen more
#9 Jun 9th, 2008, 16:16
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#9
with due respect to the OT - and crossmyheart i am saying the following in all seriousness...
'how to blend-in in china so you wont stand out' - hmm - that'd be one hellofa thread.


:brishti
[ fine i know i'm OT - but it is a valid query ]
#10 Jun 9th, 2008, 16:55
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by brishti View Post with due respect to the OT - and crossmyheart i am saying the following in all seriousness...
'how to blend-in in china so you wont stand out' - hmm - that'd be one hellofa thread.


:brishti
[ fine i know i'm OT - but it is a valid query ]
Keep bowing (bending forward) till your back hurts and you are not able to stand upright
Trust me you will really blend-in with the accent
#11 Jun 9th, 2008, 19:57
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#11
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Originally Posted by raj_s View Post But don't wear very bright/loud colors.

are you kidding?

in India?!?
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#12 Jun 9th, 2008, 20:00
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#12
Male clothing is usually in muted colours.
#13 Jun 9th, 2008, 20:02
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#13
You'd be surprised!


Quote:
Originally Posted by nayan View Post Male clothing is usually in muted colours.
#14 Jun 9th, 2008, 20:05
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by puchoo View Post You'd be surprised!

Ya.... have seen a few dazzling clothes on men..... but generally its much more muted than women's clothing.
#15 Jun 9th, 2008, 20:21
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#15
So, you mean that when I wear pink trousers, orange scarf and a red T-shirt, I STAND OUT? Even if the orange scarf looks like a dupatta? And with a matching red Bindi?

(Now I know why i got such funny looks, and I thought they were admiring my dress sense...)
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