What to wear in India: 15 Outfit Ideas for Solo Women Travellers
By far, this is my favourite topic to write on. I grew up in a very traditional household where I never overstepped my boundaries and focused on what was important at the time. Growing up, I realised how important it is to multitask and pull off everything great. Like there is no second alternative for it!
During my college days, I watched many DIY videos on wearing one outfit in five different ways. I am not emphasising dressing to look glamorous, but to dress for you. Wear what can bring most of your personality.
They say work like Roman when in Rome. I say dress like Indian when in India. So, why not make the change you want to see. If you wonder what to wear on your solo trip to India, read my blog to explore the best options out there!
This blog is for you if you are looking for dos and don’ts on clothing during your trip to India. When you take a trip once, it is vital to make the most of it!
If you will ask me, then India is conservative in rural areas, but a larger part of India has shifted its mindset to a modern lifestyle. The fashion icons and influencers are breaking stereotypes every day and setting new trends for comfortable travel.
1. Ditch your LBD and embrace six-meter long yarn
As LBD is a must in the West, similarly, Saree is a must in India. You will find it commonly worn by ladies across the country. It is a six-metre long yarn that you have to drape around the body. You can find it in different fabrics like cotton, silk, chiffon, etc. It comes in various intricate designs.
You can wear a saree while visiting Hindu temples across India. Many temples do not allow people in shorts, so it’s better to wear a six-year elegance.
2. Forget your miniskirts and tank tops for a while!
Fall in love with block prints and embroidered Kurtis. You can pair these with palazzo pants or jeans, and you are good to go anywhere. These tops and Kurtis are available in cotton fabric in bright colours, making them an ideal fit to be worn during summer. India is a comparatively conservative country. Wearing something too exposed will draw unwanted attention. It is a perfect outfit for a long day tour that involves souvenir-shopping in the local markets.
3. Blouse and a long skirt
You can never go wrong with this outfit while visiting the beautiful forts in India. It is one of the most breezy and carefree dresses that I love to wear. Especially while visiting the forts and monuments where the beam and tombs are high, wearing something with flair will add a nice touch to your pictures. Wearing a bright coloured blouse and skirt will make you pop in front of the white Taj Mahal and give you your desired Instagram picture! Read my guide, My Ultimate Solo Travel Guide to Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
You can purchase long skirts from Rajasthan as they come in beautiful designs like Rajasthani mirror and printed work. Trust me, you’d look drop-dead gorgeous in it! Read my guide 25 interesting things to do in Rajasthan | Solo Female Travel
4. Salwar and short Kurti
I think any girl can rock this style. All you need is a solid coloured salwar and any kurta in its contrast. They add a typical Indian touch to your personality, and you will feel comfortable while travelling too. It is ideal for wearing them while visiting any Indian household. Also, don’t forget to check out Airbnb Experiences for the best non-touristy activities when you’re travelling in India.
5. Palazzo and a crop top
You can buy this outfit from any mall or local street markets across India. Read my blog, How to bargain like a Local in India. I’d proudly say it is the best guide to know insights into haggling tricks and tips. They are a good combination to pull off an indo-western look. Just pair them with chic earrings and a handcrafted sling bag. You can also experiment with your style in several ways and style it with either a bright coloured scarf around your neck or oxidized metal bangles around your wrists. You’re good to go!
6. Capris with halter tops
It is time we bring our childhood capris back in style. Wear comfortable capris, and pair them up with a lacy or leather belt. You can also try rolling your scarf in the belt’s rings and tie a knot on the side, that is, if you got time for all this on your solo trip to India! Halter-tops are again my favourite to wear during summer. You can wear these while travelling in places like Goa, Pondicherry, and Mumbai.
They really do help you beat the heat along the shore. You’d also look classy with plenty of options to mix and match with your outfit.
7. Trek pants
Well, forget to pack everything but not trek pants. I remember during my trip to Himachal Pradesh, these were my only best friends. I had packed fancy stuff like pants, jeggings, and overcoats, and nothing came to the rescue but these trek pants. Even during the hike, they were super lightweight and flexible.
You got to buy one and pair them with cool hoodies. Ensure that trek pants have zipped pockets, as they are a MUST when you are doing any adventurous activity. Plus, it comes in handy when you want to carry your mobile phone, chapstick, and some chewing gums.
It is time to open your hair and let you lose yourself. Available in a variety of trendy options, a long dress never hurts! You can quickly transform your day dress into a cocktail party by just adjusting the straps and making a knot at the back. Throw some long feathery earrings, heels, and you are good to go for the night. I like how breezy and beautiful they look. You don’t have to be conscious of your body during your day trips to forts and monuments. We all know that India is one of the world’s highly populated countries, so it is always better to be on the safe side. It is also a life-saver for girls who do not like getting decked up.
Is your trip even complete if you do not wear a jumpsuit? I am a fan of bell sleeves full-length jumpsuits as I get to play with that look in multiple ways. Not to appear too clumsy, I carry a plain scarf to add some layers. You don’t have to wear lots of accessories, but wearing a statement necklace may complete the look. Carry a tote with it, and you are ready to set the stage on fire. Or, your day tours, to say the least!
10. Swimwear with a sarong
Finally, talking about it. I look for occasions where I can wear and experiment with beach dresses. It is only during that time when you can happily flaunt everything. Stick to earthy colours like peach, white, yellow instead of bright colours. Wear a long shrug, a sarong, or a scarf around your waist to give a more flowy look, and don’t forget to pack your sunglasses, flip-flops, a hat, and a casual bag for your sunny beach day.
Wearing beaded jewellery will give an extra edge and highlight your appearance. If you do not want to wear a bikini, you can wear denim shorts and a button-down shirt. Goa, Pondicherry, Chennai, and Mumbai are great places where you will feel comfortable wearing swimwear. You can find many tourists or even solo travellers from around the world in Goa. To know more about Goa, read my blog on, Is Goa a Safe Destination for Solo Women Travellers?
I will advise you to stick with knee-length dresses or shorts for your beach holiday in remote parts of India.
11. Kanchali Set
It is basically a ghagra-choli set popularly worn by women in Rajasthan. It looks really sexy when you wear it right. The skirt from the set is mid-length and has an amazing flair to it. I’d say it is a must-have dress in your wardrobe. You can also wear it back home during any traditional Indian festival like Diwali.
Also, if you are travelling solo in India during Diwali, check out my blog on exploring Diwali on your solo trip to India.
You can buy a kanchali set from Jodhpur, Jaipur, or Udaipur. Don’t forget to get tattooed with Mehendi (natural henna) on your hand and wear bold jewellery. You can also pair this beautiful set with ‘jutis’ or tasseled chappals. I know it will be challenging to experiment with this traditional attire and try new styles if you’re not a resident in India. Try getting help from a local female friend. The idea is to feel good about yourself, yet not trick with your personality.
Read my guide, My Ultimate Solo Female Travel Guide to Udaipur, India.
12. Cape kurta with Cigar pants
These are long kurtas with a slit in front. They look stylish and elevates your height. Cigar pants are pointed towards the end, giving your legs a slimmer look. Wear a bindi and a few bangles to complete this outfit. You can also ideally wear them when you are going out for brunch or dinner with your local friends. Carry a clutch instead of a bag as there is already too much cloth over the body. A nude coloured pair of heels will go well with this dress.
It is a multi-purpose dress as you can wear it over another dress like jeans top to make it look layered. You can wear a kaftan independently too and pair junk jewellery with it. Sneakers or loafers will go with the dress. You can also experiment with your hairstyle and try tying them in a French braid if you got long hair.
You can wear Kaftan to look effortless and also feel comfortable while using public transport in India.
14. Anarkali Suit
Wear this only when you are ready. As you travel across India, you will see the Anarkali suit at various shops. Buy them when you have the will to wear them. Otherwise, they will be just occupying space in your closet. They are worn so much by influencers, and going back to the old school is the new cool now!
Add a bindi and ‘jhumkas’ (traditional Indian earrings) to your look. These suits have good flair and help to make your torso area look longer and your waist slimmer. If you are likely to attend a party, wedding, or festival in India for an experience, wearing a suit will make you relate to the celebrations closely.
15. Long sleeve crop top with bell-bottom pants
It is always advisable to balance your look in fitting, length, colour, or pattern. Overdoing or wearing the same outline throughout makes you look over-the-top. I like to wear simple and undertone colours more. If you wear a bright crop top, then try to pair it with solid nude bell bottom. It also helps as the crop top is fitted and the bottom pants are loose. You’d look smart and classy at the same time!
A full sleeve crop top also saves you from scorching heat and tanning. A cute headband and hoop earrings will go well with it.
Other than this, you can always try to experiment more with accessories such a anklets, watches, tikkas, and waist pouches. Carry limited traditional clothes from your home as you can get them for affordable prices in India.
India is a diverse state, and people wear all kinds of modern and traditional clothes. I’d suggest you try new ideas and be open to embracing diversity. You never know when again we will be locked in the pandemic, and these pictures of fun-filled moments will be our only treasures to live by.
I give my big shout-out to all my fellow solo female travellers out there. It’s about time to rise and shine!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.