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What to Wear in India

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I have received a few emails about what to wear in certain countries around the world, and I usually give the same answer no matter what the country: wear whatever you feel comfortable in, provided you’re aware of and respect the local customs. When in doubt, it’s better to be a bit cautious, especially if you’re a first-time traveller or in a new country. In general, I look to the women around me and take clues from them as to what to wear. While I’m a feminist, and would love it if all women the world over could dress exactly as they wanted to, the reality is that you will probably feel more comfortable abiding to that culture’s norms.

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Lots of bright colours and patterns are the norm

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Wearing a dress made from an old sari – bought in Udaipur for approximately $10

Take Me Back

A post shared by Brenna Holeman (@thisbatteredsuitcase) on

Of the countries I’ve been to, I loved my Indian wardrobe the best. My biggest piece of advice, no matter where you go, is to shop locally. My dream is to one day arrive in a place like Thailand or India with a completely empty backpack and purchase all of my clothing there; not only is it usually much cheaper than clothes in Canada or the UK, but you’ll have a lot more fun with your fashion. I can’t remember ever spending more than ten dollars on an item, be that a bag, a dress, or a pair of shoes. That being said, it’s probably a lot more practical to have at least a few pieces with you when you arrive!

Here are a few of the things I wore while in India; of course, these are just my own recommendations, and your opinions may differ. Please note that this post has some affiliate links; as always, I only recommend products I use and love!

What to wear in India:

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1. Scarves. I believe scarves are the number one item for any travelling wardrobe, in pretty much any country. Not only are they incredibly easy to find, they can be used in so many ways. I ended up buying five or six different ones in Southeast Asia and India in a variety of colours and they were not only useful, but added that extra something to my outfits. In India, women almost always have their shoulders covered; I often wore a scarf around my shoulders, either tying it in front or securing it with a safety pin or knot. This meant I could still wear the t-shirts and tank tops I already had with me, but I was both dressed appropriately and still kept cool. They’re also super cheap – I never paid more than a few dollars for each.

Another suggestion might be to take a travel scarf with you – these scarves have zippered pockets so you can keep your money and travel documents safely around your neck at all times. Practical… and much cuter/easier than a money belt!

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What was once a potentially inappropriate outfit – a black tank top – is easily remedied by a scarf. The mirror selfie, on the other hand, is unforgivable.

Another thing you can do with a cheap scarf is to cut a hole in the middle, making it into a poncho-esque top (words I never expected to type on this blog, let alone recommend). I did this to a blue scarf I had, and was able to wear it as a top and as a scarf whenever I wanted.

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First a top…

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And then a scarf! Also that goat and I had exactly the same facial expression in every shot

Scarves are also very useful as head coverings, which are required for entry to some places. I’m never going to not look like a foreigner in many countries I go to – I have white skin, blonde curly hair, and blue eyes – but wearing a head scarf did make me feel like I was blending in at least a little bit better.

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One more reason to buy scarves… if you go for a thicker variety, which I ended up buying in Nepal, they can be used for warmth (not only as scarves, but as blankets or wraps).

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Definitely kept me warmer than my denim jacket

2. Long skirts. I am a huge fan of long skirts when I travel to hot countries. As most women in India cover their legs, I wanted to follow suit – I also find long skirts to be incredibly comfortable and surprisingly cool. I wore a longi I had bought in Myanmar; a longi is essentially a long piece of fabric that you wrap around you and then tie at the waist, and I was able to recreate this with a sarong I bought in Thailand. Be inventive with your wardrobe, especially if you’re travelling for a long time with the same clothes. You can always wear leggings under your skirts for extra coverage and/or warmth.

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Wearing a Burmese longi

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A sarong converted into a long skirt

3. Cotton blouses. It may seem counter-intuitive to wear white when travelling, but I found white cotton blouses to be the easiest things to wear in India. Not only do they keep you a lot cooler than a black or dark-coloured top, they are easy to wash and dry really quickly. I had two or three on rotation for my entire time there. Many tourists also buy kurtas, or long blouses, to wear over their t-shirts. I bought a really light cardigan to wear over tank tops, which also works.

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A cardigan bought in Pushkar allowed me to still wear my tank tops from Thailand

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If you’re going to attend Holi, be warned that everything you wear will be ruined. I personally think this shirt got infinitely better.

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Or… just screw all this advice and buy the most hideous shirt you can find

4. Genie pants. Genie pants, or harem pants, are everywhere in Southeast Asia and the Subcontinent, so you’ll always be able to find a pair in a colour or pattern you like. I almost never wear trousers, but I found these to be amazingly comfortable and really fun to wear. Still trying to figure out how to wear them in London…

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These wardrobe tips also apply to other parts of Asia, including Nepal!

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5. Saris. I mean, when in India, right? Saris are incredibly cheap in India (I paid approximately ten dollars for each, but be warned that you get what you pay for), and they are so much fun to wear. I felt absolutely beautiful whenever I put one on. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube on how to tie one, but after I was shown once by a local woman it was fairly easy to do.

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6. Leggings. I have to admit that I hate leggings, and I never wear them in London. While travelling, however, they can be great to wear under short skirts for coverage or under genie pants for warmth. I brought along a black pair from Canada and they were invaluable during my travels around Asia and South America. I often committed the fashion horror of all fashion horrors and wore leggings under jean shorts whenever I’d go hiking or do more adventure-based activities. True hikers and adventurers might scoff at me (and fashionistas may laugh at me) but that combination always did the trick.

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7. Shoes. Well yeah, obviously you are going to wear shoes, unless you’re that girl I met who didn’t wear shoes for three months in India (I don’t mean to judge, but that just seems a bit… gross). But alongside my usual trainers and flip flops, I decided to buy leather sandals and slip-ons from around India. Again, they are really comfortable, and they looked so much cooler than my imitation Havaianas from Khao San Road. Make sure to have at least one sturdy pair of closed-toe shoes for journeys on public transportation, especially trains – those bathrooms can be a tad bit dirty, to say the least (hell, even train bathrooms in England give me the creeps). I’d also recommend bringing at least one pair of reliable walking/hiking shoes you feel comfortable in. I personally always bring Keds when I travel, as I find them both comfortable and fashionable. They also last a long time – I had the pair in these photos for a good three years through 25+ countries – so they’re a great investment.

I now swear by Naot sandals when I travel; they’re super comfortable to walk all day in. As it’s nearly impossibly to find sandals that are both cute and comfortable, I really wish that I had had these when I went to India the first time.

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It also helps if you have a predilection for shoes like these

8. Jewellery. I have often read that travellers should not wear jewellery. Anyone who has ever met me knows that I simply do not abide by that rule, nor do I believe in it. I wore enough jewellery in India to become every airport security staff’s nightmare on a daily basis. The key is to wear local jewellery – I would never go out dripping in diamonds and gold (mainly because I can’t afford any of it, but also because I don’t like it as much). Wearing jewellery from the place you’re in is not only fun, but collecting these pieces is a great way to bring home cheap and easy-to-carry (as in, wear it all so that you don’t have to pack any of it) souvenirs.

While I have long heard rumours of jewellery attracting too much attention, I believe that most thieves are a lot smarter than we may think. They’re probably not going to go after your cheap bangles. They’ll be after your smart phone, camera, passport, laptop, tablet, credit cards, and cash (joking… but not really). Here’s the thing: wearing cheap jewellery doesn’t make you look like you have money. Simply being a foreigner does. The simple fact is, if you’re travelling in India, you have money. Wearing a few rings from the local market isn’t going to make you look any richer than you already do. Even though I regularly look like Mr. T, I have never had any jewellery stolen from me in any country.

And here’s where, of course, I reject my own theory: beware of kids rushing up to you in groups. I was swarmed a few times in India and the first thing I did was grab my bag and lift my arms up to my chest. I hate to sound so paranoid and/or like I hate children (only one of those statements is vaguely true), but this is a common technique for pickpocketing. I have also had children try to take off my bracelets while doing this – who knows if they were actually trying to steal them, but I didn’t particularly feel like finding out. More often than not the kids just want to chat and play, but it’s better to get a feel for the situation first.

At the end of the day, when travelling in any country, I try not to bring any jewellery that I would be devastated to lose. Also, one last tip, because it’s worth saying here: of all the items of jewellery I’ve heard of going missing or being stolen while on the road, the worst offender seems to be long-chained necklaces of silver or gold. They are easily ripped off. So yeah, just go to the local market and buy some beads, okay? Everyone wins.

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And why not try out henna?

Another tip – wear your local jewellery and clothing when you go to the markets. Wearing these things establishes that you have already bought some, and you know the deal. Whenever I haggled with someone for a new bracelet or scarf, I could simply point to whatever I was wearing and say, “But I only paid X for this one.” It worked every time.

Belts and bags are also really great things to buy – I always went for really colourful and sparkly ones, because my fashion choices haven’t changed since my mum found me in her closet at two years old, draping all of her brightest clothing and sparkliest jewellery on myself.

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Indian earrings

9. Makeup. You’ve probably noticed that I’m wearing makeup in these photos. It’s absolutely fine to wear makeup when travelling – if you wear makeup at home, why not wear it abroad? As India can get quite warm, it’s best to avoid heavy makeup on your face (such as a heavy foundation). I personally wore concealer, powder, bronzer, eyeliner, and mascara every day, and my go-to eyeliner was actually kohl that I bought in local Indian markets.

My very best makeup tip? Use an eyeshadow primer, even for eyeliner. I hate to say this stuff changed my life, but as someone who wears black eyeliner every single day… this stuff changed my life. I can put on my eyeliner in the morning and it won’t budge all day. My favourite eyeshadow primer is this one by Urban Decay – one tube tends to last me a year, so it’s a great purchase.

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At the end of the day, only you will know what you feel most comfortable in. What I found was, by dressing in the local clothing and jewellery, I felt both physically and mentally comfortable. I did draw attention to myself… but so did the other people I was travelling with, and they were wearing jeans and t-shirts. In my month in India I only received positive responses from Indian people regarding the way I was dressed. Many women came up to talk to me, or vendors in the market would compliment my style. I believe that dressing in the local fashion shows appreciation and respect for the culture and its people.

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Another shot from Nepal; note the long skirt, white blouse, scarf, colourful bag, oodles of jewellery, and ridiculous grin

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What to wear in India

Have you been to India? What does your wardrobe consist of when you travel?

If you’re interested, here’s another article I wrote about feeling fashionable while travelling. Additionally, you can check out what to wear in Thailand, what to wear in Nepal, what to wear in Bhutan, what to wear in Russiawhat to wear in Cuba, and what to wear in Colombia

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146 Responses to What to Wear in India

  1. Expatkerri December 16, 2014 at 4:04 am #

    If I could just wear all your clothes, that would be great. You look AMAZING in all these shots, and it’s very very inspiring! I love the blue scarf as a shawl. And where do you suggest buying the soft white blouses from? I don’t have any and need to invest!

    • Brenna Holeman December 16, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      You are too kind Kerrilyn. H&M, Old Navy, Primark, and Forever 21 all have fairly good ones… and they’re cheap enough so you won’t feel bad if they get ruined!

      • Aude June 29, 2015 at 8:04 pm #

        I would feel rather bad wearing primark clothes, knowing they have been made in poor conditions, by children, etc.. In the exact same countries that you are traveling to. Instead, I would advise buying a handmade shirt in India, they are very reasonably priced, much better quality and at least you can buy it straight from the people who made it. Apart from that, it will make a great souvenir!

        • Brenna Holeman June 29, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

          Fair enough – if you see in the article, that’s what I recommended to do!

    • Joanna Brown August 31, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

      Hi I am travelling to Dehli on Sunday and then Bhutan can you recommend where to buy some white shirts, harem pants and scarves in Dehli when I arrive so I can recreate your wardrobe which looks fantastic and very stylish as well as practical?

      • Brenna Holeman August 31, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

        I’d recommend asking your hotel/hostel where the local markets are on that day and checking them out! I also found some cool shops and markets in the Karol Bagh area. Have fun!

  2. Jennie December 16, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    Lovely post 🙂 I practically live in harem pants when I’m in South East Asia, they’re the comfiest thing ever. A few too many of my outfits do revolve around leggings though i’m ashamed to say, and I do find myself washing and wearing the same outfit over and over again. My travelling photos lack a little variation! Defiantly going to take some inspiration from your long skirts and scarfs and try and mix things up a little bit.

    Jennie x

    • Brenna Holeman December 16, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      That’s awesome, thanks for letting me know Jennie!

  3. Scarlett December 16, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I love your blog so much, Brenna! I’ve been reading it for months but this is the first time I’ve commented (that sounds a little creepy now that I write it…?!)

    You write so beautifully and all your photos are so great, I’ve done quite a bit of travelling since leaving high school, I’ve had to settle for a little while at the moment for uni but your writing is such an inspiration and reminds me of everything I love about travelling, and now I’m working to save up for a trip next summer. So thank you for the inspiration!

    I love this post as well, your fashion sense is so amazing, and I totally agree about blending in, I always try to as well (even though I am firmly of the belief that every woman should be free to wear whatever they like), I just find it less hassle sometimes, especially in countries like Morocco and Nepal I found covering up/blending in did sometimes help to deflect unwanted attention. I love how you combine locally bought clothes with everyday items, it always works so well and I love all your Indian outfits.

    Anyway sorry for slightly long/fangirl-y type post, I just wanted to show my appreciation!

    • Brenna Holeman December 16, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

      Aw, what an amazing comment! Thank you for putting a big smile on my face, you are too kind. I agree that it is often less hassle to try to wear local clothes and blend in… and I always find that much more fun!

      I hope you get to travel again soon and thanks again for your lovely words. Don’t be shy to comment from now on!

  4. Ashley December 16, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    I loved this post, Brenna! Thanks for the tips- especially the idea to cut a hole in scarves to use a top- I will definitely try it! Reading this made me so excited for my trip to India next year! I can’t wait to shop there, even though I’m sure it will be fairly overwhelming and I’m the world’s worst haggler. PS you look great in all these photos and you make all these random articles of clothing and accessories look effortlessly stylish.

    • Brenna Holeman December 16, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

      Oh wow – I’m sure you’re going to love it! Don’t worry, haggling is the kind of thing you learn to do quickly. I always make a few mistakes at first in a new country, but you’ll soon learn what’s a fair price.

      Thank you so much for your nice comment!

  5. Elina December 16, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    You look absolutely lovely in these photos! What a great post too, I am planning a trip to India next summer and this is going to be very helpful. One thing I wonder though, how do you manage to keep your hair that amazing throughout your travels? Mine always seems to get all frizzy and messy and tangly in all the worse ways.

    • Brenna Holeman December 17, 2014 at 1:33 am #

      Thanks, Elina! Whenever I travel to warm locations I have the same hair routine: wash with shampoo and conditioner, add a bit of serum to wet hair, and then air dry. It also helps to scrunch your hair with your hands as it dries. I suppose I’m quite lucky – my hair dried naturally in all of these photos – but in recent years I bought a small straightener that works on wet hair to help smooth frizz. They’re quite cheap, so I recommend buying one!

  6. Camille December 17, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    You always look great while traveling! I couldn’t pull off half the things you do, but I live in scarves no matter where I am.

    • Brenna Holeman December 17, 2014 at 1:34 am #

      Aw, thank you so much! I’m sure you look great, too. Scarves are such an amazing thing to have while travelling…

  7. Laura December 17, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    I love your travel fashion ideas. I never feel brave enough, but I’m going to try to be on my trip to South East Asia next year – I’m packing super light and will buy most things along the way.

    • Brenna Holeman December 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

      I really think that’s the way to go! Clothes are so much cheaper there, and a lot of fun to both shop for and wear.

  8. jessica wray December 17, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    That scarf hole idea is genius! I also one day would love to travel somewhere with nothing and just buy all my clothes there. It would be so fun! These outfits are all so fun and colorful, you look great!

    • Brenna Holeman January 1, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

      Thank you so much, Jessica!

  9. Alisa December 17, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    I love your fashion style! You always look so classy and pretty. I’d love to dress more like you do (sadly it’s mostly jeans and sweaters here). Maybe I’ll try out some of your tips during my trip to Southeast Asia in three days. 🙂
    I also really want harem pants now, they’re so cute.

    • Brenna Holeman December 18, 2014 at 12:27 am #

      Thank you so much, Alisa! That’s really nice of you to say. I definitely think you should try out some of the fun fashion in Southeast Asia… harem pants are the best. Have fun!

  10. Naomi December 18, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Oh, my friend. It feels weird to leave a comment that begins with a story about the reader but oh well, here goes: recently I was having a bit of a crisis wondering if I should really head to the Subcontinent for a few months, or if I should just hurry up and go back home to Melbourne, which I am so desperately missing. So, in exasperation, I asked the universe for a sign. And just a few hours later, what I do encounter but this entry at the top of my blogroll – and upon seeing your photographs and just how beautiful, colourful and imaginative travel can be, such a crazy feeling of wanderlust and inspiration welled up in me that I thought, ‘India! YES, YES!’ So cheers to you, for being a constant inspiration! And, like, both an intrepid traveller & total fashionista 😉 Can’t wait to see what outfits you post from the next destination! xx

    • Brenna Holeman December 18, 2014 at 11:54 am #

      Oh my Goddddddddd that is the best comment ever. I am SO happy you are going to India! I know with 100% certainty that you are going to absolutely love it and find it to be such a rewarding experience. Just promise me you will take lots of photos and write lots of beautiful words about it, as I know you can. I hope we run into each other again in this big old world very soon. xxx

  11. Katie @ The World on my Necklace December 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    I could never bring myself to wear harem pants (we call them poo pants because it looks like the person wearing them is wearing a full nappy) but I love all of your other clothing tips. Will definitely keep in mind for when I get to India 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman December 19, 2014 at 1:35 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Katie! I disagree, though – I love harem pants and I think it’s easy to make them look very stylish!

  12. Sheherazade Draw December 19, 2014 at 4:16 am #

    lovely lovely post! I would wear everything in it! no one beats you in travel fashion!

    • Brenna Holeman December 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

      Aw, thank you so much!

  13. Zalie December 19, 2014 at 6:02 am #

    Ummm… you looked AMAZING travelling around India ( and of course you still do)!! These are really great tips, I really need to invest in some white cotton shirts!! I seriously laughed so hard at you looking like Mr. T( I pity the fool) and being every airport security staff’s worse nightmare because of your jewellery hahah! I don’t put on my jewellery until after I pass through security but I always have it in my carry-on and they ALWAYS have to pull it out and examine it…I don’t know which is worse. xoxo

    • Brenna Holeman December 21, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

      Ughhhh yes I think we both suffer from the perils of wearing/having too much jewellery when we travel. Thank you for your nice comment sister!

  14. Hayley @Lovepuffin December 22, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    I simply cannot WAIT to try some of these out in February, Brenna! You always look fantastic though, even if you were wearing a bin bag! 🙂 x

    • Brenna Holeman December 23, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

      Aw, thank you so much Hayley! You are going to have such an amazing time…

  15. Jodie Young December 29, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

    You look amazing in all of these outfits, I wish I could pull them off like you do. Scarves and genie pants are two items I always pack for travelling in warm weather.

    • Brenna Holeman December 29, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

      Aw, thanks Jodie! I’m sure you look great, too.

  16. Katie January 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

    I am leaving for India tomorrow and am struggling to pack clothes. I loved all the photos, and I found this post really invaluable. The clothes there are so beautiful! I can’t wait!

    • Brenna Holeman January 7, 2015 at 1:21 am #

      Oh that’s awesome! You’re going to have an amazing time…

  17. Renate @ Renate's Travels January 20, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    Wow, I seriously love your style! I’m totally longing to go back to India now just so I can try to look as good and colorful as you do in these photos, no joke!

    I also try to blend in a little with the local clothing customs when I travel, but it always just looks “half way”, haha. I normaly don’t have much room to bring much stuff home with me, but I always find room for bracelets and scarves (and sometimes interior stuff from places like India and Morocco).

    • Brenna Holeman January 21, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

      Thank you so much, Renate! I’m sure you look fabulous. Bracelets and scarves are always amazing souvenirs, I find…

  18. angelnx January 22, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    I love indian wear, Beacause women almost always have their shoulders covered n i like your sarees ,dresses, salwar kamiez,

  19. Lee B January 25, 2015 at 8:31 pm #


    If I could look half as chic as you when I go to India, I’ll be lucky! I was researching for something else today, but at the top of my ‘to do list’ today was to figure out what I should take/wear in India in March when I go for almost a month. And suddenly I find your website and this article pop up… good karma! You certainly do have style, and even with your blonde curls and mesmerizing blue eyes, you fit in better than any of the other travelers in your pics!

    I too don’t wear t-shirts or shorts or jeans normally. When I first started traveling was when I was still working full time, I always tried to look nice, because for work I had to wear a man’s uniform. Even now when I travel, I receive so many compliments, from both other tourists and the locals… and I really believe I get treated a little differently because of the way I dress. I try to blend in too, as much as possible, but I have yet to travel to Asia, so that’s going to be a new experience for me.

    I have made lots of notes from your helpful article, but still have questions… when you were traveling in India, where did you buy these items? at a store, or just at markets? And, in only larger towns, or anywhere? I may try to email you, as I have other questions you may be able to answer for me, but for now, I am your newest fan…

    thank you!

    • Brenna Holeman January 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

      Hi Lee, thanks very much for your comment! To answer your questions: yes, I bought the items almost exclusively at markets. There are tons of them around, especially in smaller cities (in my experience, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Udaipur, and Varanasi were the best for shopping). The big cities usually don’t have the smaller, more traditional markets, at least what I could see… but I could be completely wrong!

      Have an amazing time in Asia, although I’m sure you will! Thanks again for your comment…

  20. Manali Parashari February 2, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Hello Brenna…it is such a nice blog and your posts are just awesome…..keep it up!!!!!!

    • Brenna Holeman February 2, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

      Thank you!

  21. Sourav February 9, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    It is nice to see avid travelers like you in traditional Indian outfits! This visual story speaks of your love for Indian ethnic fashion which you have gracefully flaunted. If you have every happen to visit Gujarat, a n Indian state in Thar desert, do make sure to try colorful outfits there. The textile handicraft of Gujarat is exported to different parts of the world.

    • Brenna Holeman February 10, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

      Thank you for your comment! 🙂

  22. Rebecca March 4, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

    I cannot wait to get to India! I just found your travel blog and it’s FULL of awesome inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing! The winter here in Canada won’t quit so I hope you don’t miss it too much.

    • Brenna Holeman March 5, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

      Thank you, Rebecca! That’s so nice to hear. I hope you’ll keep reading 🙂 And yes, I’m fine with my mild London winter… it’ll be 16 this weekend!

  23. Andrea March 29, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    I will go going to India in August and was wondering whether you would recommend a backpack or rolling suitcase? We will be do some traveling around the country (on train, buses, etc).


    • Brenna Holeman March 30, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

      I often find backpacks easier but it really depends on what you’re used to and how much you’re bringing. Small suitcases can definitely be just as easy…

  24. neha verma April 3, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    Hello Brenna What a nice blog that gives nice information of different places of India and the dresses that are Wear in India. Really nice. thanks keep it up.

  25. Ivy April 11, 2015 at 5:43 am #

    Brenna, finding your blog has been a god-send! I am going to be spending my freshman year of college in India and am so excited/nervous/overwhelmed/clueless about what is to come! After a little research I found out how modest casual Indian fashion is and I was a little worried about how to pull it off. But, this blog post in particular has helped me so much! It has inspired me because you look so cute in all of your outfits! I think I will love the fashion in India, I can wear all the colors, patterns, jewelry and scarves that I want. 🙂 The colorful country seems perfect.
    Anyways I have a question!

    Do you think I should buy a lot of my clothes when I arrive in India? or should I bring the majority of my clothes?

    Also, what are your favorite travel bags? From what I gathered, you bought your purses in India. However the only thing that worries me a little is safety!
    Did you have any worries about your bag being stolen or pick pocketed?

    Sorry for so many questions! I really hope that you see this & have time to reply! 🙂

    Thank you so much girl


  26. Gowthami June 2, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    Beautiful post…. you look pretty in all these outfits!! great pics:)

    • Brenna Holeman June 2, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

      Thank you very much!

  27. Charlie June 19, 2015 at 11:14 am #

    I never leave comments on blogs, but I just wanted to let you know how inspiring I’ve just found this article – you manage to look completely immersed in the culture without looking like you’re trying to hard! Your outfits and photos are ace! Thanks x

    • Brenna Holeman June 19, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

      Aw, thank you very much, Charlie! That is really nice of you to say.

  28. Laura June 24, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    Thank you so much for the inspiration! I’m headed to Chennai this week to work on low-cost healthcare solutions/ designs, and this blog was a huge relief for me.

    Modesty (especially since I’ll be in rural areas as well) was a concern for me, and your tips are so helpful! Let’s just say you’ve convinced me to bring my suitcase half- empty and leave with it full of stuff I find there!

    Your photos are also very beautiful – were these taken on a DSLR or just a phone?

  29. Jamie July 12, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    I am traveling to India by myself in the fall and this article has been the most helpful one I’ve read yet! Thank you so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge, I cannot wait to put it to use! One thing I’d add to your list are Elephant Pants because they are so comfortable and cute!

    Thanks again!

    • Brenna Holeman July 12, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

      Have fun in India, Jamie! Thanks for the comment.

      • Dipika July 16, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

        Interesting blog…..U should visit northeastern part of India…

  30. juxnz August 20, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

    Great advice and love your mix of east/west fashions.
    May I add something?
    It pays to remember India borders the Himalayas and it can be surprisingly cold during the winter months (November to February) in the northern territories, including Rajasthan. If you’re travelling then, make sure to pack some warm clothing as well to layer on and off. It can be pretty chilly tearing around the streets of Delhi in a open-sided tuk-tuk, and picture standing on a frigid platform for hours, early in the morning, waiting for a train or bus (which are rarely on time). Brrrrr!
    I’m returning to southern India later this year and the one thing I’m determined to find (you’ll laugh) are some of those pom-pom things you see on nearly every truck/bus/tuk-tuk etc, to decorate my car back home!

    • Brenna Holeman August 20, 2015 at 11:58 pm #

      Yes, good call! I briefly mention that I needed to wrap a wool scarf around me for warmth but you’re right, it can get very chilly in parts of India.

      Have an amazing time! I love those pom-poms. 🙂

  31. Steph September 7, 2015 at 8:31 am #

    Oh, these are stunning… India is under two weeks away for me now and getting more and more real by the minute… Gorgeous photos – I’m determined to pack light with mostly t-shirts and buttonups, then buy skirts/scarves/pretty things when I’m there. Normally I stick to “safe” jeans and an inconspicuous t-shirt, so I’ll be using the trip to expand my style comfort zone for sure! Thanks for the wonderful tips xxx

    • Brenna Holeman September 7, 2015 at 10:29 am #

      Oh great, that sounds wonderful! I’m glad that you found the article helpful. Have an amazing time!

  32. Amanda September 21, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    So excited to find this post. You look stunning. I’m off to India soon and am confused about what to pack – I so don’t want to take cargo pants! I love that you combined the structure of the button down shirts with the flowy skirts, and broke it up with a belt. Did you find you needed closed in shoes a lot? I’ll be taking a sleeper train and am sure I’ll need more than sandals for the bathroom facilities there:/ Did you wear leggings under long skirts? Thanks for this inspiring post. So in love with all of these colours.

    • Brenna Holeman September 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

      Hi Amanda, thanks for your comment and I’m glad you found the post useful! How exciting that you’ll be in India soon. I would definitely take closed-toed shoes and yes, be prepared to wear them on the trains. I did wear leggings under my skirts when it was a bit cooler (i.e. in the early mornings or at night) and it’s always nice to have the extra coverage.

      Have a great time!

  33. Lori Dominick September 25, 2015 at 3:42 am #

    Thank you so much for this blog! I am leaving for India next week – and I’ve been stressing out about what to wear! I don’t have time to do a lot of shopping before the trip – this has been VERY helpful!

    • Brenna Holeman September 25, 2015 at 10:59 am #

      Oh, that’s so great! Thank you for letting me know… and have a fantastic time. 🙂

  34. Brenna Weaver October 19, 2015 at 11:55 am #


    Thanks for such an informative article. I’m off to India in 3 weeks and can’t tell you how much you’ve helped with packing preparations. It’s so great to get decent information (not to mention absolutely beautiful photographic examples) from someone who has first hand experience.

    Off to shop! Xxx

    • Brenna Holeman October 20, 2015 at 11:51 am #

      Oh that’s great, thank you so much for letting me know Brenna! Great name, too 😉

  35. Zoe November 2, 2015 at 2:51 am #

    Hi, fab post I love you’re look in these photos! I’ve just arrived in India and I can’t find any chunky belts or long skirts like yours anywhere. Do you remember where you found them?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman November 2, 2015 at 11:01 am #

      I found the belts at markets around India, but I’m afraid I can’t really be more specific than that as they were often just small roadside markets or small shops, etc.

      As mentioned in the post, I bought the longi in Myanmar, and I used sarongs I had purchased in other countries as skirts. This post wasn’t so much meant to be a shopping guide in India but what to pack for the holiday, but I’m sure that you’d be able to find most of these items at local markets and/or shops! You might even want to try a shopping mall in a larger city. 🙂

      Good luck and have a nice time!

      • kim December 7, 2015 at 8:33 am #

        Hi Brenna
        I’m going to India in 2016 and I read in one of your posts that you used a straightener for your hair.Can you tell me what the electricity is like there.I would also like to use a hair drier

        • Brenna Holeman December 7, 2015 at 10:23 am #

          The electricity was mostly fine in urban areas, although keep in mind that hair dryers take up much more power (and often cause more problems) than other electrical items. The best thing I can recommend is buying a very good quality converter… otherwise, I would just buy a hair dryer on your first day in India so that you know it won’t be a problem!

  36. Vera December 23, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    I really love harem pants, but I cant wear them 🙁 I’m rather short and so I look stupid with ankle- or calf-lenght pants u_u

    Also, you are beautiful 🙂

    Merry Christmas & Greetings from Austria

  37. Abitha December 31, 2015 at 1:21 am #

    I am from India, I tell my friends the same when they travel to India and nearby countries.
    You look beautiful in all those outfits especially the bindi on you is very pretty.

    • Brenna Holeman December 31, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      Thank you very much, Abitha!

  38. arya January 8, 2016 at 9:49 am #

    good post

  39. Suman BanjaraBharat January 16, 2016 at 6:35 am #

    You look beautiful in saree.

  40. Victoria January 24, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    Working my way through South Asia and STILL stressing about catering to both the heat and conservative cultures . this post has been a blessing ! I’ve heard that fun breezy pants are easy to come by in India but did you have trouble finding long skirts or dresses ?

    • Brenna Holeman January 24, 2016 at 10:40 pm #

      It’s definitely easier to buy trousers, but I found plenty of stores/stalls that also sold long skirts!

  41. kuheli February 15, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    Where did you get those awesome belts from?

    • Brenna Holeman February 15, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

      Markets in Thailand and India!

  42. Ellen February 20, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    Hi! I found your post so incredibly helpful! Thank you for all those amazing pictures as well. I’ll be staying in Mumbai, India for two months for work and was wondering if you had the chance to visit Mumbai on your trip. If so, are there any must see spots I should check out?!

    • Brenna Holeman February 21, 2016 at 4:00 am #

      Hi Ellen, I’m glad you found the post helpful! I have never been to Mumbai so unfortunately can’t give any tips. Have an amazing time in India!

  43. KausikM February 27, 2016 at 6:11 am #

    Thanks for describing Indian dresses and other helpful information for tourists in India, they were much helpful to me.

  44. Macy March 2, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

    I love reading all of your entries! They make me so excited to begin a journey of my own. This summer I am traveling to Manipur, India. I know you have to be pretty modest overall, but I’ve heard I may have to cover my elbows while in Manipur. Have you been to Manipur or do you have any advice when it comes to covering elbows or not? Thanks!

    • Brenna Holeman March 2, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

      I haven’t been there, so unfortunately I can’t advise you on that area specifically… but I’d highly recommend that you take some long-sleeved tops! Cotton blouses are my favourite, you can cover up but still remain cool.

  45. Rohini March 16, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

    Hello, Brenna Holeman! Well, I am from India and I find this article really interesting. Most foreigners while visiting India do wear white clothes. I must mention here that your various attires are really beautiful. Please visit Kolkata, the city of joy. I am sure you would love the bong (bengali) culture and the bong food. 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman March 16, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

      Thank you very much! I’d love to go back to India one day.

  46. Brenna March 25, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

    I’m travelling to India to volunteer this June and this article made me 100 times more excited. I was pretty nervous about how to dress as I didn’t want to be disrespectful or anything but this helped a lot! Also the fact that we have the same name is wonderful!

  47. maria April 5, 2016 at 1:44 am #

    You just made me feel so much better about what I have packed so far. I am leaving for Golden Triangle on Wed 4/6. I aim to look as comfortable, tasteful and beautiful as you! Thank you for this!!! Maria

    • Brenna Holeman April 5, 2016 at 10:42 am #

      That’s great, Maria, thank you for letting me know! Have fun 🙂

  48. Jacqueline April 29, 2016 at 7:04 am #

    Hello Brenna ! Great article on what to wear in india, lovely pics 🙂 thanks for sharing. Keep sharing your travelling experiences.

  49. sam wilkins May 3, 2016 at 2:31 am #

    It’s so awesome that sarees are so cheap when you shop in India. My daughter is going on a trip to India and she wants to bring clothes that fit the culture there. After reading through this, I think it would be fun if I could buy her some sarees before she goes and have her buy a few more while she is there.

  50. Niv May 10, 2016 at 12:06 am #

    I have lived in India long enough to spot foreign tourists and the first thing I notice is the way they dress. I love how the colors and patterns are vibrant in your dresses. While people residing here look out for modern clothing like jeans and shorts, I feel the ethnic clothes are probably the most comfortable and the best looking garbs we can wear in the hot sun. Im gonna start dressing like you and make heads turn 🙂

  51. Amber Styers May 13, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    UM, this is an awesome article on what to wear! I love looking at all of your clothes and the fact that you wore jewelry! Stunning pics, and you look and seem really positive, LOVE IT! Thank you! I can’t wait to go to India!

  52. Ashtyn May 22, 2016 at 4:09 am #

    Hello… I don’t know if you have already answered this question and I looked through most of your comments and didn’t see it but where did you buy your harem pants, belts, and skirts… You always look so put together and pretty in all of your pictures. Thank you so much for these great tips because it’s my first time going to India and I’m very nervous.

    • Brenna Holeman May 22, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

      Hi Ashtyn, all of this clothing is easily found in most markets in any big city (or even towns) in India. Most of what I’m wearing in this post was locally bought in either India or Thailand! Look up where the nearest handicraft market is and I’m sure you’ll find lots of great options. 🙂

      Have an amazing time – I’m sure you’ll love India!

  53. Elen May 26, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    I LOVE this post and every outfit in it, and thank god it’s not just another “cover your bum and chest in India” post, like so many out there… I live in Nepal, and spend every day in leggings and kurtas, but try to go for the prettiest kurtas with mirrors or tie-die or embroidery. And I especially love the bag you’re wearing in many of these posts–I made a trip to Gujarat especially so I could stock up on these mirrored embroidered treasures 🙂

  54. Philippa May 27, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

    Loved this post! Planning a trip to India with my dad and this made me so excited! I think I will arrive there with a backpack and be leaving with about 3 suitcases!

    • Brenna Holeman May 27, 2016 at 2:57 pm #

      Ha ha, that would be my plan, too! Have an amazing time…

  55. Emily August 9, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

    Loved this post. Thanks for the tips! I noticed you wore a bindi often in your pictures. Did you find that this was accepted by the locals? I’m asking because I have heard that they’re only for special occasions and shouldn’t be worn just for fashion. What did you find?

    • Brenna Holeman August 9, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

      Hi Emily, thanks for your comment. In some cases the local people actually gave me bindis to wear, so I assumed that was acceptable. Many Indian women wear bindis every day, not just for special occasions.

      That being said, I understand your concerns about wearing bindis, as it can be seen as cultural appropriation. I asked women about this while in India and everyone said they loved that I was wearing bindis, but I don’t know if I would do the same today.

  56. Lee August 12, 2016 at 1:36 am #

    Put your hands up if you’re reading this 2016 ✋
    Love this article great tips

  57. Diana August 17, 2016 at 10:34 am #

    Amazing blog post and so interesting to read.

    • Brenna Holeman August 17, 2016 at 10:55 am #

      Thank you!

  58. Shefali August 20, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

    I am from India and I love writing posts about outfits and beauty. As a fashion blogger, I completely agree with these tips. Great post 🙂

    • Brenna Holeman August 21, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

      Thank you very much, I’m glad you enjoy the post!

  59. southcast September 1, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    beautifully explained 🙂
    agree the tips above (y)

  60. Vicky September 14, 2016 at 10:05 am #

    Super duper stylish! You look awesome in all those photos! I’m less so, is it something you can learn? I’m heading there in 6 weeks and have mostly slim fit t-shirts and western style yoga trousers from H&M/New Look etc (so not massively baggy but still pretty cool patterns). Should I ditch all my stuff before I leave Indonesia and arrive with an empty bag or is there anything I can do with these items that I haven’t the creative imagination for?

    • Brenna Holeman September 14, 2016 at 10:08 am #

      I would keep those items until you start shopping in India, just in case you don’t find anything you like right away. I think you can easily pair those items you already have with things you find in markets, for example, one of your t-shirts from home with a market-bought skirt, scarf, and jewellery. Or you can wear the trousers with a new cotton top. I hope you have a great time!

  61. sinead October 3, 2016 at 2:07 am #

    Hi there i loved this blog on india i am going on my first solo trip in january and terrified but excited. i love your outfits and the colours so vibrant can i ask where you got your skirts ? also the thick belt to go around them which is exactly what i am looking for ? thanks so much for all the information it is brilliant for someone such as me who has no clue what to expect !! thank you thank you thank you….

    • Brenna Holeman October 3, 2016 at 10:06 am #

      Hi Sinead, I’m sure you’re going to have an amazing time! The skirts are from a variety of places, almost most styles can be bought in markets in India (I found at least one big market in each city/town I went to). The belt I got in Thailand although it was actually made in India (again, from a market). Trust me, I’m sure you’ll find lots of treasures once you’re there, the shopping is fantastic! Have fun 🙂

  62. Melissa October 9, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

    I LOVE you blog and your posts are so helpful! I’m a solo female traveler heading to India for the first time, so I just have 2 quick questions if anyone can help.

    First – You style is amazing, but I’ll be in northern India during January and have been told that temperature drop to freezing, so I’m not completely sure how to dress for that weather. I was thinking a wool shawl like the one you have from Nepal, and layer leggings under pants. Any other suggestions so that I can dress with local clothes but stay warm? I might need my Western down jacket but would prefer not.

    Second – where did you get that amazing belt from? The one that ties in the back. Looks awesome!

  63. Emily Rose October 23, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    I’m going to India too, but I’m looking for a white blouse like the one you wore in the photos. Where do you find a comfortable blouse that’s good for travel?

  64. Simone December 12, 2016 at 2:35 am #

    Brenna! It is SUCH a pleasure to meet you via your blog! What an onslaught of inspiration and excitement I have received from just reading one post! I’m off in January for Vietnam and India (hopefully a few places in between) for the first time, and I’m so excited to explore even more so after your words and wisdom. Also very tempted to just pack a pretty much empty backpack in terms of clothing, and buy everything there! I have to ask where you got your bangled belt, its simply stunning. I am absolutely going to be looking out for a similar one, and going to have so much fun dressing like the local countries with no fear. Thank you!

  65. Vaibhav Singh December 23, 2016 at 7:22 am #

    Hello, Thanks for sharing such a fantastic blog.I really appreciate your blog to share information about what to wear in India …Visiting in India is amazing experience. This is amazing place with historical monuments and rich traditional culture. Specially dressing style culture, festivals celebration of india attract every tourist.great blog….

  66. Kalai December 28, 2016 at 11:07 am #

    Hi.i just saw ur kalai by the way from Malaysia.just love ur stories n photos. U have a great sense of fashion n u look amazing in each photo.tq for the beautiful post n stories

    • Brenna Holeman January 4, 2017 at 4:28 pm #

      Thank you!

  67. Julianna December 28, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

    Beautiful posts, Brenna. I’ve come back to this same site time and time again. I’m heading to India for my first time in a few weeks and I’m excited and open to all the people, culture, and country will offer. Thank you for for sharing your detailed accounts of what to wear. You look adorable.

  68. Bek December 30, 2016 at 6:15 am #

    Hi, this was great information. Do you happen to know if they cater for larger women in their clothing sizes?

  69. Jane Fairman February 17, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    What a lovely website giving exactly the sort of info I wanted. So much more than just ‘cover your shoulders’. Really lovely pics of you looking great.
    I’m returning to India after a 35 year gap with my best girl friend. Off on an adventure. Are you up for giving advice ?
    Best wishes
    Two very grown up ladies who in their heads are your age !!
    Jane and Jane

  70. Sooshmita March 4, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

    you looked amazing in sari , do you recommend similar dress code for going to Sri Lanka ?

  71. M C Batchelor March 5, 2017 at 11:39 pm #

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog. I will be going to India in April and will be applying your tips. I love your colourful style!
    Thank you very much, all the best on your trips!

    • Brenna Holeman March 6, 2017 at 12:27 am #

      That’s amazing, have a great time! 😀

  72. Katerina Athena March 6, 2017 at 2:57 am #

    I’ll be going to Northern rural India this summer to work on a farm. I’ve been before and I definitely will be wearing culture appropriate clothing but I was wondering if you happen to know any shops online with really simple light weight kurtis/dupattas? I can find infinite amounts of fancy outfits but I really just need simple and light weight since it will be summer and scorching hot! I will be traveling alone and do not want to draw any attention to myself. (i’m greek but can pass for a lighter skinned desi girl, Mostly people assume I’m sindhi or nepali. Any leads would be much appreciated! Thanks so much!

  73. Joselen Rodriguez March 7, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

    hello any advice for those attending the Holi celebration

  74. Dipak March 23, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

    Not only you kept it kool and chic but ethnic too. Loved the blog and your colorful attires.

  75. Cristina April 23, 2017 at 10:07 pm #

    I’m leaving for northern India in exactly one week. This post is incredibly helpful as the flowly clothing I will be bringing will keep me cool or at least I hope so. So it’s nice to know that I can pick up a traditional dress or skirt while I ‘m there. Thank you!

    • Brenna Holeman April 23, 2017 at 10:53 pm #

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Cristina! Have fun in India 🙂

  76. Phoenix's mom April 30, 2017 at 2:32 am #

    Thank you for this post. My 14 yr old daughter and I are going to New Delhi next week presenting at Women Economic Forum, and I had no clue what to wear.

    Being from Canada (too), there is a significant population of Indians in our area, and I found items for my daughter to wear as soon as we step off the plane…none for me, and I was a little stressed by it. With your pictures, I have been able to put together a couple of things I feel comfortable starting out in until I can get to a market.

    On our way home, we have a 14 hr layover in London. Any recommendations?

  77. Jenny July 14, 2017 at 7:53 am #

    You look so beautiful in traditional Punjabi dress material…Thew goat shot is ROFL!!! and the desert one so deep…Thank you for the share….

  78. kiana September 8, 2017 at 7:27 am #

    Thanks for the great advice and photos. Yours has been the only one I’ve read out of 6 that actually talked about buying the items there and just taking a mostly empty suitcase. I tried to do that in Peru and Thailand and I’m glad I did. Surprisingly, I had a really hard time finding solid print, cotton tops in Thailand. I hope that won’t be a problem in India. Thanks again!

  79. ana October 12, 2017 at 12:55 am #

    i passed by your picture with the skirt that has the tule on the bottom and loved it so much im glad i came to fall on your blog later on the day. you are pretty, i wish to travel for a really long time just like you xoxo

    • Brenna Holeman October 13, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

      Aw, thank you very much, Ana!

  80. ana October 12, 2017 at 12:57 am #

    im always such a cheap bitch and end up never buying anything because i dont want to waste money but in india i musttttt the outfits are so good. also im always afraid of choosing something that turns out to be the ugliest thing that has ever existed and only finding that out when i come back to my mothers awful feedbacks


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