1. Harem pants
When I arrived in New Delhi in January, I saw that pretty much every other young Western woman had read the same travel blogs as me.
Harem pants, t-shirt and a scarf were the Millennial travellers’ uniform.
If you love harem pants, do not let me stop you. But I just hate them.
Local women were either wearing traditional clothing or the same Western clothing you’d see at home.
My unloved pants got retired as soon as I got a chance to buy jeans. At a mall.
2. Black, white and grey
My monochrome west coast uniform was really not cutting it.
Before I left, I spent $20 on a light blue scarf. When I got to India, a merchant told that something as plain as my scarf was only good for cleaning your car. Hahaha. Noted!
I also was getting gently but consistently prodded to wear something colourful already by new friend from India. My long black maxi skirt got a big thumbs down too.
I got this large, bright scarf for $5 along with a few other things. Much better.
3. Too much stuff from home
It is very easy to arrange to have clothing made for you in one day. Some people in my group had traditional clothing made for them. Others brought dresses from home that they had copied using local fabrics.
I had fun picking out a short kurta at Fab India. It was expensive for India, but not compared to home.
My only regret on this trip is that I did not fill up a second suitcase full of cheap, colourful clothes and scarves.
4. Skimpy clothes
The typical advice you read for India is to avoid sleeveless shirts, short skirts or anything skimpy. Here’s a quote from Lonely Planet:
Take time to observe local customs during your stay, and especially on your arrival: behaviour and clothing that mean one thing back home may mean something totally different in India, and you may unwittingly send the wrong messages.
When I went back to New Delhi in the spring, it was over 40C (105F). I brought some cooler clothing, including dresses and tank tops.
I was travelling with my friend has lived her whole life in Delhi. She swore up and down everything I wore was absolutely fine. But most people were wearing wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts. My friend said this was because people did not want to get a tan.
I probably wouldn’t have dressed like this if I was travelling on my own. Travelling with a local meant I never got lost and there was never a language barrier. We also always took Ubers! I was happy that I could stay slightly cooler. I got used to the heat enough that I could spend an hour or so outside before melting!