Wear in the World: What to Wear in India

india outfits impact

 

When we went to India a few years ago, after all the planning of how we were going to cover more than 600 miles across Rajasthan in two weeks (we had to cut out the deserts of Jaisalmer, a decision we regret to this day but at the time had little choice), my next consideration was, of course, what do I wear.

We went in October, but in Rajasthan, October might as well be July in terms of heat and humidity. And yet because we’d be visiting temples and other revered sights, and given the culture of the region, I had to dress conservatively, preferably covering most of my legs and upper arms. Needless to say, shorts and tanks — what I, as well as many of my fellow human beings, would prefer to wear in 90 degree heat with 90 percent humidity — was out of the question. As a Southern California girl, this was a difficult styling challenge, but as one who revels in the pre-vacation planning process, it was a challenge I was up for.

In general, I had very few things that were long and not form-fitting and breathable. I also didn’t want to bring anything too precious or difficult to clean. When it comes to clothing and accessories, my travel motto is never bring anything you can’t afford to lose or ruin. I dumped everything out of my backup armoire — filled with clothes I haven’t worn in years but keep around just for situations like this. I managed to find a couple of cargo pants from the early aughts and a few loose-fitting tees. I eventually had to scour my mother’s closet for long, loose skirts and baggy linen pants, something I hadn’t done since I was a teen, borrowing my mother’s clothes.

Eventually, the outfits I came up with kept me cool — well, less drenched in sweat, if that was possible — and covered up, but they were more utilitarian than stylish, imo. Funny thing is, as I was reviewing the spring/summer 2016 runway looks recently, I came across a bunch of looks where I thought — ah, now that’s what I should have worn to India. So herewith, my looks from India and what I would have worn in a parallel, more fabulous world.

 

White linen pants and a loose cotton top, belted low.

White linen pants and a loose cotton top, belted low, seemed appropriate for the iconic Taj Mahal.

 

Isabel Marant's globetrotter accessories instantly update travel-friendly white pants.

A few well-placed accessories instantly update Isabel Marant’s travel-friendly white pants — a much more stylish option for the Taj Mahal.

 

An ancient maxi skirt from the '90s, paired with a simple saffron hued tee.

An old maxi skirt I’ve had since the ’90s, paired with a simple saffron hued tee at the 16th century Mughal city Fatehpur Sikri.

 

Easy and breezy, but with interesting details, make this Alberta Ferretti look perfect.

Easy and breezy, but with interesting details, make this Alberta Ferretti look perfect for a sweltering Indian autumn.

 

I don't even want to think about how old these pedal pushers are (the fact that I called them pedal pushers give you a hint).

I don’t even want to think about how old these pedal pushers are (the fact that I call them pedal pushers may give you a hint); I wore them nonetheless to the über fancy Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, once the 18th century winter palace of Maharana Singh II.

 

This Michael Kors ensemble I'd wear on the plane, on the ground, everywhere.

Slightly more palace-appropriate: This Michael Kors ensemble I’d wear on the plane, on the ground, everywhere.

 

Dark printed pants, a loaner from my mother, and a dress posing as a top.

For lunch at the Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur, I wore dark printed pants, a loaner from my mother, and a dress that I wore as a top.

 

Indian women wear colorfully printed kurti tunics all the time. I regret not getting one — it would have been perfect, like this Isabel Marant version.

Indian women wear colorfully printed kurti tunics all the time. I regret not getting one — it would have been perfect, like this Isabel Marant version.

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