Arts + Culture

What Not To Wear: Dress Codes Worldwide

by Eimear Lynch

India

At a meeting: Hillary Clinton, you're in luck—pantsuits are okay anywhere in India; choose cotton or linen in summer, and accessorize with a colored scarf or dangly earrings to keep up with vividly dressed locals, who wear bold diaphanous saris to boardrooms in Bangalore and Mumbai. (Men, don't be afraid to wear color, too—you certainly won't feel out of place.)

On the street: Unless you're here to visit a Bollywood star, designer clothes aren't right for Indian city streets. A sari won't work, either: "Western women look silly because they can't wrap or tie it right," says Barbara Crossette, author of India: Old Civilization in a New World. Instead, wear drawstring pants, leather toe sandals, and a nice cotton tee. Men can go super-comfy in a kurta, or knee-length tunic, usually worn with cotton or linen bottoms; the women's version is called a kameez.

At a party: Since beautiful silk is readily available, women commission local seamstresses to make sleek knee-length tunics with side slits and legging-like pants worn bunched at the ankles. But your jewels are what you'll really be judged by: "Indians have their jewelry made to order; no one buys off the shelf," Crossette says. Men wear short-sleeved button-downs, slacks, and loafers.

P.S. Sandals are easiest when touring, since you can slip them off quickly before entering temples. And a word to the wise: Ankle bracelets are out.

Next: What Not To Wear in Japan ›

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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