Work wardrobe for India

(15 Posts)
Stanley38 Tue 14-Jun-16 12:55:32

I will shortly be travelling to India for work, a place I have never done business. I will be travelling to the major cities, nothing rural or out-of-the-way. My industry is fairly modern, with an even-ish split of women and men.

When I ask people I know about business-wear there, I think their instinct is to say things like "cover your shoulders" and "no skirts above the knee" but I am looking for advice from people with first hand experience.

My assumption is that business in India will be quite "westernised" and because it will be over 30 degrees, I don't want to always wear my suit jacket/ long sleeves if I don't have to. So I am wondering if, for example, sleeveless silk blouses with skirts/ trousers will be OK (i.e. bare arms)?

coffeecakemum Tue 14-Jun-16 13:25:11

I am Indian and just wanted to say sleeveless/short sleeve is ok for work. Not v short skirts. It can be v hot so consider light colours. (Delhi could be 45 degrees) If you were to take a taxi after work or going out late evening I would use a wrap to cover bare arms or chest even in cities.

lenibose Tue 14-Jun-16 13:30:39

<waves to a fellow Indian> It is very hot right now. I would say a cotton blouse/top (smart one) with trousers would be fine. Sleeveless is fine as well. You could even wear a plain cotton dress as long as it didn't show cleavage and was knee length.

Stanley38 Tue 14-Jun-16 17:29:44

Thank you so much, ladies! Great advice :-)

SapphireStrange Tue 14-Jun-16 18:18:00

I wouldn't wear silk; it crushes easily and feels quite hot, IME.

Personally I like to cover up in the sun/hot weather and find it cooler. I'd go for a cotton long-sleeved shirt and light but smartish trousers in a heavy cotton or cotton/linen mix.

I should add that I've no experience of working in India, though, so feel free to ignore me. grin

lenibose Tue 14-Jun-16 18:22:42

Don't wear long sleeves. It is truly unbearably hot at the minute. It was close to 40 degrees in my city yesterday. But otherwise don't wear silk in this weather.

W8woman Tue 14-Jun-16 18:58:40

I'm not Indian, but have worked there. Wear a sports bra in wicking fabric. This is the best advice I've ever been given for tropical climes. Otherwise you will sweat a bra-shaped silhouette onto your clothes.

Even metropolitan Indian cities are very conservative. I'd wear loose cotton trousers and an Indian tunic (try East, Monsoon, Zara) or shirt dress over them, in the usual business colours such as black, navy, grey or beige, with good grooming and smart accessories. This will garner you major Brownie points and keep you comfortable in the heat. Except in the smartest hotels, the air conditioning rarely works as the monsoon rains often bugger up the electrics. On that note, take an umbrella and a pair of rubber flip flops as well as your work shoes.

Stanley38 Tue 14-Jun-16 20:44:19

Thanks for the extra advice. I am actually really hoping the air con issue will OK as the companies I am visiting are fairly sizeable companies (mostly multinational) and luckily my company pays for good hotels, cars/ drivers etc... Fingers crossed I won't have that many opportunities to wilt!

I think I'm going to take some of the blouses (not silk), a pencil skirt, a looser A-line skirt and a navy trouser suit I have. I have been wanting to buy a new dress for work anyway, so think I will have a look for something that will work well out there.

I actually really appreciate the tunic/ trousers comment, but it's just not my style... I think I'd end up feeling uncomfortable going into meetings I am already nervous about if I felt like I was dressed differently iykwim?

Umbrella! I probably would have forgotten that actually and had to go about with one of those enormous hotel golf umbrellas.

GarlicBreadItsTheFuture Tue 14-Jun-16 21:16:25

I have been on business to India. What works for me is a short sleeved top with a light jacket or cardigan over the top as the air con can be fierce, when working, worn with either a longish skirt or 7/8th trousers (light weight wool doesn't crease and it feels less damp and clingy if humid than either cotton or linen).

Agree with tip on rubber flip flops and umbrella. If going to a particularly humid area I also wear a Uniqlo AIRism vest as it stops the sweat making your top damp.

Don't forget insect repellent. I usually take the wipes as well as a roll-on as they are easier to carry round and you will need them.

W8woman Tue 14-Jun-16 22:53:57

Baby wipes! Impossible to find last time I was there two years ago and absolutely essential. Tampax isn't easy to find either.

Trouser suits are a good shout (especially in cotton or linen) and you could also adapt the chino and shirt smart-casual uniform of your male colleagues. Ghost do a maxi slip dress called Mel which I own in a dozen colours. It scrunches up to nothing and with a cotton jacket or cardigan I can be smart and covered up but not hot.

I know the feeling of wanting to maintain your own style, but I would really caution against pencil skirts or anything short, form fitting or revealing. India is the only place I've ever had my bottom pinched (hilarious now, horrifying at the time) and it's interesting to read the Indian poster's advice above about covering yourself up in the evenings even in major cities. Over the years I've found the best way to be taken seriously is to dress very modestly in a style that nods to the host culture.

apatheticfallacy Tue 14-Jun-16 23:17:31

I worked in India for three months (monsoon season and a bit beyond).

I think the Indian tunic idea was great advice - I got endless compliments and people seemed really thrilled that I'd bought a couple and added them to my workwear wardrobe.

Things that I would have considered smart/casual were actually considered casual casual there (I wore a knee length skirt with a high quality smart scoop neck top and was politely told it was seen as unprofessional).

Cotton blouses, looser knee length or logger skirts. A definite yes to the umberella! Beware of flip flops though - I had muddy water splattered up my back from wearing them to save my smarter shoes during a torrential down pour. Something with a strap across to stop the splattering would be better.

And most of all enjoy yourself! I found it challenging at times but an overwhelmingly enjoyable experience.

apatheticfallacy Tue 14-Jun-16 23:17:53

And yes - if you use tanpons take enough for the whole trip

lenibose Wed 15-Jun-16 04:07:28

Last year in India in the monsoons I took a pair of Crocs flip flops and kept them in my bag.

OlennasWimple Wed 15-Jun-16 04:10:35

When the air con works it can be chilly, so another reason to take a couple of scarves with you (always keep one in your bag, for eg)

Watchingdallas Wed 15-Jun-16 04:31:13

I'm Indian and have grown up and studied/interned in three cities

Not baring arms or too much leg and definitely no cleavage is best.

Please be very careful. Don't assume your traditional "safe" people like policemen, drivers or grocery stall owners will by default be safe. Keep to populated areas, curb any desires for evening jogs, and remember that for all the many Hindu goddesses that men in my country worships to frothing excess, many have very little respect for the bodies of the women in real life. What is sexual harassment in the west is often even forgivingly called Eve teasing in India.

Sorry I will stop writing now. I've grown up as a girl to woman in Indian cities and I have a different wardrobe for my yearly visits home from the uk. And j keep the visits very very brief and home cantered.

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