The clothes a man needs to live in India

When I moved to India, all I brought with me was a carry-on bag with some business clothes, a laptop bag with my computer and an external wireless antenna for increased signal radius. Since I had so much extra space, I also picked up 312 bottles of Knock Out Cosmetics and a gorilla suit and packed them into a duffel bag Daya bought me in New York. (At some point I’ll blog about my adventure getting through customs with 312 bottles of nailpolish.)

Due the popularity of oxymoronic zenlike platitudes, there’s a romantic connotation attached to moving somewhere new with very few possessions. However, unless you know what you’re doing, less is not more. Especially if the clothes you bring are uncomfortable and unforgiving of moderate weight gain.

Here’s a new platitude: if everything you own would fit into two checked bags anyways, then you might as well just bring the two checked bags and hope for the best.

Here’s what you need to own, if you’re a male, in India:

  • Two pairs of linen pants.
  • Four linen or loose cotton dress shirts.
  • One pair of brown leather dress shoes.
  • One pair of sneakers.
  • Four pairs of dark socks.

If you plan ahead and bring the above items, you actually don’t need to bring much. And you won’t need to do any clothes shopping when you arrive.

I did not plan ahead. Here’s what I brought:

  • Six cotton dress shirts
  • One three piece suit
  • Three additional pairs of trousers (navy, grey, black)
  • One pair of black pajama pants with red hot chili pepper pattern (the fruit, not the band)
  • One pair of jeans
  • One polo shirt with pink and brown psychedelic print
  • One baggie hippie t-shirt with a circle-of-life style picture of a bunch of animals. Too hideous to wear in public.
  • One dark blue t-shirt Daya insisted I wear on the plane when she saw me wearing hippie t-shirt and pajama pants with red hot chili pepper print (her coworkers would be on the flight and her boss was picking us up from the airport)
  • One best-selling black anti-bush t-shirt that I designed
  • Four dark socks (two pairs of non-matching dress socks)
  • Four pairs of underwear
  • One pair of brown dress shoes (matching)
  • One pair of brown cowboy boots
  • One pair of black casual shoes
  • One full body gorilla suit

The clothes did me well enough. I’ve had clothing to wear every day. However:

  • The clothes I brought are not comfortable in any amount heat. I realized this the week I was in New York, but I did not make the time to buy climate appropriate clothes as I should have. I thought it would be easy to find clothes in India.
  • It took me longer to find the time to buy clothes in India than I thought it would.
  • The clothes became uncomfortable after I gained a minimal amount of weight my first week here. Maybe I just got bloated though. Whatever. Point is the clothes are uncomfortable.

Now that I know about Fab India though, I would recommend people just go straight there if they need clothes. Spend an hour there and you’ll have a bunch of comfortable clothes.

As for shoes, you can buy sneakers at one of the Puma, Adidas or Nike stores. I don’t know about dress shoes yet though. I brought a nice pair of brown shoes with me, so I did not have that problem. These shoes are the one useful thing I packed. You can find decent quality combed cotton dress socks at Big Bazaar.

You’ll probably have a maid who can wash clothes for you every weekday. Linen breathes well and it’s acceptable for men to wear the same pants a couple days in a row. Therefore underwear is optional.

I checked out other stores too.

Globus is a western clothes retailer in India that has non-bootleg western clothes at inexpensive prices. Go to it for workout clothes, and if you cannot find a Fab India to buy more comfortable Indian clothes that are just as appropriate for formal occasions.

Shops on the side of the road have low quality clothes that will rip easily.

Anonymous store-front shops tend to have the same low quality clothes as shops on the side of the road, along with counterfeit name brand clothing of inferior quality. However, they are probably good places to find clothes if you are plan on doing field anthropological research, as most Indians seem to prefer these clothes to more practical, nicer looking clothes sold for similar amounts of money at Fab India.

Comments are closed.