Monday, July 2, 2007

The "I Don't Know What To Wear In India" Post

As I'm just a little over a month from my trip (are you excited???), I am beginning to put together a packing list of sorts for Hyderabad.

One of my primary concerns is that I will be working at the university as a guest director/teacher, but all of my current clothing screams "starving threadbare graduate student."

Sure, I could play that, but I'd rather not. I'd like to dress -- well, if not "to impress," at least "to radiate competence and professionalism."

In short, to look like a for-real grownup teacher. ^__^

The faculty uniform in the US, of course, is fairly casual, although a good few levels above the things I generally wear (not by choice, Team Readers -- by economic necessity ^__^).

I don't really know what the faculty uniform is like in India, though, particularly for women.

Skirts? Slacks? Salwar? Saris? Blue jeans?

As you can see my head is all in a tizzy.

For those who have been there: what would a woman working at a university wear?

Thanks in advance. Y'all rock.


ctrlalteredmind said...

salwar/saris would be the way to go; most faculty at universities dress formally in saris, although you would know what the norm is (I've never been to Hyderabad :P) in less than a day. The bright side is you get to go shopping right away, and clothes are cheaper in India :)

Blue said...

Sweet. Did rather want to test-drive a sari. ^__^

I was hoping I could buy clothing there (and get away with it) instead of having to purchase way-too-expensive western-style "career wear" before I left. It's still my secret plan.

Beth said...

I was only on a few university campuses, and all the professors I met were in sari or salwar, as were all the teachers I met at the dozen or so schools I visited. Plus yay shopping!

Blue said...

Oooh! Where did you go in India and why were you visiting schools? (I like schools.)

Space Bar said...

blue, like everyone's already said, sari or salwars. which university? ciefl? hcu? do drop a line if you need any help. i'm in hyderabad.

Blue said...

Space Bar -- I'll be at Sarojini Naidu School of Performing Arts at U-Hyd.

neha vish said...

Actually, hardly anyone wears a Saree this days on campus. Especially because it is that much harder to travel in public transport in a saree. Plus, saree is much higher on maintenance. Salwar kameez is easy - low maintenance etc.

The other option is to opt for your standard blue jeans and wear small kurtis on top. If you need to shop as soon as you're in India - I suggest going to Fab India in Banjara Hills (in Hyderabad). They have an excellent collection of salwar kameezes/ kurtis/ etc.

But Fab India can be a little hard to find on your first day in Hyderabad. So what you can do - is head to Sardar Patel Road (it's the main road that connects Secunderabad and Hyderabad) - and there are two HUGE stores - Lifestyle and Shoppers Stop. They would have everything you need. Plus, any autowalah in Hyderabad worth his three wheels would know where Shopper's Stop is.

The other option is to go to Hyderabad Central at Ameerpet. But I was never too happy with their collection of Indian clothes. Hope this helps! Mail me if you want more info - I lived in Hyderabad for sometime and love that city!

Daniel said...

Uh...yeah, I have no input on this post, but I like to comment on your blog anyway, so, uh, ...

In Manhattan, female professors wear suits (or nice blouses and pants) to teach in. I know that it's completely irrelevant, but I just feel the urge to chime in.

I think my favorite part of Indian clothing (coming from a complete outsider's point of view) is the color. There's always so many vibrant colors in my mind's eye of (formal (?)) tradiational Indian clothing.

So, you should get saris of all colors, and have TONS of fun w/ them!


Anonymous said...


Saris/Salwars for sure, and you've received good input on those already, but I would suggest getting some professional looking western wear as well. I am told that most working women wear western professional wear to work now, saris and other Indian clothing being restricted to Fridays or other more relaxed says. I haven't lived in India for almost 20 years now, so have no idea how much this applies to college campuses.

I think you said you are in the mid-west now? Kohls carries a decent selection of career-wear and doesn't break the bank, IME.
If your budget will stretch that far, maybe a couple of pairs of nice slacks and a blazer? You can always buy shirts/tunics in India to wear with these pants. I do find that pants are better bought here - their cut is better here than in India. (could be because I am taller and more "endowed" than the average Indian though :-D)

How exciting for you!


Blue said...

Daniel -- bet the theatre profs in Manhattan don't wear suits. ^__^

Neha -- S. mentioned Fab India too. The website looks lots of fun. Is it ready-made or tailored?

Definitely want to stop by.

Bitterlemons -- yeah, I should probably get something that looks professional and tidy. I've been making three pairs of polyester pants (the cheapest kind of polyester available -- just imagine) cycle through about five knit tops for this temp work, and everything is just giving way to faded sagginess.

Kohls I don't trust very much, because I've bought clothes there that have fallen apart after one washing. But yeah -- TJ Maxx and the ilk; I know what kind of stores you're talking about.

So what is the "Indian cut?" It wouldn't happen to be for women around five feet tall with curvy little figures, hmmm???? ^__^

neha vish said...

Blue: Fab India is all ready-made. Usually they have sizes 8 to 16. (UK sizes.)

The idea of course is that you go completely nuts and mix and match as you're shopping. Which is sooo much fun!

Blue said...

Oh no! But my favorite method of shopping is going to Old Navy and buying things in my size without even trying them on because I know the Old Navy cut will fit me!

(And then running out of the mall as fast as I can.)

Um... maybe shopping will be more fun at Fab India. ^__^

Daniel said...

I can't claim to have had a theater professor in NYC, but my only theater professor ever used to wear muumuus. I'm thinking that's not what you're going to go for, though.

Maybe you can come to NYC again and go to several of the fabulous bargain stores we have here (Century 21, Filene's, Lohmanns, etc) to get lovely dress-up-wear for cheaply.

Just a thought... :)

Anonymous said...


I wear "tall" sizes (longer legs than avergae), and Indian cuts are always too short in the leg and crotch for me.

I guess you are a "petite" size in the US? In that case, you MUST buy pants here! India really hasn't caught on to petite sizing for pants, and I regularly take back pants of all kinds for folks in India who wear Petite sizes. Tops aren't such a problem - most seem sized at a S-M in US sizes (probably 6-10) so you should be OK. Salwars and other Indian clothing can be tailored to fit you, so again, not a big deal...but pants - yes, take enough from here to last you.


ggop said...

Agree with above advice. Do not attempt to buy pants in India. They are sized only for very skinny people and the cut is not good.
I went to Pantaloons last winter - I am a XXL there, I fit comfortably into size 8/10 here.

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