I've been invited to an academic workshop in India. As a North American woman, it is conventional to wear business casual (e.g., pant suit or dress) or even casual clothing to a conference or workshop in my field (geography/health). Would it be appropriate to wear business casual in India or to dress more formally? Are pants preferred over knee-length skirts for women?

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    Can you ask the folks who invited you? // If the venue isn't air conditioned, you might be more comfortable in a dress or skirt than slacks. // The conservatism in the US against flowers and frills is probably not so present in India. Feb 10, 2018 at 18:55

2 Answers 2


This is out of my field as I’m male, but think of the temperature, so next be respectful (not suggesting you wouldn’t...) but a lightweight business suit may be the order of the day.

Any images of last years conference available - may give you a hint...

I don’t think you will be required to wear a sari ... Mind you a colleague went to a conference abroad and made some friends and they went shopping to get her some national dress as a memento .... and some light fun of course.

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    +1 for "Any images of last years conference available - may give you a hint" Absent suggestions from someone more specifically knowledgeable about India-appropriate attire, this is an excellent idea, and also it can be used (or at least attempted) for similar attire concerns elsewhere. Feb 10, 2018 at 9:47
  • Agreed with @DaveLRenfro. That idea would have never occurred to me, but it's definitely going in the toolbox now! Feb 11, 2018 at 0:24

I think a plain short kurti - preferably one that goes down past your bottom and is not sleeveless - with plain jeans (not ripped or stonewashed or with designs) is perfectly appropriate. I wear this outfit both in India and the US, and it doesn't look out of place in either country, while being extremely comfortable in the Indian climate. In the US, I believe kurtis are called long tunics here and are sold by several major brands.

I don't think there's a need to wear a sari. My friends who work in India only wear saris when they want an excuse to dress up :) For example, weddings, super formal events, etc. Of course my mother and mothers of my friends wore saris almost every day, to go to work. So maybe it's a generational thing.

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