When in a foreign country, it is best to adapt to the way people are dressed not just to divert any unwanted attention, but also as a sign of respect for the place’s culture. If you are planning a trip to Chennai, it is important to know what to wear in Chennai.
Chennai, the capital of the Tamil Nadu state found in the southern part of India, is a diverse mix of Indian culture unlike other major cities in India. Its unique blend of traditional and conventional ways gives the city its distinct characteristics which earned its nickname the Gateway to the South.
Chennai is one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities in India. Its increasing development is paving way for a more cosmopolitan lifestyle. Indian people are naturally simple and conventional in their clothing, which are generally dictated by their religion and social practices. Their manner of clothing also coincides with the climate in Chennai.
Since it is usually hot and humid, men and women alike prefer to wear lighter clothes. Women in Chennai are highly respected and well-regarded. They are often seen wearing saris that are exquisitely designed in different fabrics. Modern, light, and innovative fabrics have made their way in becoming gorgeous styles that compliment the traditional beauty of an Indian woman.
Women usually wear different colored saris (sarees) which are unstitched flowing fabrics of about four to nine yards, depending on the size of the woman’s body. The fabric is then draped on the body in different styles wherein the most common is wrapping it around the waist, baring the midriff part, with the end of the cloth draped over the shoulder. They are usually worn with a choli (blouse) or ravika that forms the upper garment. Cholis are midriff and navel baring blouses that are sometimes cut with short sleeves and low necks. They are perfect for the hot South India weather. Cholis are also sometimes fashioned as halter tops.
Men’s fashion is relatively almost the same anywhere in India. In Chennai, most of the men can be seen wearing typical veshti (dhoti or pancha) which is a traditional garment worn by men in India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. These are also usually worn with a sattai (shirt) or with a chokka. Veshtis are rectangular unstitched cloth of about 4.5 meters long and is wrapped around the waist and legs where it is secured and knotted at the waist. Men also wear lungi or sarong.
Since Chennai is a metropolitan city, western clothing can be seen worn by locals around the more urbanized parts of the city. Many working professionals are seen wearing business wear ensembles created in light fabrics.
If you are still unsure of what to wear in Chennai, a general rule is to dress light for comfort and refrain from dressing in revealing clothes that might offend people. Women especially, should be careful on what clothes they would wear when traveling around Chennai or in other parts of India. To avoid any unwanted attention from local men, women must wear decent and respectable clothing. Just like the old saying, “When in Rome, do what the Romans do,” when in Chennai, dress like Chennaites do.