What to Wear: Nepal

By Lynna - May 09, 2018

I've been wanting to write about what to wear for travels for a while now, especially since my background is in fashion, so I'm excited to share the first of this type of post with you all!

My goal with dressing for this trip was to try to blend in with the colorful, vibrant streets of Kathmandu, Nepal.  Of course, my priority was keeping cool and being comfortable but I could not help splurging on the most gorgeous pieces from the local shops (also it's not really considered splurging when the prices are this low, is it?).  I found that I had a great time dressing according to the cultural dress in Nepal (I suppose it helped that literally every single local I met told me I looked Nepalese!) and I think from now on my goal will be to try dressing like this as much as possible, just as a show of respect and love for the culture itself, wherever I may be in the world.

I would usually just dress for functionality and comfort before but this experience definitely broadened my horizons on dressing for travel.

Please note this post is solely for sightseeing / exploring / shopping around the city and surrounding areas of the Kathmandu Valley, and NOT advice for trekkers or hikers venturing into the Himalayas!  I'm sure those who are doing serious trekking already have a good idea of what kind of gear they need, but I just wanted to clarify that :)

With that said, here are my top favorite pieces that I wore during my trip:

  1. Loose Flowy Tops (Cotton or Linen preferred)

    If you are going in a warmer season such as spring or summer, the temperatures can get pretty high so I recommend wearing loose comfortable tops (preferably in cotton or linen) to keep cool but still blend in a bit since loose tunics / tops are the norm here.  This is also a very comfortable clothing item to wear,  especially if you're going to be walking around a lot -- shopping or sightseeing, etc.  Please note that the norm for Nepalese dress relatively conservative, so shoulders / midriff are rarely (if ever) exposed, which is why I recommend these types of flowy tops versus tanks or crop tops.

    Also: the more colorful, the better! I walked around looking like a rainbow threw up on me at all times! (I say this with absolutely no regrets).
  2. Long Maxi Skirts / Harem Pants
    I am literally so obsessed with this turquoise shawl and vermillion skirt color combo! 
    Long maxi skirts and harem pants are a wonderful choice of clothing to wear with your flowy tops or shawls in Nepal as they are easy and simple to wear and navigate in, loose and comfortable, and you'll look as a great as ever in the vibrant, beautiful colors that are readily available around the locals shops strewn all about the city.  They are also my favorite option for bottoms if you're going to be doing lots of sightseeing or walking around since they are so functional and comfortable.  If the weather is cooler when you are traveling, you can easily layer a pair of leggings underneath the maxi skirts or harem pants to keep you warm.

  3. Sandals

    When I first arrived in Kathmandu I was silly to think that I wouldn't have to whip out the pair of beat up Earth sandals I had crammed at the bottom of my suitcase but little did I know how warm and humid the air was going to be and how horribly uncomfortable that would make my thick hiking boots feel!  Even though the ground is quite dusty, rocky, and uneven on most of the dirt roads (not to mention the skies seem to just pour buckets of rain at a moment's notice on the daily) as long as you have some sturdy sandals with a bit more coverage than just flimsy flip flops and as long as you are careful to watch where you're stepping, you should be totally fine.  The first two days I dragged out my awfully heavy thick boots and wore them all over town but that soon wore on me. On the second evening in Kathmandu, I ventured out in my sandals and instantly loved how much easier I could navigate the crowded streets and how comfortable and freeing the feeling was... I felt like I was just floating down the dirt roads like a weightless fairy compared to the clomping and slogging I was doing in my boots for the past two days.  Thank god I had packed those sandals!
  4. Scarves / Shawls

    I didn't pack any shawls or scarves for this trip because I was already planning to buy and whole sleuth of them, they were definitely at the top of my shopping list!  Where else in the world would you buy these beautiful intricate Pashmina scarves for literally a fraction of the normal cost if not in Nepal?  I splurged on quite a few of them and I love them all so much!  The colors are just stunning and they are so soft and comfortable on the skin.  They are super easy to wear and so versatile in function -- you can wear them to just cover up your shoulders before stepping into a temple, as an adornment for a splash of color, as a skirt or sarong, or just as your top for that day's outfit.  I wore them usually as my top for the day if I wasn't wearing one of my flowy tops.  I just casually wrapped them around myself with a camisole underneath, and voila -- I had the cutest outfit!  The shops all over town also sell yak wool and cashmere shawls if the season you are traveling in is too cold for a thin pashmina shawl.

  5. Jewelry

    If you know me in person at all, you'll know that I have an unhealthy addiction to wearing as much jewelry as humanly possible at any given time so this was a seriously dangerous territory for me to wandering around because there are literally endless rows and rows of mala bead shops and handmade jewelry stores... enough to satisfy this jewelry lover for a lifetime.  Needless to say, I went totally crazy and bought way too many pieces of jewelry here and tried to wear them all at once.  I didn't feel unsafe wearing a lot of jewelry because it was very obvious that the jewelry was inexpensive and that I had bought them from the local handicraft shops, it wasn't like I was walking around wearing diamond earrings and rings or anything like that.
  6. Tanks / T-shirts

    This last item - tanks and t-shirts - are just travel basics that I usually try to pack 1-2 pieces of for every trip.  Layers are always good; you can layer on more if it gets chilly and remove them if the weather turns warmer!  I found that I wore both of my camisoles the entire trip -- mainly as a base layer for my shawls and scarves, and then again underneath my loose tops which were a bit see-through and not completely opaque as I would have liked them to be.
I hope you enjoyed this new post topic that I am trying out! Let me know if you have any tips of your own on what to wear in Nepal if you've been!  Also please feel free to comment below if there are any other destinations you would like tips on what to wear!

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  1. I absolutely love all your outfits! I never knew shawls could look so beautiful and stylish. Could you also do a separate post on where you stayed,food, culture and etc as well. Keep up the awesome work, look forward to your other post♡

    1. Thank you so much Vivi! Your comment is so sweet! I didn't realize how much I would love wearing shawls either! They were so versatile and comfortable that I want to wear them all the time for my daily outfits now!

      I definitely will do another post about my itinerary for Nepal, including where to stay and food, etc. Stay tuned!!

      Love you!!! Thanks for the support! ♡