Which bowling shirt is best?
If you’re looking for casual summer attire, a bowling shirt is a great choice. Thanks to the short sleeves, loose fit and relaxed collar, it’s a perfect piece of clothing for warm weather. You don’t even have to join a bowling league to get one.
While you can find plenty of subtle versions, many people like these shirts for their bold designs. If you’re looking for retro-style panel stripes, the Hilton Cruiser Bowling Shirt is a top choice.
What to know before you buy a bowling shirt
The boxy cut with a straight, squared hem sets these shirts apart from other button-down shirts. They’re designed for wearing untucked, so there’s no need for a rounded hem. Plus, the straight hem is reminiscent of a T-shirt, adding to the casual appearance. They’re meant to be relatively loose fitting, but it’s up to the wearer whether they like the fit baggy or just slightly relaxed.
All bowling shirts have short sleeves. They’re cut quite wide, which goes with the boxy shape of the shirt, but also allows a good range of motion when these shirts are worn for bowling. The short-sleeved design not only makes these shirts look casual, but it also means they’re great summer attire.
The print or design on the shirt is important. If it was just a single plain color, it wouldn’t be much different from any other short-sleeved shirt.
Thick panel stripes are common. These are wide vertical stripes that run down the front of the shirt. Some have panel stripes on each side, while others have panel stripes on one side and another bold design on the other. You can find a huge number of prints, including Hawaiian prints, florals, flames and musical note designs.
Unlike dress shirts, which have stiff collars, bowling shirts have softer and more relaxed collars. While a handful of bowling-style shirts deviate from this, most have camp collars. These are worn open and flat to the chest with a double notch, similar to Cuban collars but with less pronounced notches. The collar often contrasts the color of the shirt, although certainly not always.
What to look for in a quality bowling shirt
Most bowling shirts are made from either cotton, polyester or a cotton-poly blend. While cotton is more breathable, polyester dries quickly and is wrinkle-resistant. You can also find some bowling shirts in shiny silk and satin fabrics.
You may or may not find a chest pocket on this type of shirt. While a single pocket is more common, double chest pockets aren’t unheard of.
It’s rare to find a shirt of this kind that isn’t machine-washable, but it’s a good idea to double-check so you aren’t stuck hand-washing or dry-cleaning yours.
How much you can expect to spend on a bowling shirt
You can find some basic shirts from around $15-$20, but expect to pay around $40-$100 for those with high-quality cuts, designs and materials. Designer shirts cost as much as $500-$1,000.
Bowling shirt FAQ
What era are bowling shirts from?
A. They originally gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s when there was a huge boom in bowling. These shirts were worn as bowling team uniforms, hence their name. Team bowling shirts usually have the team name on the back and the player’s name above the chest pocket. After time, shirts with a similar cut and style became available for casual wear.
Are bowling shirts in style?
A. This style of shirt seems to be making a comeback with designers, such as Valentino and Wales Bonner, releasing their own takes on the bowling shirt. That said, if you love the look of a garment, it doesn’t matter if it’s in style or not. So, if you have a penchant for bowling shirts, you can wear them proudly long after they go out of vogue.
How do you wear a bowling shirt?
A. There are many ways to style this type of shirt, so you can pick and choose depending on your preferences and personal style. Pair one with shorts for a casual look that’s great for a day at the beach or a cookout. Alternatively, style a bowling shirt with jeans or chinos for a look that’s still relaxed but slightly more put-together. You can wear them buttoned or open over a T-shirt, tank top or even a dress.
What’s the best bowling shirt to buy?
Top bowling shirt
What you need to know: This classic bowling shirt has a square cut, chest pocket and panel stripes.
What you’ll love: You can choose from six color combinations, including black and red and black and gold. It’s machine-washable for easy cleaning. The cotton-poly blend is reasonably breathable but dries faster than pure cotton.
What you should consider: The sizes run large, so check the measurements before buying.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top bowling shirt for the money
What you need to know: If you’re looking for a bold print on a bowling shirt, you won’t be disappointed.
What you’ll love: With a huge range of designs, you can pick anything from plain panel stripes to palm trees, guitars and musical notes. It is machine-washable and air dries quickly. Sizes range from small to 3XL.
What you should consider: While the collar can be worn open, it isn’t a true camp collar.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Good Life Retro Bowling Camp Shirt
What you need to know: The classic panel stripes are complemented by a crisp yet relaxed camp collar.
What you’ll love: It’s made from a cotton-poly blend that’s breathable yet wrinkle-resistant. The shirts are black with a choice of stripes in five colors: off-white, burgundy, red, steel gray and royal blue.
What you should consider: The sizing runs slightly small, so you may need to size up.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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