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Penner's Retro Camp Shirts


Men's Bowling-Style Shirts

Men's bowling-style shirts are some of the most iconic pieces of clothing in America today. They first hit the mainstream American clothing culture in the 1950s, and you can still see people wearing them today. As a type of camp shirt, their design offers ultimate comfort and gives wearers a unique look. While they're a quintessential look associated with bowling leagues, you can wear them in several other contexts for a traditional, yet modern, appearance. 

Learn more about what makes bowling and camp shirts so unique. You might also want to know more about their origins and how you can style these shirts to make you look your best. 

Camp Shirts and Bowling Shirts: What Makes Them Unique?

Sometimes referred to as Cuban shirts or aloha shirts, camp shirts all feature a one-piece, double-notched collar. Sewing this soft collar to the shirt's body makes it lie flat. Occasionally, camp shirts will feature a loop closure or a top button, but most don't have either. The flat collar is the most defining feature of the camp shirt that separates it from other collared shirts. 

Alongside their distinctive collar, these shirts also have short sleeves, a button-up front, a box-cut fit and a straight hem. This design makes them breezy and perfect for hot climates and temperatures, allowing wearers to stay cool and comfortable. Usually, clothing companies will make these shirts out of lightweight materials, such as viscose, lyocell, silk, cotton and linen.

Men's bowling shirts are a type of camp shirt featuring the same one-piece, flat collar. They also feature an identical boxy fit, short sleeves and a button-up front. These shirts distinguish themselves from other, more standard, camp shirts by always coming with two-color block patterns that give them a distinctive, retro '50s appearance. Typically, men's retro bowling shirts consist of cotton or a cotton and polyester blend.

Vintage bowling shirts never have any patterns other than those featuring contrasting piping as accents or heavy solid lines. For example, a classic bowling shirt is white with a black collar and front panel. If a men's camp-collar shirt has another print or pattern, like polka dots, plaid or paisley, it's not a bowling shirt.

The Origins of Camp Shirts and Bowling Shirts


Camp shirts originated somewhere in the 19th century, but they didn't begin influencing North American style until the 1950s. Some believe the shirts first came from the Philippines, while others believe they originated in Cuba. Regardless of this style's origins, it's more likely the Cuban men's camp collar shirt is the version that made it a popular style in the U.S.

Before men's camp shirts became a style icon, Cuban people wore them while working outdoors. These work shirts, called guayaberas, featured a loose collar and a relaxed fit to help people stay cooler when working outside, even in the most blazing temperatures. 

In the 1930s, the guayabera started to shift from a work shirt to a stylish casual shirt. As a precursor to the eventual camp shirt, this more fashionable version of the guayabera had a broader, longer collar than the better-known camp shirt of the 1950s. 

The camp shirt we know today hit the United States in the 1950s, as exiled Cubans began to make new homes in New York City and Miami. Americans quickly fell in love with the casual guayaberas, ushering in the camp style. The men's retro camp shirt represented a refreshing alternative to the more formal, traditional American shirt-and-tie style of the day. 

Once the camp shirt hit the mainstream in the 1950s, clothing companies began to produce bowling shirts. These shirts put a spin on the camp style by coming with two-tone color schemes and heavy solid lines. Many youths in the 1950s loved the bowling shirt's look and relaxed fit, and they wore them to bowling allies, where professional and amateur bowlers still wear them today. Men's bowling shirts also became popular to wear at bars, malt shops, football games and dance clubs.

How to Style Camp Shirts and Bowling Shirts

Today, camp and bowling shirts are enjoying a renewed turn in the spotlight. If you want to look great in this traditional attire and give it an attractive modern spin, you have various styling options. By knowing more about styling men's retro bowling shirts, you can wear them in various contexts and look perfectly at home, sending the message you know how to dress.

Check out some of the primary camp and bowling shirt styles below.

  • Classic: When you want to go for a timeless camp or bowling shirt look, you can combine the shirt with chino shorts or linen pants. You can make the look even classier by wearing a straw hat to keep your eyes shaded on a bright summer day and add an extra flair of style. For footwear, you can wear Stacy Adams sandals, leather loafers or boat shoes.
  • Upscale: If you want to look a little more formal while still feeling comfortable, you can pair a bowling or camp shirt with a khaki cotton suit. To complete the outfit, add a straw hat, such as a Pinzano Milan Straw hat, and leather loafers, such as Stacy Penner shoes
  • Date night: When you're going on a date, you can throw on a men's retro bowling or camp shirt and a sports jacket. To complete the look, go with a lightweight jacket made out of silk or linen. This casual, relaxed style is perfect for impressing dates and staying comfortable on a warm summer night. You can wear a pair of Stacy Penner shoes, a straw hat and linen pants to step up your fashion.
  • Weekend: If you want a casual look for the weekend that goes a step above a T-shirt and jeans, choose jeans and a camp or bowling shirt. Next, throw on a denim overshirt to dress it up a little more while maintaining an easygoing appearance. For shoes, you can wear a pair of white canvas sneakers. 
  • Vacation: Linen shorts and a breathable bowling shirt never go out of style when you're on vacation. For shoes, slip into a pair of sandals, boat shoes or canvas sneakers. If you're planning on spending time in the sun, don a straw hat to shield your eyes. The overall goal is comfort, so choose your accessories based on how relaxed you'll feel in them.

Choose Penner's for Your Retro Camp and Bowling Shirts

At Penner's, we carry high-quality men's bowling and camp shirts to help you look and feel your best. When you turn to us for your bowling shirts, our in-house tailors will ensure you get the perfect, custom fit at no extra cost. If you order online, you'll receive free USPS shipping on orders over $99, excluding hats. Along with carrying men's bowling shirts, we also have short-sleeved guayaberas, straw hats and Stacy Penner shoes, among many other options. 

Browse our selection of men's retro bowling and camp shirts above. You can also visit us at our store located in downtown San Antonio, Texas. 

If you have any questions, please free to contact us

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