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What to Wear to a Bowling Alley: A Guide to Stylish and Comfortable Outfits

  • Reading time:11 mins read

Bowling is a classic American pastime that people of all ages can enjoy. But putting together an appropriate outfit for hitting the lanes can be tricky. You want to look stylish yet move comfortably. The bowling shoes, balls, and lanes also require some consideration regarding safety and practicality.

In this bowling attire guide, we’ll go over tips for choosing shoes, tops, bottoms, accessories, and outerwear so you can assemble a fashionable look perfect for bowling.

Whether you are bowling competitively, with family, friends, a date, or league night, this guide will help you determine just what to wear bowling.

Shoes – The Importance of Proper Bowling Shoes

The most important part of any bowling outfit? The shoes! Standard street shoes can damage bowling lanes and be unsafe for the bowler. The bottoms are not designed to slide smoothly on the lane, which can cause the bowler to stick and fall.

Rental bowling shoes have special soles that slide easily when the foot is moving forward but grip when planted. This controlled slide allows bowlers to approach the foul line gracefully and release the ball smoothly.

Bowling alleys require patrons to wear bowling shoes to protect the lanes. Rental shoes are available in all sizes and offer a smart, budget-friendly option.

If you are a frequent or avid bowler, consider investing in your own pair of bowling shoes. They will feel more comfortable and you can ensure proper fit.

Look for lace-up shoes with a leather or synthetic leather upper for breathability and support. The soles should have a smooth section that contacts the lanes and a non-slide area at the heel and toe.

For kids, opt for shoes with Velcro closures instead of laces. Velcro makes it easy for young bowlers to put the shoes on themselves. Prioritize fit and comfort since growing feet need plenty of room. Bright colors and fun character themes make bowling shoes less boring. Proper fit is key for children to bowl safely and have fun.

Top Picks: Men’s Bowling Shoes

  • Dexter Jack Bowling Shoes – classic lace-up with leather construction
  • Brunswick Edge Men’s Bowling Shoes – athletic style with slide soles
  • Pyramid Howl Men’s Bowling Shoes – affordable option with multiple colors

Top Picks: Women’s Bowling Shoes

  • Dexter Ana Bowling Shoes – synthetic leather with rubber outsoles
  • BSI Women’s #651 Bowling Shoes – lots of colors and designed for slides
  • KR Strikeforce Flyer Bowling Shoes – lightweight and breathable

Tops – Choose Comfortable, Stylish Tops for Bowling

The shirt or top you choose when bowling should allow a free range of motion so you can swing your arm smoothly. Avoid anything too tight in the shoulders or restrictive elsewhere.

Loose, flowing tops can potentially get caught when you swing the ball back and release. Opt for fitted but stretchy tops in breathable, lightweight fabrics.

For men, polo shirts are a smart choice offering both style and comfort. Try moisture-wicking or quick-dry fabrics to stay cool under the bowling alley lights.

Bold stripes or color blocking add visual interest. Button-down shirts also work well untucked or layered under a vest or jacket. Opt for stretchy cotton blends so the shoulders don’t bind. Crew neck or v-neck t-shirts provide a casual option.

Women have numerous stylish top options for bowling that won’t hinder movement. Stretchy tank tops allow the arms to move freely. Add a coordinating shrug or kimono if you get chilly in the lane area.

Fitted short-sleeved tees in soft knits pair well with jeans. Go for a retro bowling shirt with buttons for a cute theme look. Don’t forget a camisole under sheer top layers.

For kids, almost any t-shirt or casual top will work. Focus on comfortable cotton fabrics that won’t chafe if they ride up. Fun graphics featuring bowling pins, balls, or characters make standard tee and jersey styles more fun.

Bottoms – The Best Pants, Shorts, and Skirts for Bowling

Choosing the right pair of bottoms completes your bowling outfit. Look for pants or skirts that allow a full range of motion so you can lunge and swing freely. Stretchy fabrics with some spandex or lycra blended in a move best. Avoid pants that are very loose or flowy since the fabric could trip you up.

Men should choose stretchy jeans or joggers for optimal comfort and mobility. Dark washes pair well with most top layers. Joggers in cotton blends work well, providing room to move.

Flat-front chino shorts are appropriate when the weather is warm. Sweat-wicking athletic shorts are fine for casual family bowling.

For women, skinny jeans have enough stretch to allow bending and lunging. Yoga pants or leggings also afford plenty of stretch if you find jeans restrictive.

Bowling skirts can be cute but avoid longer lengths that could impede your approach. Go shorter than knee-length or add slits for mobility. Leggings with mini skirts or skirts on top provide a comfortable free range of motion.

Kids can wear just about anything comfortable on their bottom half. Stretchy jeans, joggers, leggings, shorts, and skirts all work well. Just make sure there is room to move without restriction. And consider fabrics that won’t easily show stains, as little ones may take a tumble or have snacks.

Accessories – Bowling Fashion and Safety Accessories

Certain accessories beyond your outfit can be helpful when bowling. Gloves specifically designed for bowling have padded fingers and help the bowling ball release smoothly, protecting against calluses and finger pain. They take some getting used to but can improve your bowling game.

Wrist supports also provide joint protection for avid bowlers. Special bowling bags are useful for transporting shoes, gloves, towels, and other bowling gear. Look for bags with ventilated shoe compartments to contain odors. Stylish bowling pin bags add some fun flair.

For women, hair elastics, scrunchies, and headbands keep hair out of your face as you bowl. Patterned or sparkly versions match your style. Arm sleeves can add flair while absorbing sweat. Bold jewelry completes the look but avoid dangly earrings or necklaces that could swing as you bowl.

Kids can get creative with colorful gloves, hair accessories, jewelry, and temporary bowling pin tattoos. Just avoid anything dangerous near the heavy balls and fast lanes. Also, have kids remove jewelry that could scratch the bowling balls or get caught when fingers are released.

Outerwear – Stylish Jackets, Hoodies and Vests for Bowling

Bowling alleys tend to be cooler than room temperature to keep sweat down. But the pin areas also see plenty of action that can make you warm up fast. Having versatile layers allows you to adjust to the temperature changes.

Men can sport hoodies over their tee or polo for easy warmth when needed. Look for cotton blends that resist odor after active bowling sessions.

Cardigan sweaters also work over nicer button-downs. Vests — especially bowling-themed ones — add class over dressier shirts. Lightweight windbreakers or athletic jackets offer breathable layers.

For women, cropped hoodies and zip-up track jackets won’t impede arm movements. Longer dusters or knit cardigans still allow room to swing.

For more warmth, try quilted vests or puffer jackets in shiny fabrics to complete the fun bowling outfit. Or stick with your favorite denim or leather jacket. Just avoid heavy materials that could weigh you down.

Kids love character hoodies and colorful windbreakers to personalize their style. Younger kids may need help rolling up long sleeves to allow full wrist mobility. Breathable layers help them stay cozy yet comfortable while bowling.


Now you have plenty of tips for creating comfortable, fashionable, and functional outfits perfect for your next bowling outing.

By following this guide when choosing bowling-appropriate shoes, tops, bottoms, accessories, and layers, you will look on point and bowl your best game.

Most importantly, have fun, and don’t worry about splits or gutter balls. The important thing is enjoying time with family and friends. With the right ensemble, you can look good and feel great while bowling.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should a girl wear to a bowling date?

For a bowling date, women can wear skinny jeans, yoga pants, or a skirt with a cute top. Go for something stylish yet comfortable you can move in. Bring a jacket in case it gets chilly. Mini skirts or dresses work for a flirty style. Flat shoes are best so you can approach the lane smoothly.

Do you need socks for bowling?

Socks are recommended when bowling to absorb foot perspiration and provide a little cushioning. Low-cut, ankle socks work well with bowling shoes. Some find the rental shoes uncomfortable without socks. Bring your own socks or buy a cheap pack at the alley.

Can I wear shorts for bowling?

Yes, shorts are completely acceptable attire when going bowling. For men, flat-front chino shorts work well. Women can wear jean cutoffs, athletic shorts, or a skort. Just avoid very short shorts, as you will be bending over frequently. Stretchy shorts allow a full range of motion.

What shoes to wear for bowling?

You must wear standard bowling alley shoes on the lanes. They have special soles that slide on the approach but grip at the line. Bowling in regular shoes is unsafe and can damage the lanes. Never wear your bowling shoes outside, as they will pick up dirt and rocks that can scratch the lanes.

Is bowling an awkward first date?

Bowling can make for a fun, casual first-date activity. It gives you something active to do together and bond over friendly competition. Make it less awkward by choosing a time the alley won’t be too crowded. Weekday afternoons can be nice. Plan an activity like drinks or dessert afterward so you have time to talk.

Is bowling an awkward date?

Bowling doesn’t have to be an awkward date if you keep it fun and lighthearted. Laugh together about gutter balls and enjoy the spirit of competition. Avoid critiquing your date’s technique. Focus on conversation during breaks and eating snacks. Activities like mini golf or arcades in the bowling alley help break the ice.

What is basic bowling etiquette?

Basic bowling etiquette includes letting bowlers on either side go before you approach to avoid crowding. Stay off the lane itself. Don’t bowl if the pin machine is cycling. Only food and drink are far from the lanes. Say excuse me if crossing lanes. Clap for others’ strikes and spares.

Can I wear jeans to bowling?

Jeans make perfectly acceptable attire when going bowling. For men and women, a pair of nice-fitting denim jeans paired with a polo or nice top creates a casual look. Stretchy skinny jeans allow more mobility. Just avoid super baggy jeans that could trip you or get caught when bowling.

Can you wear open toed shoes to bowling?

Open-toed shoes like flip-flops are not permitted for actual bowling. However, you can wear open-toed shoes or sandals in the bowling alley when not on the lanes. Switch into bowling shoes at your lane before bowling. Wear the open shoes around the arcade, bar, etc.