For Noncommissioned Officers like a First Sergeant E-8, shoulder marks are worn on more types of garments than any other type of grade insignia. Attached to shoulder loops, First Sergeant shoulder marks—commonly known as “epaulets,” frequently spelled “epaulettes”—are authorized for wear on the Black All-Weather Coat, Black Cardigan, Black Windbreaker, and the Black or Heritage Green Pullover Sweater. They are also worn on the long- and short-sleeve shirts worn with the Service uniforms (AGSU and ASU), and the Maternity shirt worn by expectant Soldiers.

Although the terms “Male” and “Female” have been replaced by “Large” and “Small” regarding the two sizes of shoulder marks, as a general rule female Soldiers will typically find the Small size makes for a better fit. But of course there are some female soldiers for whom Large will provide a better fit, just as there are male Soldiers for whom the Small size will offer the best appearance on their uniform garment. Another factor to consider when selecting a size is that the precise dimensions of a garment’s shoulder loops can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

For all these reasons, regulations allow all personnel to wear either size of shoulder mark provided the rank insignia is clearly visible. In the case of pregnant Soldiers wearing the Maternity tunic over the Maternity shirt, the tunic’s shoulder piece is passed under the loop so the shoulder mark can be securely attached and clearly seen.

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