Commonly called epaulettes (which is often spelled “epaulets”), First Lieutenant shoulder marks are worn on a broad array of garments including the black pullover sweater (“Wooly Pully”) and black Cardigan, the Maternity shirt, and the long- and short-sleeve shirts authorized for wear with the Army Service Uniform (both Class A and B variants).

In keeping with the specifications found in DA 670-1, we offer shoulder marks in a Large and a Small size “to accommodate differences in the manufacturing of shoulder loops on shirts and sweaters,” and consequently all personnel may wear either of the sizes with any garment. These two sizes generally conform to the dimensions of the Male and Female sizes the Army used for shoulder marks up until 1996, but this is merely an observation and, at best, a generic guideline. It in no way is meant to imply that the Small size will always offer the best fit for female First Lieutenants or the Large size is the best choice for male officers.

Adopted from the British Army system, the rank of First Lieutenant as used in the Continental Army was considered a “subaltern,” a rank subordinate to that of Captain and one that was identified with a green cockade worn on a tricorn hat. Beginning in 1780, First Lieutenants and other subalterns would be identified also by their uniform (in regimental colors) and a single gold epaulette attached to the left shoulder, contrasting them from Captains (gold epaulette on the right shoulder), Majors (epaulette on right shoulder, a strap on the left) and Colonels and higher field officers (epaulettes on both shoulders).

In 1821, the Army ended the use of cockades and replaced it with a system of chevrons for Captains, subalterns, and Noncommissioned Officers. Fifteen years later, in 1836, the Army introduced a single bar as the rank insignia for First Lieutenants and two bars for Captain; the bars were colored either gold or silver based on the border of the uniform’s shoulder straps (which was in turn based on branch). The bars on the insignia of Captains and First Lieutenants were gold and remained that color (despite changes to some strap borders) until 1872, when they were changed to silver so they would match the insignia of senior officers.

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As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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Salute Industries Inc, proud maker of The Salute Uniforms.
105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263.