Of all the items in a Sailor’s sea bag, there is none that is as safe from being altered or eliminated by uniform regulation changes than the black neckerchief. The reason is simple: Since the neckerchief is today merely decorative rather than functional, the only thing the Navy could gain by eliminating it is enmity.

Worn by Sailors with both the Service Dress Blue and Service Dress White uniforms, the black neckerchief traces its origins back some five centuries, when it was worn as a sweat rag around the forehead or neck—but in an emergency it could also be used as a bandage to dress a wound or as a tourniquet to staunch a life-threatening loss of blood. The distinctive square knot was introduced by the Navy in 1817 to give the neckerchiefs a uniform appearance.

As with other aspects of the Navy’s “Crackerjack” Service Dress uniforms, the neckerchief’s history has been imbued with a bit of legend, namely that sailors as chose the color black as a way of mourning the death of British Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. Of course, there is no original source for this bit of lore, and it’s hard to imagine American Sailors being so enamored of a British commander that they would pay constant homage to him (the neckerchief was something worn daily at that time). The real reason that black was the color chosen for the 36-inch square piece of fabric is that it does an excellent job of concealing stains and dirt.

About us

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.