The current system of gold lace stripes to denote the rank of officers in the United States Navy traces its roots back to 1852. Of the four commissioned officer ranks at the time, three were identified by gold lace stripes that were three-quarters of an inch thick: Lieutenants wore a single stripe, Commanders wore two, and Captains sported three. For those at the lowest officer rank of Master, three large cuff buttons were used instead of any stripes or braids.

After a system of narrow quarter-inch stripes was introduced during the Civil War (along with the placement of a star above the stripes), new sleeve insignia were authorized in March, 1969 based upon a system of half-inch and quarter-inch stripes used in combination to denote advancement in rank. Although the system was very similar to what is used today on sleeves, hard shoulder boards, and soft shoulder boards, there were some tweaks to be made as certain ranks fell by the wayside. The Master rank was replaced as the lowest by Ensign, and Lieutenant junior grade was inserted between Ensign and Lieutenant.

When the system was first put in place, the rank Captain was displayed with three half-inch stripes, while Commanders had two half-inch stripes and one quarter-inch stripe. Within a few months, however, the Captain’s insignia increased to four (as it still is today), and Commanders were given three half-inch stripes.

And while it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of civilians couldn’t tell you a Naval officer’s rank by looking at the stripes on a sleeve or shoulder board, almost all of them know that the more stripes there are, the greater the authority and responsibility.

More Line Officer Insignia and Accoutrements
Cap Device
Gold Star Sleeve Device
Line Officer Hard Shoulder Boards
Gold Belt Buckle
Gold Coat Buttons 
Cuff Links
Tie Tack / Clasp

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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105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263.