The subject of Air Force shoulder marks can be slightly confusing at first because they are frequently referred to as “epaulets,” when in fact epaulets are the loops found on jackets, shirt, sweaters, and coats (or at least that’s what they are called in Air Force uniform regulations). Shoulder marks are slid into place over the epaulets, which are then buttoned to secure the insignia.

The Air Force specifies the wear of shoulder marks by Officers on a wide variety of uniform types. For males, these include on the long- and short-sleeve blue shirts worn with the Men’s Service Dress (Class A), Men’s Semi-Formal Dress, and the Men’s Blue Service Uniform (Class B). Female officers wear shoulder marks on the epaulets of shirts and blouses worn with the Women’s Service Dress (Class A), Maternity Service Dress (Class A), Women’s Semi-Formal Dress, and Women’s Blue Service Uniform (Class B), and the Maternity Jumper.

Shoulder marks are also mandated for an array of outerwear garments, including the Topcoat, dark blue pullover, blue cardigan, and white cardigan (the latter is worn only with the Maternity Jumper and long- and short-sleeve blouses).

More USAF 2nd Lieutenant Insignias and DevicesFrom 1982 to 2006, Senior Noncommissioned Officers were allowed to wear their insignia in the form of shoulder marks on the blue uniform (i.e., the Class B uniform), but changes in the arrangement of chevrons eliminated any need for the SNCO insignia to be worn on the shoulders of Service or Dress uniforms. Since October 2006, SNCOs wear shoulder marks only on sweaters.

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