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What is an Epaulette?

A. A small woodland creature, native to Canada

B. The French word for an ‘Estate Agent’

C. An ornamental shoulder decoration

Well of course the answer is C, those other options were ridiculous. But I had never heard of them before joining GF Europe. Now I have become somewhat of an expert in all things epaulette related. Everyone has seen an epaulette before but do not necessarily know what they are called or the purpose they serve. It’s time to change that with some epaulette education!

An ‘Epaulette’ is a general term for a type of ornamental shoulder piece or decoration used as insignia of rank by armed forces and other organizations. They are fastened to the shoulder strap parallel to the shoulder seem.

It is thought that the earliest form of epaulette were ‘pteruges’; decorative skirts of leather worn by ancient Roman soldiers on both their waists and shoulders. But the real origin of the epaulette can be traced back to the 17th Century. They were originally bunches of ribbons on military coats, serving both a decorative and functional purpose as they prevented shoulder belts from slipping. This established the basic design and it then evolved over the following centuries.


Random Fact: 'Monkey handles' were a common 19th Century slang term for epaulettes that developed in British colonies of the African sub continent. British officers would often take baby monkeys as pets and the monkeys would commonly seize the epaulettes as a means of hanging on to their owner. This behaviour mimicked their holding onto parents in the wild, isn’t that lovely?!

These days epaulettes are less decorational, you won't see many big gold epaulettes with bullion fringe when your out and about. They are now mainly used for ceremonial purposes. You will however have seen the rather more discrete 'shoulder board' or 'slider epaulette'. These are used in all sorts of organisations; including the police, military, paramedics, security officers and border patrols just to mention a few. They clearly show the public their level of rank and authority over both subordinates and in some cases the general public.

At GF we have 30 years of making epaulettes giving us the experience and expertise to meet all your requirements, from supply and customisation through to branding, we can do it all. We make epaulettes for all sorts of organisation that serve the people of this nation from paramedics to security guards.

If you have any questions or queries about our epaulette making service or would like to discuss specific designs with our friendly team then get in touch today, call GF on 02920 755733 today and we will run through all your requirements and advise on the best options available to you.