Epaulette (/ˈɛpəlɛt/; also spelled epaulet) is a type of ornamental shoulder piece or decoration used as insignia of rank by armed forces and other organizations. In several European armies, epaulettes are also worn by all ranks of elite or ceremonial units when on parade.
Epaulettes are fastened to the shoulder by a shoulder strap or “passant”, a small strap parallel to the shoulder seam, and the button near the collar, or by laces on the underside of the epaulette passing through holes in the shoulder of the coat. Colloquially, any shoulder straps with marks are also called epaulettes. The placement of the epaulette, its color and the length and diameter of its bullion fringe are used to signify the wearer’s rank. At the join of the fringe and the shoulderpiece is often a metal piece in the form of a crescent. Although originally worn in the field, epaulettes are now normally limited to dress or ceremonial military uniforms.