How to Wear USMC Officer Insignia

by Henry Randolph

Except for the physical training (PT) uniform, all Marine Corps officer uniforms display paired rank insignia on shirt collars, lapels and shoulder epaulettes (flaps). Uniquely, the Marine Corps headpiece, called the garrison cap, carries a single rank insignia. The Marine Corps uniform regulations allow no leeway in how insignia are to be worn. Wearers must accurately measure reference points, precisely place insignia on them and ensure that they are “squared away.”

Items you will need

  • Marine Corps uniform
  • Rank insignia
  • Ruler
  • Pins or scotch tape
Step 1

A. Male Officer's Shirt Insignia

  1. Measure to locate the horizontal center line of one of the collar's sides; mark it with pins or scotch tape.
  2. Along this line, measure 1 inch in from the collar's front edge and mark a vertical line.
  3. Place the insignia so that it is bisected by the horizontal line and it butts up against the vertical 1-inch line.
  4. Perforate the collar with the insignia's post and fix it in place with its pip.
  5. Repeat on the collar's other side.
  6. Make sure the insignias' contours are parallel with the collar edges. Adjust as needed. (See Reference 1 for an illustration.)

B. Female Officer's Shirt Insignia

  1. Measure 1 inch up from the front edge of a lapel and mark a horizontal line across the lapel.
  2. Mark the line's approximate midpoint.
  3. Place the insignia's edge on the 1 inch horizontal line and centered on the midpoint.
  4. Fix in place and repeat procedure on the other lapel. (See the bottom image in Reference 1.)
Step 2

A. Dress and Service Uniform Shoulder Insignia (Field Officers)

  1. Locate and mark the horizontal (lengthwise) center line of the epaulette.
  2. Along this line, measure 3/4 inch in from the epaulette's outside (shoulder) edge.
  3. Place the rank insignia so that the horizontal center line bisects it and that it butts up against the 3/4-inch line.
  4. Perforate the epaulette with the insignia's post and fix in place with its pip.
  5. Repeat for the other epaulette.
  6. Make sure insignias are aligned parallel with the epaulettes' long sides. Adjust as necessary. (See Reference 2 for the illustration.)

B. Dress and Service Uniform Shoulder Insignia (Generals)

  1. Same as for A. above.
  2. Ditto.
  3. On the center line, mark the midpoint between the epaulette's shoulder edge and the button near its opposite edge.
  4. Center the star(s) exactly on the horizontal reference line's and the midpoint's intersection. Make sure only one star tip points at the epaulette button.
  5. Perforate the epaulette with the insignia's post and fix it in place with a pip.
  6. Repeat this procedure on the other epaulette.
  7. Make sure the insignia are aligned parallel with the epaulettes' long sides. Adjust as necessary. (See Reference 2.)
Step 3

Combat Utility Uniform Collar

  1. Center the insignias between the collar edges and seams of the lapels and align them parallel with the deck (ground).
  2. Fix insignias in place with posts and pins.
  3. Adjust as necessary to square them up. (See Reference 3.)
Step 4

Garrison Cap Insignia

  1. Lay the garrison cap on a flat surface, with its right side (wearer's perspective) up.
  2. Locate the curved fold at the front of the cap's body.
  3. Place the insignia so that it bisects the curved fold and is bisected by it.
  4. Perforate the fold with the insignia's post and fasten the pip to it.
  5. Square the insignia up with the cap body's edges. (See Resource 1 for the illustration.)

Tips

  • To have both hands free for measuring and positioning, suspend the uniform item from a clothes hanger. As a final check after placing all insignia, put on the uniform and inspect yourself in a mirror; slight mis-alignments that aren't visible from up close will become apparent.

Photo Credits

About the Author

Henry Randolph began writing as a corporate technical writer in 1997. He has written everything from policy manuals and corporate reports to internal newsletters and intranet content. Randolph's specialties include financial, military, fitness and technical topics. Since retiring in 2007, he has co-edited the "Wayzgoose Gazette," a nonprofit printing museum's newsletter. Randolph holds a master's degree in foreign service from Georgetown University.