With examples going back to Ancient Rome, The Epaulette is a style of Uniform decoration – used to denote Rank or affiliation with a specific Military Unit. They were most used during the 18th and 19th Centuries in most World Armies. Originally, Epaulettes were devised by The French ribbons worn on either one or both shoulders – and attached to the Outer most garment of a Soldier’s uniform. By design, they were used to identify Officer or Non-Commissioned Officers of a National or Kingdom's Military. Design and adoption were quickly made by most European Armies. Developed designs began to include a form fitting Device which consisted of a heavy cloth or thin wooden board (covered in cloth). Fringes and coloring were added more for fashion than practical Military application. Bright colors were soon abandoned for Silver or Gold worsted Braid and even thin, stretched Metal wiring. Often actual Gold or Silver strands were used (Bullion).
Eventually, Unit Identification were added – which greatly helped identify Units, Branch Types and their assigned Personnel in The Field. Epaulettes were most often attached by sewing directly to the Uniform, although some examples were “buttoned” on. Epaulettes were often adopted by Aristocracy who had served or held “Hereditary” Title in a Regiment or Military Organization. The same was often adopted by Royalty (Kings, Princes etc). The initial design of The Epaulette would continue as an integral component of Military Uniforms well into the 20th Century, in some Nations. Used mostly in Ceremonial Dress today, The Epaulette was the original form of The Shoulder Board – which is used by most Armies today to identify Rank.