What Do the Colors of Different U.S. Army Shoulder Cords Signify?

Qualified U.S. Army infantrymen and Army National Guard soldiers wear an infantry blue shoulder cord on the right shoulder of the uniform coat or shirt. Servicemen who serve as aides-de-camp or military aides to the White House wear golden cords called aiguillettes.

The appearance of U.S. Army uniforms is dictated by Army Regulation 670-1. These regulations stipulate that members of the U.S. Army infantry wear an infantry blue shoulder cord. The cord is formed by a series of square knots around a center cord, and secured under the right arm and over the right shoulder by a button on the right shoulder loop. Qualified infantrymen receive this cord after graduating from U.S. Army Infantry Center.

The U.S. Army dress aiguillette is a slightly more ornate gold or gold-colored knotted cord that is worn with the Army Service uniform. It is worn on the left shoulder by aides-de-camp and attachés, and on the right shoulder by aides assigned to members of the White House, first family, cabinet and foreign dignitaries.

Members of other branches of the service, including the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, wear both shoulder cords and dress aiguillettes of different colors. In each of these branches, the color of a cord or aiguillette signifies rank, training level or expertise.