How to Wear Military Medals on Formal Wear

Updated April 17, 2017

Strict codes govern the display of medals and ribbons when dressing in military formal wear. These decorations denote seniority, awards and special recognition and are symbols of great pride and honour. The awards can be displayed during parades, reviews, inspections and funerals, as well as at ceremonial and social occasions, such as weddings or balls. The order of the medals as well as the positioning is set by military guidelines specific to the wearer's rank and division of the military.

Put on the medals in the proper order of precedence from the wearer's right to left. The order is as follows: U.S. military decorations, U.S. unit awards, U.S. nonmilitary decorations, Good Conduct Medal, U.S. campaign and service medals, U.S. service and training ribbons, U.S. Merchant Marine awards, foreign military decorations, foreign unit awards, non-U.S. service awards, state awards for ARNG soldiers.

Wear the medals on the left lapel of formal civilian attire or on the Army white and blue uniforms, below the full-sized medals.

Pin miniature medals side by side when there are four or fewer in the same row.

Overlap the medals if necessary; if you do so, keep the overlap even and consistent and do not cover more than half of any medal.

Center the miniature medals on the left lapel of the mess and evening mess uniforms. The medals should not extend beyond the lapel's edge.

Wear the medals above the left breast pocket in the same position as the full-sized medals on the blue and white uniforms.

Wear one star, if applicable, on the left breast of the jacket.

Wear one neck badge, if applicable, on a ribbon below the bow tie.

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About the Author

Michelle Barry graduated from Salve Regina University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Since then, she has worked as a reporter for the Wilbraham-Hampden Times, an editor for Month9Books and Evolved Publishing, editor and has spent the past seven years in marketing and graphic design. She also has an extensive background in dance.