All About the Shoulder Cord

DrillMasterAsk DrillMaster, Drill Teams, Honor Guard, Instructional 5 Comments

 How to Attach a Shoulder Cord or Aiguillette

What’s a Shoulder Cord?

Modesto 2016 (30)

Just a standard braided rope that fits onto the shoulder either underneath an epaulet (picture below, #452) or above the epaulet on the outside shoulder seam (picture below, #484SL). The cord above was specially made for the Modesto Fire Department Honor Guard by Shoulder Cords Unlimited. Glendale Paradestore also customizes cords to suit your needs.

The enlisted Air Force uniform has the ‘problem’ of not having epaulettes on the shoulder any more and still many JROTC units use the older style ropes that fit underneath the epaulette and are fastened to the epaulette’s button. The newer AF uniform does not look good with the old style rope, since the rope was specifically made for having a button there on the shoulder. The solution for JROTC units is the “Shaker Knot” cord (picture below, #484SL) not hiking the standard shoulder cord up underneath the uniform’s collar.

What’s an Aiguillette?

Pronounced “ay-gwee-et.” An aiguillette is a more ornate shoulder cord. A standard shoulder cord as many call them does not have a tassel, while aiguillettes have one or even two tassels. They can be quite ornate with multiple cords on the inside and outside of the arm, as well.

In this picture above, #638R is the USAF Enlisted Aiguillette. Unfortunately, in this picture directly above, Glendale has this cord improperly placed as it never goes underneath the epaulette (it’s an enlisted cord, only). The USAF Officer’s Aiguillette (#638RO, which is my design, by the way) does go underneath an epaulette, since the officer uniform is the only one to have epaulettes. The picture below shows a friend of mine from when we were on the Spangdahlem Air Base Honor Guard. This is how to properly wear the USAF Enlisted Honor Guard Aiguillette.

A shoulder cord or aiguillette is worn on either shoulder, check with your unit. It is also completely up to your unit on who gets what and what color is used.

Pinning the Cord and the Tassels (“Nose Pickers”)

Standard Shoulder Cord: Pinning is not really necessary since there is not much slack in the cord when one moves.

“Shaker Knot” Cords: You really need to pin this type of shoulder cord from the inside of the blouse (“jacket” for all of you non-honor guard types) or shirt. Pin at 9 and 3 o’clock. Pinning any lower will make the cord bend inward; you want it to hang straight down.

how to pin a shoulder cord

The Tassels: Pin the knot of this rope from the inside of the blouse/shirt. Whether on a “Shaker knot” or standard shoulder cord, make sure it is hanging straight down and pin it. This will make sure the thing doesn’t knock your teeth out!


Did you know? shoulder cords are made by macrame a form of knotting. All macrame is knotting, but all knotting is not macrame.

Comments 5

    1. Post
  1. I would like to purchase one, USAF , Shoulder cord. It is very important too my restoration of vintage family uniform.

    1. Post
  2. Pingback: Properly Attaching the USAF Honor Guard Aiguillette | The DrillMaster

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *