How to wear military medals and ribbons while in uniform is ordinarily covered by the regulations of each branch of service. For example, an Army soldier can get answers about how to wear military medals and ribbons by reviewing Army Regulation 670-1.
Uniform service regulations stipulate in great detail how to wear military medals and ribbons. A quick online search will turn up a uniform regulation, but when in doubt, turn to the experts and ask a non-commissioned officer in the chain of command if you can’t find it.
But if you still have questions about how to wear military medals and ribbons, here are a few general tips. We strongly encourage you to review service specific regulations on how to wear military medals and ribbons.
- Formal evening attire such as tuxedos and formal evening jackets, require the use of miniature medals and badges. Ribbons are not worn on this uniform.
- The use of large medals and badges is reserved for daytime attire, but ensure not to wear large medals and ribbons at the same time. The exception is the wear of unit ribbons on the right side on the Army uniform.
- When wearing civilian attire, ensure you comply with the same rules as if you were in uniform. Mini medals go on a civilian tuxedo (formal wear) and do not wear medals or badges on casual clothing, like a polo shirt.
- Follow the order of precedence when wearing your awards.
- Many retirees choose to wear just their highest award’s lapel pin when in business attire. Some also wear small badges. There are no real regulations governing these acts, just exercise common sense and do not bring discredit to you or your hard-earned awards. Remember, lapel pins are worn on the left lapel (just like medals on a tuxedo). And it is generally accepted that you can wear one, but not several.
When in doubt, check your specific branch’s regulations for guidance on how to wear military medals and ribbons.