No uniform is complete without ranking stripes and they can vary from airline to airline depending on preferred color, size and width. Get the all the insights to pilot ranking stripes and how to incorporate them in your uniform. 

Show your rank

The modern day pilot look took its beginning with Pan Am introducing new uniforms inspired by naval officers, instead of the earlier Airforce-inspired appearance.

The new commercial look showcased the pilot ranking stripes on the lower sleeves.

The same placement as seen on most uniforms today, while modern day pilots also emphasize their rank with shoulder epaulettes featuring ranking stripes.   

Ranking stripes on the sleeves of the pilot uniform jacket

Epaulettes on the shoulders of the coat

How to rank

One. Two. Three. Or four stripes.

Not five. Not six. One to four.

Four and three stripes highlight the flight deck:

  • The captain wears four stripes
  • The first officer is allocated three stripes

Sometimes, you will see a senior first officer with three stripes and a first officer with two stripes. However, most carriers favor the above scenario.

Most airlines also use two stripes to identify the second officer; however, occasionally two stripes may indicate the lead flight attendant.

Pilots in training and flight attendants may wear one stripe depending on carrier.

We rarely create flight attendant uniforms with ranking stripes as we use other insignia or features to indicate cabin crew rank.

Colour it up

Silver - Gold - Champagne - Light gold - Grey - Dark silver. 

Options are plenty when choosing color for your pilot ranking stripes.

Our clients often opt for a color designed specifically to their uniform.

Icelandair uniforms come with a custom gold color.

Jazeera Airways use gold braids to complement their pilot uniforms.

Maersk Air Cargo have gone for our standard silver.

The key takeaway is to align the color of your pilot ranking stripes with the look of your uniform to ensure a perfect color match and a professional pilot jacket.  

Also, do not forget the epaulettes. They also come in several colors.

Black and navy are common colors, while dark grey is also an option.

The takeaway is to align your preferred colors to make sure epaulettes and ranking stripes match.

Size it up

The same applies for the width of your stripes, as well as the length and width of your epaulettes.

Be careful of making stripes too wide or too narrow – and ensure the size of your epaulettes match the shoulder straps on your uniform shirt.  

Not only stripe width matters. The position of the stripes is crucial as well. What you need to get right is the distance from the hem of the sleeves to lowest stripe – and then the distance between the 3 or 4 stripes. You want this right as stripes that are out of position makes the look unprofessional. 

Finally, there is a never-ending debate whether the correct ranking stripes extend all the way around the sleeve or they are limited to the upper half of the sleeve. What is more correct we cannot decide, but the fact is that a vast majority of airlines prefer stripes only on the upper half. And there are many good reasons for this. Visually, the difference is barely noticeable. Jackets shown above have stripes on upper half only. The sleeves are softer, draping is nicer, lighter and more comfortable – and, of course, it is less expensive to add.

A lot of thought and consideration should go into creating the perfect look and choosing the right pilot ranking stripes, along with epaulettes, for your next uniform.

At the Olino webshop you are able to order and customize your Pilot jacket with golden or silver ranking stripes.

Reach out if you need any assistance. 

Pilot ranking stripes on the sleeves of the jacket