Dress Regulations

South African Military Veteran Organisation of the USA (SAMVOUSA) Dress Regulations

SAMVOUSA Dress Attire Order Form

There can be no doubt that SAMVOUSA Members are proud of their legacy as South African Defence Force and Police Veterans. Our pride is judged, in part, by the manner in which we dress and conduct ourselves during public parades and services globally. Therefore, a neat and uniform appearance by all SAMVOUSA Veterans contributes to building that special pride and esprit de corps among our members.

Remembrance parades and associated services are prolifically broadcast on television and via social media therefore we owe it as a matter of pride and respect that care is taken in being properly attired at all times. The adage “Modesty is best” should be embraced at all times when wearing non official awards and association emblems, our members should not embellish themselves unduly.

It is SAMVOUSA’s preferred position that any device, lapel badge or tie pin which contains or depicts a national flag emblem of any sort other than SAMVOUSA regalia or official issue SADF/SANDF, SAP/SAPS awards and proficiency badges not be worn.

Members are forbidden to wear medals, decorations and awards which have not been formally issued either during active service, Defence HQ Ceremonial Pretoria or by another Veteran’s organisation recognised by SAMVOUSA. Service medals, decorations and awards are readily available commercially, and, even if a member is entitled to (or feels entitled to) wear such an emblem – it is not acceptable to do so unless they have been formally issued!

Members are advised to follow the available channels in obtaining outstanding entitlements by making enquiry through the SAMVOUSA Website http://samvousa.org/contact-us or by contacting their Regional Chairman direct. Whilst acquiring these items is a slow and painstaking process and bearing in mind that results can’t be guaranteed – simply wearing an unauthorised emblem cannot be condoned.

To ensure member compliance with these principles, standards have been set for dress and conduct. It is mandatory for members to ensure that they are appropriately dressed when wearing SAMVOUSA “kit” and to assist others when noticing something out of place.

It is the responsibility of the National, Regional and Club Masters-at-Arms to ensure that our members are informed and correct at all times.

Set out below is the Dress Order governing how, when and where we should dress for a wide range of occasions Veterans may find themselves attending the main focus being Memorial Day, Armistice Day and formal dinners. We have adopted the SADF Dress Numbers as a reference for each applicable dress.

Dress Order

Part One

  • 1) Dress Code Number 1A:
    Full Ceremonial Review worn on Memorial Day, the last Monday in May on which we remember all who served and died in war and on operational service.

    • a) SAMVOUSA Green Beret (SA Infantry green).
      • i) SAMVOUSA cap badge.
      • ii) Corps balkie, with 5mm spacing between beret selvedge and balkie.
      • iii) 5mm spacing between balkie and cap badge.
      • iv) The beret is worn with the SAMVOUSA badge above the left eye and a finger width spacing above the left eye brow.
      • v) The beret size adjustment ribbons at the rear of the headpiece should be tied off and ends neatly tucked into the beret seam.
    • b) Black or dark Navy Blazer with SAMVOUSA issue badge on left pocket.
      • i) Non-veteran members to trim off the word “Veteran” on badge issue.
    • c) White shirt.
      • i) During cold weather a plain fine knit white, black or navy jersey may be worn under the blazer.
    • d) SAMVOUSA issue Association tie, tied in a manner so that the point of the tie is located more or less level with the belt buckle.
    • e) Grey flannel trousers for men and Grey skirt or trousers for ladies.
    • f) Black belt with a modest buckle.
    • g) Black socks.
    • h) Black shoes, preferably lace up.
    • i) Left Chest;
      • i) Only official issue full size service medals and decorations to be worn on the left chest, in the correct order and with the correct ribbons attached.
      • ii) Commemorative medals such as the South African Service Cross (SASC) and the SAMVOUSA Veterans Medal (SVM) are NOT to be worn on the left chest.
      • iii) Either Swing or Court mount format is acceptable.
      • iv) Medals should be worn roughly 20cm below shoulder seam (measured in line with the lapel extremity) and in such a way that the SAMVOUSA pocket badge is not covered.
      • v) Medals should be set up so that medal rims hang equal and even at the bottom edges whilst ribbon lengths may vary the “drop” from the top of the ribbon bar to the bottom of the medal should not exceed 100mm overall – for full size medals.
      • vi) Medals are worn in a fashion which is level or parallel (horizontal) to the ground when viewed from the observer’s perspective.
    • j) Left lapel;
      • i) A maximum of three key association lapel pins worn at upper centre of the lapel, one directly below the other in order of seniority with 5mm spacing in-between.
      • ii) Order of seniority for lapel pins is SAMVOUSA, your Regimental Association and then the RSL lapel pin (or RSA for NZ) as applicable.
      • iii) No other lapel pin or association badge other than a combination of the three mentioned above should be worn on the left lapel.
      • iv) The Remembrance Poppy is worn top and centre of the left lapel and senior to your association badges.
        (1) Poppies are worn on Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) in November only.
    • k) Around the neck;
      • i) Personal Official Orders and or Decorations of National or Military significance.
    • l) Right chest;
      • i) The name badge is positioned in the centre of the right chest from the observer’s perspective, roughly 20cm below the right shoulder seam and in line with the top of your medal ribbon bar on the left chest.
      • ii) A maximum of three official issue proficiency badges may be worn above your name badge, centrally positioned and with 5mm spacing in between.
      • iii) The wearing of a forbears’ full size service medals on Anzac Day (Commonwealth Countries) is restricted to member’s whose forebears died in the service of Australia or New Zealand specifically.
      • iv) The wearing of a forbears’ full size service medals is permitted on Remembrance Day also known as Armistice Day each year, when on the 11th of November we observe one minute’s silence at 11am, in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.
        • (1) Forebears’ medals are worn 5mm below your name badge
        • (2) The medals of only one forbear may be worn.
          • (a) Modesty is best, therefore if you have been issued official service medals and you also own forebears’ medals it is the SAMVOUSA preferred position that these rather be worn by a member of your family.
      • v) Personal commemorative medals may be worn 5mm below your name badge and or 5mm below your forbear’s medals if a forbear’s medals are worn.
        • (a) Wearing of commemorative medals is limited to the South African Service Cross (SASC) and the SAMVOUSA Veterans Medal (SVM).
          • (i) Should you have been presented with a commemorative medal other than the SASC or SVM you may obtain written permission to do so from your Regional Chairman.
        • (b) Members may only wear personal commemorative medals and not those of a forebear.
        • (c) The SASC is the more senior medal and is worn closest to the middle of one’s chest or “closest to the heart”.
          • (i) As with the John Chard Medal or John Chard Decoration, the SASC corps device is worn in the middle and centre of the ribbon.
            • 1. Members having served in the Army should wear the crossed swords medal device with blades facing up and NOT with the hilts (handles) up.
    • m) Right lapel.
      • i) Service Corps badge equal and opposite the senior lapel pin worn on the left lapel.
      • ii) Modesty is best, it is the SAMVOUSA preferred position that no other association badges are worn on the right lapel.
  • 2) Examples of when Dress Number 1A should be worn
    • i) Strictly adhered to by ALL participants on Memorial Day.
    • ii) All official SAMVOUSA and other ceremonial parades without exception and especially when officiating in any capacity as a SAMVOUSA office bearer or when acting as representative of SAMVOUSA in public.
    • iii) When participating as a member of an Honour Guard in the event of a SAMVOUSA member’s funeral.
    • iv) At all official federal, state or military functions as an invited guest when acting on behalf of SAMVOUSA.
    • v) Attendance of a foreign countries’ National Day during the day by invitation of that countries Ambassador or Military Attaché.
  • 3) General Observations with respect to wearing Dress Number 1A
    • i) Gloves are not worn, except when participating as pall bearers at a SAMVOUSA member’s funeral in which case white gloves are to be worn.
    • ii) Members wearing headdress as spectators should salute during the playing of the “Last Post” at Armistice Day and Memorial Day parades.
      • (1) When marching in a parade the member nominated to provide the salute will salute on your behalf – unless otherwise stipulated by the Parade Sergeant Major.
    • iii) Headdress should be removed when indoors or during the saying of prayers.
    • iv) When indoors and participating in a medal parade, participants should wear head dress as saluting is required.
      • (1) SAMVOUSA being a single rank organisation it should be noted that saluting is done solely as a token of respect for National emblems being presented and in recognition of the fallen and not to honour the issuing party.
    • v) Extra care should be taken to ensure that National emblems, medals and awards are properly displayed and worn with due dignity and respect.
    • vi) Masters-at-Arms whether at Club, Regional, National or International level are responsible for their members’ turnout.
      • (1) Members attending Memorial Day parades who do not meet dress code Number 1A will be expected to be placed at the rear of the marching party and not left out as participation takes precedence.
      • (2) New members who may not have obtained SAMVOUSA kit yet may wear a plain dark blazer, or dark lounge suit.
        • (a) All other stipulations such head dress, medals and awards apply in this case.
    • vii) Those not in possession of the approved association dress are encouraged to make their best efforts to procure this as soon as possible.
    • viii) Blazers should be buttoned at least one button at all times
    • ix) Members are discouraged from standing with hands in pockets.

Part Two

  • 4) Dress Code Number 1B
    Ceremonial review for Remembrance Parades (other than Memorial Day)

    • a) As for Dress Code Number 1A with the exception that you may obtain written permission from your Regional Chairman to wear your Corps beret on parades other than Memorial Day.
  • 5) Examples of when Dress Number 1B may be worn
    • a) All official SAMVOUSA and other ceremonial parades other than Memorial Day parade.
    • b) Dedication and thanksgiving services.
    • c) Memorial and Armistice Day celebrations.
    • d) Unveiling of War Memorials.
    • e) Official openings of Military buildings/establishments.
    • f) Inaugurations.
    • g) Garden parties.
    • h) Official receptions during the day.
    • i) At SAMVOUSA members or members family’s funerals if requested by the family and as agreed by the Executive.
    • j) Attendance of a symposium or to deliver lectures.
    • k) Semiformal military evening functions.
  • 6) General Observations with respect to wearing Dress Number 1B
    • a) As for dress Code Number 1A
  • 7) Dress Code Number 2: “Step Outs” nor non parade attire
    • a) As for Dress Code Number 1A with the exception that no headdress or medals are worn.
    • b) Worn when attending meetings which may include other Veterans or Veteran organisations.
  • 8) Monthly club meetings
    • a) No dress code is stipulated for monthly club meetings except that of the establishment or venue being attended.
    • b) Members are encouraged to wear the SAMVOUSA blazer and or tie.

Part Three

  • 9) Dress Code Number 6: Mess Dress
    • a) No headdress is worn.
    • b) No gloves are worn.
    • c) Ladies wear a formal evening gown.
    • d) Men wear a formal black dinner suit or ceremonial kilt.
      • i) The wearing of a waistcoat or cummerbund is optional.
    • e) White dress shirt.
    • f) Plain black bow tie not more than 58 mm or less than 25 mm wide.
    • g) Black belt with modest buckle.
    • h) Black socks.
    • i) Black shoes.
    • j) Left chest
      • i) Only miniature service medals and decorations worn on the left chest, in the correct order of wear and with the correct ribbons attached.
      • ii) Commemorative medals such as the South African Service Cross (SASC) and the SAMVOUSA Veterans Medal (SVM) may NOT to be worn on the left chest.
      • iii) Swing or Court mount format is acceptable.
      • iv) Medals should be worn roughly 20cm below shoulder seam.
      • v) Medals may be worn on the left lapel if your jacket is of the “wide” lapel variety.
      • vi) Medals should be set up so that medal rims hang equal and even at the bottom edges whilst ribbon lengths may vary the “drop” from the top of the ribbon bar to the bottom of the medal should not exceed 55mm overall – for miniature medals.
      • vii) Medals are worn in a fashion which is level or parallel to the ground when viewed from the observer’s perspective.
    • k) No association badges or lapel pins are worn on the left lapel.
    • l) No poppy is worn on the left lapel.
    • m) The official SAMVOUSA name badge is to be worn on the right chest roughly 20cm below the right shoulder seam and in the middle of the chest (in an “above the pocket position” as was the case with nutria).
      • i) Name badges should NOT be worn on the lapel.
    • n) No proficiency badges are worn above the name badge.
    • o) No forbearers’ miniature service medals are worn on the right chest.
    • p) Miniature commemorative medals (SASC and SVM) may be worn on the right lapel equal and opposite your official service medals and in line with your name badge.
      • i) Should you have been presented with a commemorative medal other than the SASC or SVM you may obtain written permission to do so from your Regional Chairman.
      • ii) The SASC being of national significance is the more senior medal and is worn “closest to the heart”.
    • q) No association badges or lapel pins are worn on the right lapel.
      • i) A Corps badge may be worn on the right lapel, the miniature or mess kit version being preferable.
  • 10) Examples of when Dress Number 6 may be worn
    • a) SAMVOUSA formal dinners or evening receptions.
    • b) At formal functions held during the evening.
    • c) Official or public balls, dinners and receptions of a formal nature.
  • 11) General Observations with regard to Dress Number 6
    • a) New members who may not have been able to acquire the necessary formal wear in time may wear a dark lounge suit.
    • b) Members should ensure that accompanying guests and partners are familiar with the dress code and etiquette as not to be embarrassed.
    • c) Masters-at-Arms at Club, Regional, National or International level are responsible for their members’ turnout.


The SAMVOUSA Executive reserve the right to amend or modify these Regulations as required. It is expected that SAMVOUSA members will abide by these Regulations as agreed when making their membership application.

The Regulations have been made as broad as possible to suit all members without undue inconvenience.

The SAMVOUSA Executive through its National Master-at-Arms, may refuse members the right to associate with SAMVOUSA and its functions if there are unacceptable deviations from these Regulations including behaviour which in the opinion of the Executive brings the organisation into disrepute.

Because we are a single rank Veteran’s organisation previous rank insignia should not be present on any of the dress formats.

Additional research into the dress regulations of SAMVOUSA will be ongoing and will be amended to this document as required.

Appendix A:

Illustrations for wear

Appendix B:

Further commentary with respect to Order of Wear for Honours and references for wear, an excerpt taken ad verbatim from the CMVO website ….

The History of SA Medals


Guides to Wearing Honours.

This note is a summary of principles to help when you want to know what to wear and when. Various regulations and instructions regulating the acceptance and wearing of honours apply to members in all the Services and others. Once you are a civilian, your respect for the Presidential office and for tradition and your personal discipline should ensure you continue to observe the rules.

Source of Honours.

South African honours (Orders decorations and medals) are awarded by the President as head of state in accordance with the provisions Section 84 (2) (k) of the Constitution, 1996, not by Ministers or Heads of Departments. Only official decorations and medals, South African or foreign, may be worn.

Discretion as to Wearing.

Military personnel do not have the discretion as to whether or not to wear honours bestowed on them. They must wear the ribbons and the insignia as the occasion warrants.
Only Full-size Insignia. The Presidential Warrants leave no doubt that only the full-size badges of orders, decorations and medals are the authentic insignia of honours. Unless the dress ordered is Mess Dress or black tie, the full-size badges (insignia) must be worn for all ceremonies, e.g., parades or commemoration services.
Full-size insignia are presented at investitures.
Full-size insignia are marked with serial numbers or the names of recipients.

Order of Precedence.

The correct order of precedence is from the centre of the wearer’s chest to the left shoulder. The first or senior honour must be fully visible. Medals are worn to show the obverse i.e., face or front. Except for Die Medalje vir Troue Diens – Medal for Loyal Service our medals for the SANDF have the coat of arms on the reverse. This seniority of all official South African honours is published in one consolidated list, known as the Official Table of Precedence, in the Government Gazette. The current Consolidated Official Table of Precedence was published in Government Notice No. 27376 dated 11 March 2005. All medals from the President must be worn as indicated in the Table – whether or not they were earned in different Services.


Miniature badges of orders, decorations and medals and buttonhole replicas are not the insignia proper. They are not named or numbered. In the past they had to be bought by recipients. They are concessions for convenience in wearing on mess dress or in civilian evening dress and their separate status is implied in Presidential Warrants. Miniature decorations and medals are only worn during evening functions, i.e., after 18:00. They may be worn at a suitable formal civilian event when the invitation specifies “formal” or “dinner jacket: decorations” (i.e., dinner jacket and black tie for civilians).

Mounting Styles.

In South Africa there are two styles of mounting decorations and medals – court mounting and standard mounting.
Court mounting of medals means fixing the medals to a backing. The backing is itself covered with the medal ribbons and looks very attractive look while keeping medals firm and prevents damage from their banging against each other. Behind the medal you can see the ribbon extending to the middle of the medal.
Standard or swing mounting of medals means they are threaded through the medal brooch hanger or ring and then hang loosely from the medal brooch. They may then bang against one another as they swing free. Some people prefer the look of ordinary mounting and it is very much a case of personal choice except in the SANDF.

Manner of Mounting.

Decorations and medals are to be worn side by side, suspended on the left breast from a single line brooch. Brooches vary from one to five ribbons’ width. The standard and court methods of mounting are customary in South Africa. When mounted, the ribbon and medals should measure 100 mm from the top of the ribbon to the bottom of each medal (the drop). For miniatures, the drop is 55 mm.

Width. The custom for South African and Commonwealth medals is that the group is no more than five (5) medals wide. Miniatures are generally 10 medals wide. If you have more medals than those to mount, then the medals overlap from first to last, with the first entirely visible.
Width of Brooch. The width of the brooch depends on the number of medals worn, but the maximum width is 160 mm, i.e., the width of five ribbons of 32 mm each. It must not extend under the left lapel, nor cross over the shoulder seam of the jacket.
Overlapping. When insignia exceed five they are to overlap one another with the senior honour completely visible, i.e., the first over the second, the second over the third.
Bottom Edges. When two or more decorations or medals are worn, they must be arranged so that their bottom edges are in line.
Dress No.2 or lounge suit. Standard size decorations and medals are worn when members attend mess dinners in Dress No.2 (Service Dress) or a civilian lounge suit.
Wearing Miniatures. Wear miniature decorations and medals, on a medal brooch, on the left lapel in a horizontal line through the point of the lapel of a dinner jacket. Beckets (loops) may be sewn to the lapel for convenience.
Emblems. The various emblems of Bars, Miniature Replicas, Rosettes and Clasps are affixed so that they are equidistant from the top and bottom of the ribbon. The first bar or clasp awarded is nearest to the medal. There is no restriction on the number of bars or clasps worn with a medal.

Hints for Wearing Decorations and Medals.

When you are invited to attend dinners, wreath laying and other ceremonies or reunions arranged by veterans associations or the members of a particular unit the following may help.

Occasions for Wearing. Occasions for wearing honours are determined by the type of event, i.e., formal ceremonial parades or other ceremonies. Invitations should specify dress and the wearing of decorations and medals to avoid embarrassment.
Which Medals on Ceremonial Occasions? Former members and members of veterans associations, e.g., the SA Legion, SAMVA or the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTHs), wear their standard size decorations and medals, on appropriate civilian dress when attending ceremonial occasions, memorial and wreath-laying services. Miniature insignia may not be worn as an alternative at such occasions.
Wearing Medal Ribbons. Do not wear medal ribbons alone on civilian dress on formal occasions.
Order Rosettes. When decorations and medals are not being worn people admitted to orders may wear the rosette of the senior order in the buttonhole of the left lapel of a civilian suit jacket.
Wearing on Civilian Jackets. Often people complain about the difficulty of wearing medals on civilian jackets because the medals distort the cloth. The problem arises from wearing medals above the pocket as on tunics. It is much easier to use the previous style of pinning the medal brooch along a line through the lapel to the shoulder. The strain is then taken by the stronger part of the jacket which is braced by the shoulder padding. A useful alternative to holes in the cloth is to sew three or four beckets (small loops) onto the jacket through which to pass the brooch pin.
Next-of-kin’s medals. The next-of-kin of the fallen or any other heirs are only permitted to wear the decorations or medals of deceased personnel at commemoration parades and services, e.g., on Remembrance Sunday in November each year. On those occasions only, the direct next-of-kin may wear the awards on the right breast to commemorate their dead. The decorations and medals of only one person may be worn in this way.
Foreign Honours. No foreign honours may be accepted and worn until permission has first been obtained from the President.
Permission. Permission for acceptance and wearing will only be considered if the honours have been offered by foreign heads of state or governments, according to the particular country’s usage, or by recognised international, e.g., the United Nations, the African Union or NATO.
Serving Personnel. If you are in the Services ask for permission through official channels.
Retired or Resigned Personnel. If you are out of the Services write to the Chancellor of Orders, The Presidency, Union Buildings, Pretoria asking for permission.

Unauthorised Medals

Private Organisations Medals. Medals awarded by private organisations may not be worn on a military uniform or with official honours. However, the medals of some Life-Saving Societies have been given limited official recognition, enabling recipients to wear them when official honours were worn, usually on the right breast – after permission has been granted through official channels. Two examples are the Medal of the Royal Humane Society and the Medal for Life Saving at Seaof the German Society for Saving the Shipwrecked. Medals awarded by recognised private associations, such as the Scouts or military veterans’ associations, are not to be worn in uniform. If they are worn in civilian dress or the association uniform they are worn them after official SA honours or on the right breast as prescribed.
False Orders. There are numerous false orders on sale. Many resemble genuine orders whose names have been adopted wrongly or illegally. The only orders recognized are those subordinate to heads of state or governments. They are not to be worn with official honours.
Commercial Medals. Various commercial ventures sell medals called commemorative medals. These have private origins and have no official sanction. Many are advertised and sold. They include medals for former Prisoners of War, for various campaigns and engagements for which no official medals have ever been instituted or for National Service. Periodically rumours are put out that they have been accorded official recognition. It is essential to be aware of these spurious medals. To wear them with official honours lowers the status of earned South African honours. Do not wear them with official honours in any circumstances.

Wearing Badges

Lately South Africans attending memorial services and parades have been plastering their jackets with qualification, proficiency, unit, veteran association and other badges. Of course, one is proud of what some badges indicate. However, cluttering civilian dress with badges makes them look like cheap tourist pins.
Several badges are meant for wearing in uniform not on civilian dress. Wearing an array of badges, including, qualification and proficiency badges, makes the wearer look so unprofessional and unmilitary. Badges are not the equivalent of decorations and medals. Wearing several detracts from the dignity and significance of the decorations and medals you are wearing.
Instead of wearing everything select what is the single the most important to you – your regimental association badge, unique proficiency badge or other veterans’ association badge – something really special for you. Maximum of two is preferable. If you wear medals as described above, place the badge high up on the lapel or on the right lapel.
Being a civilian should not make you lose your respect for the Service in which you served and of which you were proud and its traditions. Your personal discipline should ensure you continue to observe the rules.

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