Strictly speaking, epaulets are bright tassle-y little do-hickeys that soldiers wear on their shoulders as armed forces bling to communicate their rank. Perhaps derived from the Roman cavalry pteruges, the epaulet became a major signifier of status within the 1700s, particularly among the French Army (according to an arcane system semaphore with left shoulder-, right shoulder- and counter-epaulets all indicating different statures). What we call an epaulet (or, epaulette—from the French, meaning “little shoulder”) is really the passant—a strap of fabric attached to a button near the collar of a garment, running down the shoulder seam to a fabric loop at the top edge of the sleeve. Almost anything decorative above your traps (outside of a toucan) is called an epaulet these days. But if someone corrects you, salute, and gauge your fear by the size and location of the fringe on their peacock wing.