How to Wear American Flag Patches

Wearing an American flag patch on your clothes is a way to showcase your patriotism and honor the ideals that this great nation upholds. However, it’s essential to understand the proper etiquette and guidelines for wearing the flag patch to ensure it is displayed respectfully.

In this blog, we will guide you on wearing American flag patches on clothes with the utmost respect and pride. Whether you’re a first-time flag patch wearer or looking for styling tips, this blog will equip you with the knowledge you need to display the American flag patch in a way that genuinely reflects its significance. 

Understanding the Etiquette of Wearing the American Flag Patch

The United States Flag Code provides guidelines on displaying and handling the American flag, including flag patches. While the Flag Code is not enforceable by law, it serves as a guide for showing respect to the flag and its representations. Familiarizing yourself with the Flag Code is essential to understanding the etiquette of wearing the American flag patch. It outlines principles such as not using the flag patch as apparel, not allowing it to touch the ground, and not displaying it in a manner that may be perceived as disrespectful.

To wear the American flag patch respectfully, it is essential to follow specific guidelines regarding its positioning and orientation. According to tradition, the flag patch should be worn on the right clothing sleeve, with the stars facing forward or to the front. This aligns with the flag’s position when carried into battle or while advancing. By adhering to this placement, you demonstrate respect for the flag’s representation and its historical significance.

Below are a few etiquette rules you should follow to avoid disrespect in the flag:

1. The Placement

Even if you’re a civilian, you still need to wear the American flag on sleeve of the shirt, just like the soldiers or other military personnel. Technically, you can wear the flag patch in other areas of your clothing, but the sleeve is considered the proper placement of the patch.

American Flag Placement on Shoulder Sleeve

2. Placing the American Flag on Sleeve

The proper placement of the American flag on left or right sleeve depends on the following: 

  • Right Sleeve: When wearing the American flag on right sleeve, such as on a military or law enforcement uniform, the stars should always face forward, toward the front of the person wearing it. This arrangement is often referred to as the “reverse field” or “reverse side” of the flag. The stripes will be on the back of the sleeve, and the stars should be in the upper-right corner as you look at it.
  • Left Sleeve: When wearing the American flag on left sleeve, as is the case on the uniforms of many organizations, the stars should face toward the front as well. In this orientation, the stars will be in the upper-left corner as you look at it, and the stripes will be on the back of the sleeve.

In both cases, the key principle is to ensure that the stars are always positioned forward, symbolizing the flag’s movement as if it were flying in the breeze while the wearer is in motion.

3. Placing American Flag Patches with Other Flag Patches 

If you plan to place it with other flag patches, the American flag should be placed above all other patches. This is to show that nothing should be placed above your own country. Displaying any other patch higher ‌on your sleeve disrespects the flag.

4. Adding Flag Patches on Bags and Backpacks

In adding flag patches to bags and backpacks, the same rule applies. You must make sure that the flag patch is in the highest position over other patches and that the stars are in the upper forward position. It is also essential to ensure that the patch is not placed at the bottom of the bag to avoid it from hitting the ground. This is to make sure that you always honor our nation’s flag.

USA Flag Patches (2-Pack) American Flag Embroidered Iron On Patch Appliques

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Placement of Flag Patches

Several factors should be considered when deciding on placing an American flag patch. 

  1. Think about the visibility of the patch and how it complements the overall appearance of the garment or accessory. 
  2. The placement should enhance the patriotic symbolism without overpowering the rest of the outfit. 
  3. Consider the practicality of the placement. Ensure that the patch does not obstruct movement or get in the way of daily activities.
  4. Consider any guidelines or regulations specific to certain institutions or organizations regarding the placement of flag patches.

Applying American Flag Patches

A. Sew-on Method

The sew-on method provides a secure and long-lasting attachment for your American flag patch. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to attach the patch using this method:

  1. Choose a sturdy thread that matches the color of the patch or the fabric.
  2. Position the patch on the desired garment location, ensuring it is straight and aligned.
  3. Thread the needle and knot the end of the thread.
  4. Start sewing from the inside of the garment, pushing the needle through the fabric and the patch.
  5. Sew along the edges of the patch, using small and even stitches. Ensure that the stitches are tight enough to attach the patch securely, but not too tight that they pucker the fabric.
  6. Continue sewing around the entire perimeter of the patch until it is fully secured.
  7. Knot the thread on the inside of the garment and trim any excess thread.

B. Iron-on Method

The iron-on method provides a quick and convenient way to attach an American flag patch. Here are some guidelines for applying the patch using this method:

  1. Preheat your iron to the temperature recommended for the fabric of the garment.
  2. Position the patch on the desired location, ensuring it is straight and aligned.
  3. Place a thin, clean cloth over the patch to protect the patch and the iron.
  4. Press the heated iron firmly onto the patch and hold it in place for the duration recommended by the patch manufacturer. Apply even pressure and avoid moving the iron around.
  5. After the recommended time, carefully lift the iron and cloth to check if the patch has adhered. If not, repeat the process, applying additional heat and pressure.
  6. Allow the patch and garment to cool completely before handling.

C. Fabric Glue Method

Attaching flag patches using fabric glue is an alternative method that provides a convenient and easy way to secure the patch. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to attach flag patches using fabric glue:

  1. Choose a fabric glue suitable for the type of fabric and patch materials you are working with. Ensure that the glue is designed explicitly for fabric bonding and is safe for the patch and the garment.
  2. Position the flag patch on the desired location of the garment, ensuring it is straight and aligned.
  3. Apply a small amount of fabric glue to the back of the patch. Start by applying a thin line of glue around the patch’s edges, and then add a few glue dots in the center. Be careful not to use too much glue, as it can seep through the fabric and create a mess.
  4. Press the patch firmly onto the garment, applying even pressure to ensure proper adhesion. Make sure all edges of the patch are securely attached to the fabric.
  5. Allow the glue to dry completely. Follow the instructions the fabric glue manufacturer provided for the recommended drying time. Let the glue fully dry to ensure a solid and durable bond.
  6. Check the patch once the fabric glue has dried to ensure it is firmly attached.
  7. After attaching the patch using fabric glue, avoid washing the garment for at least 24-48 hours to fully allow the glue to set and strengthen its bond with the fabric.

It is important to note that fabric glue may not provide as strong and long-lasting attachment as sewing or iron-on methods. The durability of the bond may vary depending on the fabric, patch material, and the quality of the fabric glue used. Therefore, it is recommended to reserve this method for lightweight fabrics or temporary attachments.

Styling Tips for Incorporating American Flag Patches in Your Clothing

  1. Casual looks: Pairing flag patches with jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers: American flag patches can add a touch of patriotism to your casual outfits. Consider these styling tips for a laid-back and effortlessly cool look:
  2. Denim and flag patches: Pair your flag patch with a classic denim jacket or jeans. The contrasting colors and textures create a visually appealing combination.
  3. Graphic t-shirts: Wear your flag patch on a plain or graphic t-shirt. This allows the patch to become the focal point of your outfit while the t-shirt provides a comfortable and casual backdrop.
  4. Sneakers and accessories: Complete your casual look with white sneakers for a fresh and contemporary style. To enhance the patriotic theme, consider accessorizing with American flag-themed hats, bandanas, or bracelets.
  5. Formal occasions: Integrating flag patches into more dressed-up outfits: While flag patches are commonly associated with casual wear, they can also be incorporated into formal or semi-formal outfits. Here are some suggestions for more refined occasions:
    • Blazers and suits: Attach your flag patch to the lapel or breast pocket of a blazer or suit jacket. This subtle placement adds a patriotic touch to your formal attire.
    • Dress shirts: Sew the flag patch on the cuff or shoulder of a dress shirt. This placement offers a sophisticated and unique detail without overpowering the overall look.


Wearing an American flag patch on your clothing is a powerful way to display your patriotism and honor the values the flag represents. Remember, wearing an American flag patch is not just a fashion statement; it symbolizes unity, freedom, and the sacrifices made by those who came before us. Let us strive to wear the flag patch with reverence, following proper guidelines for its display and treating it with the respect it deserves. By doing so, we can honor the ideals of our nation and inspire others to do the same.

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