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Vintage Uniforms and Square Knot Awards

Let me lay it out. A vintage uniform can be worn by anyone. But you must wear period appropriate patches and awards. For example, if you have a scout shirt, you would have to put a CSP from that time period on it.

My question is about the square knots. Am I reading this correctly that an adult scouter would be able to wear his Eagle Square Knot but depending on the time period of the shirt, may be limited to the square knot also from that time period (i.e. - The NESA knot would only be worn on 2008 and later uniform shirts). Hence a 1960’s vintage scout shirt could only wear knots that were around at the same time.

Is this correct?

all uniform items are valid at all times. I would definitely wear period appropriate patches but I know of no requirement mandating it.


In ground truth, it depends. If you want a uniform that you can trade/sell, the more authentic to the period, the better. If you’ve just inherited your grandfather’s shirt and want wear it with the insignia that you’ve earned, then swap out his patches for the ones you have now.

If you’ve picked something up from a thrift store or estate sale, then you are probably in a middle ground between those two options. Muddle through as best you can. Don’t make too many stitches in case you want to change things. And, for all that is right and holy, don’t use Badge Magic!


The real origins of the rules around “once a uniform, always a uniform rule” is to allow for transitions from old to new. If you want to wear a vintage uniform, you are welcome to make up rules about how to appropriately wear it; such specifics aren’t covered in the uniform and insignia guide.

No, it’s not correct.

Bryan On Scouting is an official blog of BSA. Read this entry:

What are you talking about not being correct? I believe all I have said is correct. It is always official, but they never rule on exactly how. The reason is to allow you to transition - without having to buy all new. So, it really is designed to allow easy transitions and they don’t say that it all must be of a particular vintage.

I am guessing that the post meant the original statement of being limited to period patches. Of course one nuance that seems completely lost (in my area) is wearing of “temporary” CSPs. The rule indicates such can be worn for 1 year. Practice (in my area) is to wear said patch until the person finds one they like better.


Good point. Yes, there are some rules like this that would come into play regardless.

As Christopher Schuster commented above, that post is where I originally remembered the “official always official” statement. So to put a pin directly into the fabric, here is the whole story.

In 1966, BSA put out an official scouter formal dress uniform that was for all intents and purposes a two piece suit. In the uniforming guide published that year, they refer to the wearing of square knots above the left pocket where you were only wearing a maximum of 3 knots and a total of 3 medals and any service stars. The uniform is olive green so my dilemma is if I should get olive background knots, wear the modern knots or leave it empty and just wear the medals.

If I wear knots, I am limited to 3, so I was thinking Eagle Scout, District AoM, and Adult Religious Emblem. But then the dilemma is the District AoM was introduced in 1971 and the Adult Religious Emblem was introduced in 1973. While these could very well have had some overlap on service time, the one that really gets me is the Eagle Scout knot.

As a lifetime member of NESA, I am entitled to wear the silver bordered eagle scout square knot but it did not become official until 2008 which is clearly after the Scouter “suit” Uniform was no longer being made. So, if I stick to time period reasoning, I should wear the olive backed Eagle knot instead of the khaki backed NESA knot.

With the back story now complete, do you agree?

If this is a uniform for you to wear at meetings, camporees, etc …
Then go with the knots you have. The operative word in contemporary uniform info is “neat.” I think you could get by with a second row of knots, no problem. But lay the patches out on the shirt, if you think it looks sharper with just one row, stick with that.

And remember, the most important part of your uniform: your smile!


My son wears the same khaki shirt that I wore as a Boy Scout circa 1980s. It’s slightly different than the ones you can buy today (dark black buttons), but he does not look out of place compared to other scouts. As he proceeds through earning the Scouts BSA ranks, my understanding is that he may wear my older rank patches as well (which are more colorful than today’s rank patches) but that is a decision I will leave to him.

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My reply was to David Dyer’s question.

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