Piping first appeared as a decorative device during the 1840s, which Sailors added to break up drabness of their uniform. In 1866 the collar flap was extended to nine inches to accommodate a standardized system of white piping to distinguish petty officers (three rows), ordinary seamen (two rows) and landsmen and boys (one row).
Corresponding rows were displayed on the cuff. In 1876 the white tape on the collar was standardized to three rows for all enlisted wearing the jumper, with rank to be determined by the petty officer insignia, and cuff stripes for the seaman ranks. In 1947, cuff piping was standardized at three rows for all hands since rating badges and added piping (diagonal white, red, green, or blue stripes on the left sleeve) to denote rank was repetitious.