The Vow: NXIVM Members Wore Colored Sashes to Show Rank, and Here's What They Mean

In NXIVM, the self-help and self-discovery organization that was later exposed as a sex-trafficking ring, members wore colored sashes around their necks to denote rank, which is touched on in HBO's documentary The Vow. When entering the program, students start out with a white sash that shows they're students, and as they're promoted, they earn stripes on their sashes before moving up to a new color. The "stripe path" was what they referred to this as, as you had to earn four stripes on your sash before progressing to the next level.

The process for moving up in rank was up to leader Keith Raniere (who wore a white sash and considered himself a student), but it generally involved taking more classes (and paying more money) and recruiting new members. Frank Parlato, who once worked for NXIVM before helping expose the group, compiled a firsthand account of the sash color system for Art Voice.

  • White: White sashes were for students, which are those who just joined the program. Anyone who paid to join the program got a white sash.
  • Yellow: The next step up is coach. These members worked for free for the organization and also had to pay dues.
  • Orange: Proctors wore orange sashes, and these people were able to earn a small salary or commission for recruiting. However, you had to pour a lot of money into the organization to make this small salary.
  • Green: Next are the senior proctors, who wore green. As you move up the ranks, you're still investing a lot of money in NXIVM and won't see yourself moving up if you're not. A green sash generally cost a member around $1 million.
  • Blue: Blue sashes are for counselors and can cost about $5 million. These members do make a salary, but it's nothing compared to the money they were putting in.
  • Purple: These were the senior counselors. This level was extremely hard to reach, and according to Parlato, only three people ever did.
  • Gold: Gold was reserved for the prefect, of which there was only one: cofounder of NXIVM Nancy Salzman.