A gable hood, English hood or gable headdress is an English woman's headdress of c. 1500–1550, so called because its pointed shape resembles the architectural feature of the same name. The contemporary French hood was rounded in outline and unlike the gable hood, less conservative, displaying the front part of the hair.
The gable hood was originally a simple pointed hood with decorated side panels called lappets and a veil at the back. Over time, it became a complex construction stiffened with buckram, having a box-shaped back and two tube-shaped hanging veils at 90-degree angles. The hanging veils and lappets could be pinned up in a variety of ways to make complex headdresses.
Generally, the gable hood consisted of four parts: the paste, lappets, veil, and decorative jewels (for the most aristocratic only). The paste was a white, stiffened version of the coif, with drawstrings at the back to adjust to the wearer's head. Then, the lappets were pinned to the paste, and either left to hang or pinned to the side of the head. Then, the veil was attached. The jewels were mounted on a stiff foundation that could be sewn to the paste, acting not only as decoration but as something to create a more rigid structure. A striped silk undercap could also be worn to fully cover the hair.
Early gable hood: Elizabeth of York c. 1500
18th-century rendition of Catherine of Aragon in a 1520s gable hood with pinned lappets.
Front and back views of a box-backed gable hood of c. 1528–30. Detail of a drawing by Hans Holbein.
Gable hood with lappets and one side of veil pinned up. Engraving after Holbein, c. 1535.
Gable hood of c. 1543