The Real Deal on French Hoods in Film & TV


Many times over the years, we’ve snarked TV shows and films for their wildly inaccurate takes on the iconic 16th-century head covering, the French hood. This was an item worn by upper-class women in Europe from about 1510 up to 1600, although it was most popular at the French and English courts around the 1520s to 1550s. This headgear is often associated with Anne Boleyn, who supposedly brought the fashion to England — that’s probably not true, though she may have made it fashionable. While I don’t know that an actual version of this headgear survives, there are TONS of portraits and images from the 16th century. The French hood appears as one of the most common types of head covering for upper-class women and even more middling-class women later in the century. But movies and TV have a really hard time reproducing it!

Do you want to read all of this deep-dive into how French hoods look onscreen (with over 2,800 words and over 60 images) and how movies and TV get it right and wrong?  The full post is available on Patreon for our subscribers! Check it out here. We’ll make this post available to everyone one year from today. Until then, only Patreon subscribers can view it!

Patreon-only post - French hoods

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10 Responses

  1. Shashwat

    I have not subscribed to your Patreon(I don’t earn,and scholarships go to savings),so it means another twelve months for me.Meanwhile,movies and TV shows will taint the screen with dozens of visor-bonnet-minnie -mouse-hat monstrosities and make me wish you could somehow add and snark those with this article when non-Patreon supporters are able to view it.
    (I don’t think I can praise Sarah’s interpretation of a French hood enough.I think it could work very well for the earlier looser styles as well the particular tight profile seen in the french portraits.I always felt something was off with the most commonly accepted “accurate” single rigid piece interpretation,particularly the side profile and attachment of crescent to the band which causes a bit of the base to show near the ears,something completely inaccurate.After the dismissal of Mode Historique,it was terribly difficult to find your research article.)

  2. Van

    A friend of mine in the SCA… I think… saw and handled a few surviving French Hoods at either the BM or the V&A. She was in London, anyway

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Not a lot of clothing items from the 16th century still survive, & I’ve yet to hear of an actual French hood. Plenty of coifs from the late 16th century exist & are at the V&A & other museums.

  3. LondonKdS

    I thought when I saw the title that this post would be about historical French gangster films. Was Borsalino made long enough after the events it depicted to qualify to appear here?

  4. Roxana

    I have never understood why television makes such a mess out of sixteenth century women’s headgear. It’s not like there aren’t plentiful images available!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Exactly! There’s so many images & even a lot of variety within those images — & they don’t look like what’s usually onscreen, unfortunately.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I don’t expect movies or TV shows to construct historically accurate French hoods — that’s not practical for a lot of reasons. But it is easy to create a French hood that looks historically accurate using theatrical methods, as I note in this full article.

    • Shashwat

      There is a french hood tutorial on cardinal creations.She tried to copy the silhouette of the layered french hoods from the period paintings,but sewed the various components together along the edges while keeping the accurate structure in mind.It looks like a perfect,layered hood and is easy to wear too.
      They fail to make a convincing french hood in one piece because they are simply not clear about the structure.As has been mentioned on this site a gazillion times,the hood goes back not up.The hood goes above the paste or atleast at the very edge of it,but placing the paste above renders it as ugly as a visor.

  5. Roxana

    There seems to be a tendency to confuse French hoods with kokoshniks, which can be heavily decorated with long transparent veils.


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