A matador hat is a man's hat traditionally worn by the bullfighter or torero during a bullfight. It is a flat-topped hat, with a round bulb above each ear. In the early part of the 19th century, this hat — also known as a montera — replaced the traditional tri-pointed hat used in bullfighting. The bulbs on each side of the hat are meant to represent a bull's horns, and the flat piece at the top of the head is analogous to a bull's eye.
This type of hat is usually constructed of a curly, woven fabric that has a consistency and texture much like hair. The flat portion of the hat, on top of the head, typically features velvet and elaborate scroll work. The inside of a matador hat is often lined in red silk. A matador hat should fit snugly over the head to prevent being thrown off, in the event of a goring by the bull.
The word montera translates to 'cloth cap.' When the words de torero are added, its meaning changes to specifically refer to a bullfighter's hat. Often the word montera is used alone to refer to a matador hat, as its meaning has become almost inseparable from the word.
Bullfighting hats are one of the few items in the torero's costume that have changed significantly in the last few hundred years. These competitors still wear the traje de luces, or suit of lights, which is a sequined jacket and pair of pants. The outfit is so named because the sequins are said to make the suit seem as if it were alight.
These hats are no longer worn only by bullfighters, as high-quality matador hats are available for purchase around the globe, over the Internet. Many of the hats are produced in Spain, by craftsmen who understand the level of detail required for their production. Prices for a well-crafted replica can range from about 60 US Dollars (USD) to 200 USD. The bullfighter outfit is also a very popular Halloween costume, and many novelty shops sell plastic or foam versions of the matador hat for less than 10 USD.
A true matador's hat is sewn by hand, and can take up to one month to complete. The matador typically has multiple hats and suits, in the event that one is ruined during a bullfight. While the safety of this sport has improved for matadors in recent years, the possibility of injury or death still exists.