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What is a Matador Hat?

Douglas Bonderud
Douglas Bonderud

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.

Matador's hats are meant to represent the horns of a bull.
Matador's hats are meant to represent the horns of a 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.

Discussion Comments


@JessicaLynn - Bullfighting may be barbaric but it is a cultural tradition in Spain. I can see why people don't want to give it up, even in these more "animal friendly" days.

That being said I wouldn't be sad to see bullfighting decline in popularity. I find the costume sort of endearing though so I hope it would still survive as a Halloween costume.


I think bullfighting is barbaric. I was so upset when I was younger and I learned that they actually kill the bull in the bullfight! The fact that they do it while wearing a silly hat? Well, I don't quite know what to say about that!


I cannot quite figure out why anyone wants to get a bull to chase them down, but that’s just me folks. I will say though that I have always thought that the matador’s outfit is a truly unmanly sort, and that it takes a brave person to wear the thing in the first place.

The outfit is usually quite feminine by our standards today for the simple fact that it is covered in sequin decorations. The hat is very unique to the bullfighter’s outfit, and is supposed to somehow sort of make him look like a bull – I’m not exactly sure how that works.

I am of a belief, personally, that the reason the bull chases the matador down is for the simple fact that such a hilarious thing is trying to best him.


Another common piece that is associated with the bullfighters costume is the cape that he traditionally waves around in front of the bull. It is often red, because red is supposed to catch the bull’s eye and infuriate him into charging.

These costumes, though silly looking to a lot of us, actually take a good deal of time and expense to design and sew. The matadors take them quite seriously because they are steeped in long standing tradition.

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    • Matador's hats are meant to represent the horns of a bull.
      By: Steve Oehlenschlager
      Matador's hats are meant to represent the horns of a bull.