For other uses, see Sombrero (disambiguation).
Mexican sombreros.

Sombrero (Spanish for "hat", literally "shadower") in English refers to a type of wide-brimmed hat popularly worn in Mexico, used to shield from the sun. It usually has a high pointed crown, an extra-wide brim (broad enough to cast a shadow over the head, neck and shoulders of the wearer, and slightly upturned at the edge), and a chin string to hold it in place. Cowboys generalized the word to mean just about any wide broad-brimmed hat.[1]


Sombreros, like the cowboy hats invented later, were designed in response to the demands of the physical environment. The concept of a broad-brimmed hat worn by a rider on horseback can be seen as far back as the Mongolian horsemen of the 13th century.[2] In hot, sunny climates hats evolved to have wide brims, which provided shade. The Spanish developed a flat-topped sombrero, which they brought to Mexico. It was modified by the vaquero into the round-crowned Mexican sombrero and poblano.[3] Although sombrero is usually taken to refer to the traditional Mexican headwear, the term sombrero predates this item of clothing, and is and has been applied to several differing styles of hat, since it is the actual word for hat in Spanish. Other types of hats known as sombrero can be found in South America and Spain, including the sombrero calañés, sombrero cordobés and sombrero de catite (Spain), sombrero vueltiao (Colombia).

Cultural influence

Apache chief with sombrero

Many early Texan cowboys adopted the Spanish and Mexican sombrero with its flat crown and wide, flat brim. Also called the poblano, these hats came from Spain.

The Mexican variation of the sombrero added an even wider brim and a high, conical crown. These are the hats worn by mariachi musicians and charros. Both types of sombreros usually include a barboquejo or chin strap.[1]

In the Western United States, the sombrero had a high conical or cylindrical crown with a saucer-shaped brim, highly embroidered and made of plush felt.[4]

Sombreros are also present in Philippine history, due to the influence from Spain brought about by the Manila galleon trade. The term has been assimilated into the Tagalog language in the form of sumbrero and now refers to any hat – from actual sombreros to baseball caps.[5]

The galaxy Messier 104 is known as the Sombrero Galaxy due to its appearance.[6]

In 2016, colleges and other venues criticized students for wearing sombreros, along with other ethnic clothing and traditions, citing cultural appropriation.[7][8]

See also



Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sombreros.
  1. 1 2 Slatta, Richard W. (1996). The Cowboy Encyclopedia. ISBN 0-393-31473-1.
  2. Bender, Texan Bix (1994). bowls & the Cowboys Who Wear Them. p. 10. ISBN 1-58685-191-8.
  3. Bender, Texan Bix. (1994) Hats & the cowboys who wear them. pg 11 ISBN 1-58685-191-8
  4. Carlson, Paul Howard, The Cowboy Way: An Exploration of History and Culture. Pg 102 (2006) ISBN 0-89672-583-9
  5. "Hat is Sumbrero in Tagalog". Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  6. "Sombrero Galaxy:Hidden Double in a Hat". Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  7. "Cinco de Mayo: Not an excuse to get drunk". Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  8. "Political correctness devours yet another college, fighting over mini-sombreros". Retrieved 2016-05-03.
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