A sombrero is a hat of indistinct origin. Some believe it to have originated in old world Spain, while others trace its origins to the United States Mexican border. In its original Spanish the name sombrero simply means a hat with a brim; which is all that is technically necessary for a hat to be known as a sombrero. This ambiguity may have something to do with why the origins of the sombrero are so difficult to trace.
Traditional sombreros can either be constructed out of woven straw (the look of an oversized straw hat), felt or velvet and are designed to protect against harsh sunlight. Typically people consider felt and velvet to be the construction materials of choice for the Spanish sombrero, while woven straw is most often attributed to the Mexican variety of the sombrero. There are two distinct styles of sombrero. One has a flat top with a brim, while the other one has a slightly pointed top with a brim. Typically when most people think of sombreros they think of the latter version woven out of straw which is most commonly associated with Mexican culture.
Sombreros can be either plainly constructed or decorated with dyed straw or embroidered designs and are part of the traditional dress code for mariachi musicians.