BREACAN-FEILE or Great Kilt or Belted Plaid
Whatever you want to call it, they are all the rage at Renaissance Faires across the United States.
Tartan has been worn in the Highlands for centuries. In early modern times it took the form of the belted plaid, a versatile article in the shape of a rectangle about 5 1/2 yds long, which could serve as cloak and sleeping bag.
Tartan is ancient, but clan tartans are not. There is little evidence that clan tartans existed before the Forty Five. Some clans may well have worn the same tartan, for instance in places where there was not much choice, and chiefs sometimes equipped their men with identical plaids for a particular expedition.
Writing in 1583, a cartographer to the King of France reported:
"Those who inhabit Scotland south of the Grampian chain are tolerably civilized ...but those who inhabit the north are more rude, homely and unruly, and for this reason are called savages or wild Scots.
"They wear a large and full shirt coloured with saffron and over this a garment, hanging to the knee, of thick wool, after the manner of a cassock".
Our Kilt (inaccurately labeled, I know, but it works for simplicities sake) is 5 1/2 yds of 54" plaid, pleated and sewn to a waistband for your convenience. It is in the tradition of the Breacan-Feile in that the upper portion is left so you can drape it over your shoulder or roll it into a bun on your back. It is not a modern kilt, we do not pretend to know the extensive formula for pleating and sewing a modern kilt.
You can order the tartan affiliated with your family, but don't feel limited by that. Remember, you are representing a highlander in the 1500's, you don't have a family tartan. You wear what is available and are thankful for that!