Chaucer's Reeve describes the entrance of the miller Symkyn and his wife into church on a holy day as a “sighte.” Why is Symkyn's wife in a red dress, and why does the Reeve consider it a spectacle? To answer these questions, this article examines Chaucer's use of the term sighte in the Canterbury Tales, the nature of fashion codes during the later Middle Ages, and what the choice of wearing a red dress says about an individual in a late medieval English village. Using Pierre Bourdieu's notion of distinction or taste, this article shows that the Reeve's description of Symkyn's wife in a red dress is one of the earliest renditions of tastelessness in English-language literature.

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