Rouging one's knees

In the musical Chicago, Velma sings:

I’m gonna rouge my knees
And roll my stockings down
And all that jazz

What the heck does it mean to “rouge one’s knees”? Why would you do it?

And for that matter, what is a “lavaliere”? Roxie sings:

And I’ll appear in a lavaliere
That goes all the way down to my waist

A low-cut dress? A necklace?

Explains some 1920’s slang.

And lavaliere.

See the picture at that site.

So the necklace would be extra long, showy, and extravagant, just as you’d expect of Velma.


a microphone suspended from a cord around the neck is called a lavaliere microphone, popular before they became small enough to be clipped on.

Wow, that was quick!

Gee, youse guys is swell!

In the Fifties and Sixties, sometimes a college girl got “lavaliered” which was a step between going steady (wearing his class ring as a sign that you weren’t dating anyone else) and getting pinned (wearing his fraternity pin as a sign that you were engaged to be engaged.) The lavaliere necklace that you wore may have had something to do with his fraternity also. I’ve forgotten. Gee I’m old.

Ha! In my day, you could get “dropped” (a symbol, usually the frat letters, on a chain; if no frat, then the guy’s initials). It was considered not quite as serious as getting pinned (his fraternity pin–or whatever pin he could scare up) which led directly to engagement, but about on a par with, if not exactly like, getting lavaliered. The lavalier people seemed to be from further south.

As to the knees: they were rouged to stand out.

My mother rolled her stockings from the 1920s until the 1970s, when she started wearing those knee-high things. She had a permanent crease just below her knee from doing it. However, she gave up putting blush on her knees (as we would say today) when she gave up short skirts–which was probably 1929.

It was done to make the knees look more dimpled. Exposed knees were very new in those days.

We still do it in Ohio. It is the college equivalent of going steady.