THE TRUTH LIES IN JEST

Ask Catherine Cohen: How Do I “Practice Hotness” in 2022?

The comedian also responds to inquiries about finding clothes that look neither too young nor too old, and dating when you don't really feel like it.


Catherine Cohen photographed by Valerie Chiang for W Magazine.
Catherine Cohen photographed by Valerie Chiang for W Magazine.

Catherine Cohen is a comedian and actress. In her original show tunes, character videos and on her popular podcast Seek Treatment (co-hosted with fellow comedian Pat Regan) she skewers the clichés of millennial aspiration, deadpans about sex on antidepressants, and earnestly celebrates such triumphs as finding love or drinking seven beers. Her first book, God I Feel Modern Tonight: Poems From a Gal About Town is out now. Have a question for Catherine? Send it to askcatherine@wmagazine.com.

I’m 35 years old and I have no idea what to wear, ever. I look like a clown if I go “younger,” and I feel matronly when I try to dress “more mature.” How do I find chic clothes that feel right for this stage of my life?

My darling! Dressing oneself has nothing to do with “having an idea” or “the stages of life.” Dressing oneself is an act of courage, a spiritual gesture rooted in pure feeling and joy, a wink into the ether… Age is famously a myth (I’m 30 and eat popsicles every day) and dress codes are an illusion that I believe my high school principal single handedly created in 2007 during the “leggings are not pants” movement.

To find the right clothes for now, simply tap into what makes you feel good and worry less about what the item represents or what you see when you look in the mirror. Mirrors are not to be trusted. Have you ever felt like a supermodel with 14.9M followers on Insta until you catch your reflection in the window of that big sexy Starbucks on 9th avenue and see a sad woman who looks like she needs help only to realize the woman is you? No?

Ruminate less on how you are perceived and more on what makes you feel like you. So what if you look like a clown? Clowns get attention, which is something that I personally love. And matrons are powerful, sturdy, and not to be fucked with. Once you begin to see clothing as pieces of art—they will, as Queen Marie Kondo says, spark joy.

What feels good to the touch? How does an item change the way in which you move through space? I’m partial to silks, feathers, and velvets that make me feel like I’m perpetually reclined on a chaise. Jeans, on the other hand, make my stomach hurt and my period-stained panties feel like loose cardboard. What does loose cardboard mean? Honey if I knew I would tell you!

As you embark on your sartorial journey, understand that it might take some time or a few wears to get a sense of your relationship to each item in your closet. Savor this experience. Don’t waste time/money on fast fashion that will fall apart (I cover your eyes as we walk by my closet stuffed to the brim with crop tops from H&M) but take time to pause and save up for statement pieces. If you find something you love, buy it in another color. If you wouldn’t walk out of the dressing room wearing an item, don’t buy it. And at the end of the day, whatever you’re wearing, it’s not about how old you are, but how you carry yourself. It’s called confidence, doll. Congratulations you’ve booked the role of YOU in the movie of YOUR LIFE. We’ve no time for a fitting, select your wardrobe and get in the spotlight. XO

Should I force myself to go on dates just to do it? Even though I have zero interest in having a boyfriend right now?

Dating has nothing to do with boyfriends! You heard it here first. Dating is about collecting stories, making friends/enemies, and wondering how a cranberry vodka could cost $14. After what we’ve all collectively #beenthrough, it’s so easy to hide on your couch and watch Love Island Australia (you know it’s bad when you’ve already seen every season of UK) but going out on the town is a way to remind yourself you are a person to whom fabulous things can and will happen. Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is the only way to check your literal pulse in this modern age. Whenever I don’t feel like getting out of the Uber, that’s when I know I’m going to have a good night.

If the date sucks, you’re allowed to leave as soon as you want. I once had a beautiful 28-minute OkCupid date in 2015. But most dates aren’t bad or good, they’re just fine and they’re a nice way to get out of your comfort zone, meet someone whose path you might not normally cross and find out what you do and don’t like.

Dates don’t have to be sexual or even romantic. They can also be a great way to meet a new friend or even a whole new friend group, which is very difficult as an adult!!!! *Cut to me sobbing alone at a table for 12.* And, of course, dates are also a great way to have sex, which is something I really adore. Have you tried it? Five stars for sex!

Now, eventually, you might have enough fun on a date that you want it to happen again and again until suddenly the person you’re on a date with sleeps in your bed every night and you catch yourself introducing them to your family as “my boyfriend” and then you have a boyfriend. But as I said, this has very little to do with dating and more about timing.

Feel free to take it slow, maybe try to plan a date once a month and don’t waste too much time talking on the apps. Texting is a gateway drug to never meeting up and sexting some random dude who promises he plays trombone for Bon Iver but isn’t in any pictures when you Google image search the band and actually there’s someone else holding a trombone in that pic. That kind of thing.

Now more than ever, we must put ourselves out there socially or risk spending so much time alone on our phones that our children will only be able to communicate in trending TikTok sounds. Worst case scenario you’ll have something to journal about.

What Catherine Cohen-approved items should I be buying for spring 2022?

Costume jewelry that makes your extremities sparkle, stretchy flared pants, tiny lamps you can flip off before you retire to bed, a coffee maker so you can finally stop spending $4 on the half-cup of black coffee you drink every day, a 5-year journal so you can romanticize the mere fact of your life, an acupressure mat while you’re saving up for a spa day, drapes, cucumbers, accent tables, buttered noodles and a Diet Coke, portraits, poems, large maps (framed on the wall), sconces, throws, lavender syrup, tarot cards, little clear things, cups made of glass (AKA glasses), Yasso bars, envelopes, aviator sunglasses, paperweights, a car to give to me, a cabin to lend to me, this.

My New Year’s resolution was to embrace hotness as a state of mind. Any tips on how to actively practice this? Are New Year's resolutions even worthwhile?

You know what’s cornier than New Year’s resolutions? Saying New Year’s resolutions NeVeR WoRk. Call me Cliché Cohen (pls don’t) but let’s have hope for one single second. What’s the harm in believing for a couple of weeks that we can be better versions of ourselves?

January is the most beautiful name for a month, but it is also a terrible time to be alive. Focusing on self-improvement helps us feel part of something during the natural lull in the holiday cycle. In the no woman’s land between New Years and Valentine’s Day, what else are we supposed to do?

So why not? Do the Yoga with Adrienne 30-day journey, (Sometimes I just watch the video while I kind of lie on the floor. Does yoga make anyone else so horny? I think it’s because the blood rushes to my clit. I’m a doctor), stop drinking for a bit to see why you drink at all, get your steps in.

And resolutions don’t have to be about taking away, they can be about adding—cook more, make more time to stroll with friends, invest in hobbies just for fun (not me ordering an adult water coloring kit online).

Taking care of yourself is hot and unfortunately, the more you do it, the better you will feel. It’s easier to love yourself when you’ve taken the time to actually care for yourself. Today I have a huge zit on my chin and a yeast infection from wearing the same Lulus for 6 days in a row, but I feel so fuckable because I’ve gotten my 10k steps in and journaled about this time in high school when the hottest girl in my grade said I actually would look really pretty bald. Just something to think about!