Ask Catherine Cohen: How Do You Find Your Personal Style?
The comedian tackles questions about love, sex, style, and doppelgänger exes.
Comedian and actress Catherine Cohen has made a name for herself as a sharp, irreverent chronicler of the often bizarre experience of being a 20-something woman. As the host of Cabernet Cabaret, a weekly stand-up show at New York City’s Club Cumming, she performs brassy, original showtunes about rejection (“boys never wanted to kiss me, so now I do comedy”), UTIs and wanting to run away from her problems by going apple picking with “13 of her closest friends and six of their sexual partners.” With fellow comedian Pat Regan, she hosts the cult hit podcast Seek Treatment, on which the pair discuss “boys, sex, fucking, dating, and love” with their guests. Here, she tackles reader questions in the same vein. She’s not an expert. But she does know what she’s talking about.
Have a question for Catherine? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend is coming up to where we live this weekend. They’re going for lunch and he doesn’t want her to know about me to protect her from “gratuitous pain.” They broke up in July. SHE broke up with him. I don’t see why my existence should be hidden from her? I mean, I don’t expect him to make a point of talking about me, but if it comes up organically then why not? Do I have a right to feel uneasy here? Also, EVERYONE says we are doppelgängers. Which is weird. —Distressed Current Girlfriend
Dear Distressed Current Girlfriend (amazing potential band name),
Baby Gorl. This is redflag.com and everything you’re feeling is spot on. Your boyfriend needs to tell his ex that he is seeing someone new. Hiding that info from her is psycho-vibes and I don’t trust it. Tell him how you feel and if he doesn’t budge, maybe he’s not ready to be in a new relationship. Your boyfriend is my new enemy, but I wouldn’t worry about the doppelgänger thing. Most of us have a type. But what do I know? I tried to “unlearn jealousy” in 2015 and ended up getting blackout drunk and screaming at a stranger at a pottery event. xo
How do I get over a man who I’ve been off and on with for 6 months now who just ended things with me because he “isn’t feeling it?” And how do I remind myself how hot I am without absolutely begging for male attention? —Sara
Dear Sara without an h (minimalist chic),
My sweet, darling girl. The guy who ended things with you is a loser. Sadly, having sex with losers can be amazing—cut to me fucking a 40-year-old-man who didn’t have a mattress because “they take up too much space”—but ultimately, being “off and on” with someone is more trouble than it’s worth and you DESERVE (I’m sobbing as I write this) more. This guy (RIP) has given you a GIFT by ending things, because now you’re free to find someone who has a real mattress and even a bed frame (sorry I keep making this about me JK).
Getting over someone sucks, even when you don’t really want to be with them. It’s an ego thing. And the best way to grab your lil’ ego and kiss it on the mouth is by doing things that make you feel hot. Things that have nothing to do with male attention—go for a long run and pretend you’re a young law student with no known blood relatives who is about to win a case that could change everything. Put on a beret and go to a café with a fireplace and read a book about a powerful woman who had her heart broken and lived to tell the tale (my fave is Bluets by Maggie Nelson). You can read the book or even just hold the book, look out the nearest window, think about the vastness of time, contemplate your smallness, sigh, etc. Do whatever makes you feel the most you. That is HOT and that will attract sexy attention from potential suitors whether you like it or not! Sorry, I don’t make the rules!
I recently turned 24 and am having a quarter-life crisis. The people in my age group vary WILDLY in terms of what they have done or accomplished but I still somehow feel behind. It’s making me look at Pinterest and imagine marrying someone in the army. I used to describe myself as a writer but now that feels foreign to me. False, even. How do I find inspiration to feel and love life like art and not compare myself as much? —Anonymous
Dear Anonymous Queen,
Okay, you’re 24 so you were literally just born. Welcome to earth—it’s cold sometimes and hot sometimes and there are places you can go that just sell juice! I know it’s literally impossible not to compare yourself to others, but trust you are on your own…drumroll please…path. It’s not an original thought, which just means it’s true, baby!! I used to be really jealous of this girl because she could run a seven-minute mile, but now I don’t know what she’s even up to. Is that helpful?
The point is, there’s no rush and there are no rules (don’t do murder, though). Stay curious. Ask questions. Journal every day and don’t freak out if you don’t do it every day. Describe yourself as a writer, describe yourself as married to someone in the army, you decide who you get to be and you can change that as often as you like. Do what makes you feel good and do something different if that stops feeling good! Death is inevitable!
How do you find your personal style? I feel like it takes most people until their 30s to get it right but I’m trying to look like the best version of me at 23. —#23andme
Send help because I’m addicted to this question! I wasted my youth wearing rolled-up gym shorts and oversized Christian summer camp t-shirts even though I had plastered the walls of my bedroom with spreads from Teen Vogue all because I was afraid of trying something new. Now I would describe my personal style as “chaise lounge but make it human girl” or “velvet dinner party argument” but these things evolve and the only way to find your own vibe is to experiment—watch movies starring women from the past, dive into the chaos that is the Instagram explore page, copy what you like and scrap what you don’t.
I always get a bit nervous to incorporate something new into my Look (shoutout to adult headbands, knee-high white go-go boots, that summer I wore socks with sandals, etc.), but my rule is that once you wear something twice it’s just like…something you wear. Feel free to embroider that on a pillow. AND if anyone makes a comment (or worse, a joke) about your new Look, understand that they’re simply jealous of your confidence and wish they had a drippy-droplet of joie de vivre in their bland-ass bloodstream. Ultimately, I can’t decide if life is short or long but I do think that it can be really boring and the best antidote to boredom is a bold outfit. So do feel free to go absolutely off.