Why I Always Wear a Cat Eye

From a self-proclaimed copycat.

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(Image credit: Archive)

For me, cat eyes have always been about the two c's: character and commitment — they give me the former, and require the latter.

Every time I slash on a winged eye, it helps me step into character. What role am I playing? Old-souled, early twenty-something obsessed with '60s sirens like Cleopatra-era Elizabeth Taylor, factory girl Edie Sedgwick, cover girl Twiggy, man-eating Sophia Loren, and French New Wave goddess Anna Karina. And that's just to name a few… These women all belong to a time that I will never know beyond vintage fashion magazines, biographies, and Pinterest board dives, but when I swipe on a feline flick I feel akin to them.

In that sense, I'm a self-professed copycat, but over time, the classic technique has come to feel distinctly me. An inky slant not only complements the neo-vintage personal style I'm drawn to, but my almond-shaped eyes and pronounced eyebrows as well. It's a signature to my look that's timeless and characteristic all the same.

In truth, I didn't always have the confidence to pull off the cat eye. Since high school, I've graduated into different renditions of the feline-inspired look. But no matter how big or small the swoop is, whether it's matte or smoky, it begs for attitude and that comes with time as well.

As far as committing to the look, applying cat eyes each morning is a hard-fought battle, and that's a shared sentiment. One day I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and found the below musing printed over a close up of a cat eye: "Never ask a girl with winged eyeliner why she's late…" Truer words have never been spoken. While I've gotten better over the years, mastering a sharp, precise line on the upper lashline is tough There's just no way around it. You can spend ten minutes on each eye only to discover that there's not even reasonable symmetry. Ironically, I'm always the girl pinched for time, and in turn have become accustomed to keeping a steady hand on public transportation.

Once an elderly woman watched me apply my liner in transit, one hand holding the wand, the other holding a pocket mirror, train in-motion. When I was done, she caught my attention and told me, "That was impressive, young lady." And after years of trial and error — like, pitch-black splatters on the face, inky tears streaming down the cheeks — I couldn't help but agree. A cat eye will always be my labor of love, but it's one that I'm happy to share with legions of stylish women.

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(Image credit: Archive)

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Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.