The former Disney and now “Cobra Kai” star experiments with her style based on her many, many characters — plus shares which early-2000s trends she’s into (and the one’s she’s not).
We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what’s “you”? These are some of the questions we’re putting to prominent figures in our column “How I Shop.”
Just a heads up: Make sure to aside a fair amount of time if you’re scrolling through Peyton List‘s ever-growing IMDb listing. The actor and singer has really racked up the credits during her 17 years in the biz. At just 21, she’s essentially already a Hollywood vet — from playing a main character’s daughter in the Patricia Field costume designed-series “Cashmere Mafia” and appearing in a 2009 episode of “Gossip Girl” (when Serena and Nate give Carter Baizen an assist) to her career really taking off at the beginning of the 2010s when she joined the Disney fam.
Most might know List from when she starred as Holly Hills in two installments of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” followed by the role of big sis Emma Ross on the New York City-set TV series “Jessie.” As Emma, she crossed over to an appearance on fellow Disney alum Zendaya‘s “K.C. Undercover” and starred in a spin-off, “Bunk’d,” in which her character rises from fashion-forward camp counselor to international supermodel in Milan. (IRL, List’s resumé also includes some modeling gigs, with credits including Gen Z-faves Justice and American Girl.) Last year, she joined the second season of the popular YouTube Premium “Karate Kid”-spinoff series “Cobra Kai” as fan-favorite Tory, a headstrong kickboxer and love interest. List also stars in the Hulu teen horror series, “Light as a Feather.”
Oh, and she also does music: List dropped her first electro-poppy single, “Liar Liar,” in 2018 and followed up in August 2019 with her debut music video, “Don’t Cry.” The heavily-stylized video, which List also creative directed, includes very Marilyn Monroe-inspired ’50s glam and a pure fire pantsuit.
Along the way, List has racked up 16.3 million (and counting) Instagram followers, plus loads of frequent flyer miles traveling to film shoots — i.e. shopping locations, which she discusses below — and non-stop amounts of fashion inspiration to constantly experiment with her personal style. Although, when she jumped on the phone with Fashionista during a quiet moment in her Los Angeles home before starting work on “Cobra Kai” season three, List was luxuriating in her favorite wardrobe basic: “I’m wearing these sweatpants. Oh my gosh, they’re so comfy,” she says.
Read on below to learn more about where the multi-hyphenate finds the best thrifting deals across the country, how her characters make their way into her own closet and what early-2000s “vintage” List is wearing these days.
“My personal style is a range of vintage and thrifted pieces — a mixture of ’50s and ’70s styles, with modern pieces thrown in. I travel to a lot of small towns for filming and there are a lot of cool vintage stores [there] that are more untouched. I also go to thrift stores in Los Angeles; I drive around my neighborhood. I live close to Highland Park and Silver Lake and there are a lot of thrift and vintage stores here, so I just do a lot of hunting and exploring. You really have to dig.
I was filming a pilot in Toronto recently and they always say, ‘Go to Kensington. It’s a whole strip and you’ll find the most amazing things.’ The neighborhood has all these older houses that have been turned into vintage stores. I found the best pair of high-waisted Levi’s jeans there. They distressed the jeans at one of the stores. I take them everywhere. When you go into thrift stores, you have try on a bunch of jeans, because you never know how things are going to fit. It’s so hit or miss. But those just fit my body perfectly, [they’re] my go-to’s. Although, it wasn’t the best deal there [is], I have to say. It was still decent.
Usually in a city, they know what they can get, but the smaller towns are where I find things for an insane deal. One year, I was traveling in Tennessee and there were all these antique and vintage stores. I found the most amazing gowns and dresses. It’s just so fun to go into these stores and have a huge party and try on everything. But, definitely, if I go through my old red carpet photos — even my Instagram — I’ll find so many stories behind each little piece and, a lot of the times, what I wear on the red carpet, I pick out for myself.
I usually only try to buy one or two things when I go out shopping. I try to keep my closet more limited [to a] small amount of things that I really love. I buy everything in-store — I love to try things on and see it in person, especially with shoes, which I feel is so weird because all my friends really only online shop now. I don’t usually shop in L.A., actually.
I buy a pair [of shoes] whenever I’m traveling and off working on something. That will remind me of that [project] and it will be special to me. I was just doing a movie called ‘Paper Spiders,’ in Syracuse, New York and I bought these Loeffler Randall sandals. They’re leopard. I’ve been wearing them non-stop. I did this movie called ‘Anthem of a Teenage Prophet” and it was a ’90s piece — which is so weird to say that it’s ‘period,’ but I guess it is period. I had a bunch of older corduroy jackets that I found. I’ll wear with them with high-waisted flare jeans and a bodysuit. That’s pretty much my go-to look, honestly.
It’s so funny, I don’t know about everyone, but I subconsciously end up dressing like my characters. When I’m looking in my closet, I bought a lot of things that Tory would wear, from that period of playing her [on ‘Cobra Kai’]. When I was filming, I have never worn so much athleisure because I was constantly training and working out. I’m also in ripped jeans and a tank top with a cool design on it whenever on that show. My character is a badass who will just fight anyone in her way, so I wear more and more black and more and more ripped things as the show goes on. I worked on [‘Cobra Kai’] for a good amount of last year and I’m about to go back, so even personally, that character made me a little bit stronger and little bit tougher in my personal life, which is so funny that kind of bleeds into it.
I’ve become so obsessed with so many looks for the characters. I have a Pinterest board for every character I play. I get so involved in the looks. I have so much fun with that because [it] really does help me so much when getting into it and when I’m starting a project. I love the prep. Then, when I move onto what’s next, I’ll start dressing like that. That’s why if you come into my closet, you’d just be like, ‘What is this girl’s style?!’ I’m actually now looking in my closet and I have a couple fishnet-ed black tops and a really, tulle-y fluffy pink top, so it doesn’t make any sense.I have an old Pinterest board of the early-2000s. I love the early-2000s looks, like, all the ‘Euphoria‘ looks. I’ll get behind it and, in a couple years, I’ll go, ‘Ooh, that wasn’t the best look for you.’ I feel like, typically, it’s better to stick with the classic pieces that I know look good on me. But I’ll still go for the risky, trendy thing and then regret it later. I do it every time. But I like having fun with clothes and I’ll always try something out.
I have this little blue and yellow leopard dress with butterflies and I wore it with a T-shirt underneath. I wore it for Pride.
I don’t know if I can get behind the low-rise jeans, though. I don’t find them flattering at all. I have recently been looking back at early-2000s Avril Lavigne, ‘Oh, that was a look.’ Even Gwen Stefani‘s little bustier with her lace-up pants. The cheesy messages on the shirts. I love the big, big rhinestone heart earrings. The Fila or Buffalo sneakers with a dress — I’d get behind that, too. I have a pair of those. That’s one thing I might regret. I bought them because the lady at the store was encouraging me to. I was like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know if I can pull this off.’ I might wear the sneakers out with silky dress and call it a day.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.