This post contains affiliate links, because I like money, but I s2g I wrote this post before adding the affiliate links and the monetization does not affect my opinions.
Left photo of Sean Young as Rachael the replicant in Blade Runner (1982) from Pret-a-Reporter
Last October, I decided 11 days before Halloween that I wanted to dress as Rachael, the android/replicant and love interest played by Sean Young in Blade Runner (1982), for the office costume contest at work. I was trying to be hip and topical, given the release of Blade Runner 2049 earlier in the month. It took a lot of last-minute scrambling to assemble a reasonably convincing outfit, but I’m pretty proud of the end result.
As was the case when I was putting together a Halloween costume for Mathilda, as played by Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional, I had trouble finding good, accessible resources for how to put together a Rachael costume, so I decided to write a blog post about it, so that you, too, can dress like a sexy sad robot.
Three notes in advance:
- Rachael has a few looks in the film, but the most recognizable one is from her introduction scene with Deckard, where she takes the Voight-Kampff test to determine if she’s a replicant or a human. This guide tackles the costume from that scene.
- Screencaps are from movie-screencaps.com. Polaroids are originally from Sean Young’s personal website, reposted to this Weebly site, and discovered through Dangerous Minds. All other reference images are captioned and link to their sources.
- This is NOT a cosplay guide. This is a Halloween costume guide for enthusiastic amateurs.
Here’s what you’ll need to dress as Rachael the replicant, as played by Sean Young in Blade Runner (1982):
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
Halloween Costume Cheat Sheet:
RACHAEL, THE REPLICANT
FROM BLADE RUNNER
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
- black blazer with exaggerated shoulders and nipped waist
- black below-the-knee pencil skirt
- black closed-toe pumps
- black snakeskin-textured craft felt, fabric glue
HAIR & MAKEUP:
- long black/dark brown hair OR long black/dark brown wig that can be styled, OR a black/dark brown wig with pre-styled bumper bangs and victory rolls (it probably won’t look quite right unless you DIY the styling, though)
- hairspray, hair rat (or hair donut and minor sewing skills), lots and lots of bobby pins (skip all of these if using a pre-styled wig)
- true red nail polish
- black eyeliner that can be smudged
- matte or satin-finish eyeshadow (dark gray, mid-gray, & light gray), eyeshadow brushes
- false eyelashes, eyelash glue
- dark eyebrow pencil/powder, dark brow gel
- matte or satin-finish red blush, blush brush
- silver- or gold-toned highlighter
- true red lipstick, true red or clear lip gloss
PROPS & ACCESSORIES:
- cigarette (optional)
- feathered brown horned owl (optional)
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
Here’s the look from the movie we’re trying to recreate:
Here they are zoomed in a bit:
Essentially, we’re going for a 1940s-inspired silhouette with 1940s-inspired hair and makeup, but with 1980s contour and Brooke Shields eyebrows.
Let’s start with Rachael’s clothing.
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
When we first meet Rachael, she’s wearing a black skirt suit. The jacket has exaggerated shoulders and a nipped waist, with the hemline of the jacket falling below the hips. There are also shiny black snakeskin-esque fabric details at the collar, shoulders, arms, and sleeve cuffs.
I came across this image through Pinterest, but the original pin unhelpfully links to a Google search result. From what I can tell from digging around, the source image was from MoPOP’s Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction exhibit in Seattle (which, by the way, is an amazing museum). You can see alternate photos of the same costume suit from the exhibit here and here.
In the above Polaroid, you can really see how sharp the shoulders are, and how dramatic the shoulder-to-waist ratio is on this jacket.
In the above and below promotional stills from IMDb, we can see the shiny snakeskin accents and the low-key sheen of the jacket material.
Now, since this is a Halloween costume and not full-on cosplay, I ignored the fact that Rachael’s suit is made of a stiff-looking textured fabric and instead opted for modifying a normal black blazer.
Here’s a link to the exact blazer I purchased on Amazon (currently sold out), but these all appear to be similar if not identical:
The jacket I purchased has light shoulder padding, enormous lapels, and a nipped waist. Sure, it isn’t the right length, but we’re going for overall effect here, not perfect accuracy.
(I strongly suggest buying the cheapest appropriate blazer on Amazon or another online retailer, or finding one secondhand (which is a lot harder), because the alterations will basically ruin it for everyday wear.)
For the first alteration, I folded the lapels up, closing off the front of the blazer, to better mimic the way Rachael’s single-breasted jacket covers everything up to her neck. Then I sewed snaps onto the lapels and the jacket body as marked below, so that I could snap the lapels up and closed (and still be able to get into the jacket).
(See jacket photo further down for a view of the lapels snapped up and closed.)
(It probably would’ve been more movie-accurate if I’d also sewn black buttons down the front center of the jacket, but frankly I think it also would’ve looked weird, considering how I folded the lapels up so there wasn’t actually an opening down the center of the jacket. IMO, adding buttons wouldn’t add enough to the semi-futuristic vibe of the jacket to be worth the effort.)
For the second alteration, I modified the peplum so it was less voluminous and Victorian-looking. I redistributed most of the fabric volume toward the back of the jacket by sewing (very rough) pleats into the peplum as marked below, so that the frontal silhouette would be more 1940s than 1840s. (I’m sure the peplum could’ve been cut and sewn and taken in properly, instead of haphazardly pleated, but that would’ve been too advanced for my sewing skills, and also: It’s just a Halloween costume.)
The final step to making the Amazon blazer look like the one Rachael wears was adding snakeskin-textured felt accents to the collar and sleeves. In the movie, the material of Rachael’s jacket has a light sheen, and the accents appear to be very shiny black snakeskin. I decided it would be fine for both the blazer and the accents to be closer to matte black for this costume (because it would be too hard to source a blazer with both a suitable silhouette and fabric), hence settling for embossed craft felt.
I purchased my craft felt from Beverly’s, but I can’t for the life of me find it anywhere online. It’s just a regular sheet of black craft felt, embossed with an alligator/snakeskin/scale design, for probably no more than $1.50:
I think any black fabric with some texture would work (even a basketweave would probably be fine), especially if it has a slight sheen to it (like vinyl or pleather), but craft felt is cheap and easy to glue, so I suggest checking the kids’ section at your local craft store for felt sheets.
For the costume, you’ll need to cut out the following fabric pieces:
- two long, skinny pieces to cover the collar (two pieces, because if you just use one, it won’t curve over the collar correctly; the two pieces will meet at the center back)
- small strips to trim the sleeves (I forgot to do this, so I daresay they’re optional, but Rachael’s cuffs definitely have trim)
- a large square/diamond for the cravat area
- a right triangle (half of a square, diagonally) for the left shoulder (I also forgot to do this, and I would consider this optional)
- a large square/diamond for the left arm
- two smaller squares/diamonds for the left arm
I strongly suggest marking these pieces out on paper first and making sure they’ll fit onto the blazer, before cutting your felt.
When all the felt pieces are ready, use Fabri-Tac or other fabric glue to attach the felt pieces to the blazer. (I’m sure you could also sew them on, if you’re feeling ambitious.) If necessary (it will probably be necessary), clip or pin the felt pieces in place until the glue dries.
A note: For the left side of the collar (from the wearer’s point of view; see below), the very end of it must be kept loose and unglued, or else you won’t be able to get into the jacket (because the opposite lapel will be in the way). I glued down what I could and then, while wearing the jacket, used a very small safety pin to keep the end of the collar from flapping around.
I wore this with a black t-shirt underneath, but any top will work as long as it doesn’t stick out.
The middle picture most clearly shows the snakeskin bits. Does it look professional? NOT AT ALL!!! Did everyone know who I was dressed as? ABSOLUTELY!!!
In my defense, the side/back of my hair looked better when I first put it up. By the time I took these photos, I’d been through 15 minutes of walking in heels, 45 minutes on public transportation, and 30 minutes of a standing meeting (which was just heinous), so the shape I had meticulously brushed out in the morning had wilted like a week-old box of pre-washed mixed greens.
The next item is Rachael’s skirt. Rachael wears a black pencil skirt that falls below the knee but is not extremely fitted.
To my surprise, I found this skirt from Amazon (the first one pictured below) to be a perfect fit – the material looks higher quality than I expected, the length is perfect, and the material has enough stretch to be practical and comfortable. If you don’t already have a passable pencil skirt in your wardrobe, Amazon has many appropriate-looking, cheap, and Prime-eligible options, such as the ones below:
Left to right:
Left to right:
Any black skirt of the right length and fit will work, as long as its material is similar enough to that of the jacket so they look like a set.
As for Rachael’s shoes, any round- or almond-toe black pumps with a skinny-ish heel and without embellishments or straps ought to work. Regular leather or faux leather would be fine, but in my biased opinion, patent or faux patent leather would look even better. The shoes aren’t the focal point of this outfit, though, so don’t worry too much about getting them perfect.
My black faux patent pumps are from Payless, from like 2007, but here are some more current options under $40:
Now let’s move on to Rachael’s hair and makeup, which are fun to do but which have a bit of a learning curve.
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
Rachael’s hair is very dark brown, styled into two 1940s-style victory rolls which transition into bumper bangs in the front, and what seems to be a low bun at the nape of her neck.
I’ve stared at this photo for about 300 years and I still can’t tell if all those shiny points in her hair are all individual pins or not (they could be hair extension bits? I have no idea how hair works tbh). If they are in fact hair pins, it just proves you should expect to use enough pins to set off a metal detector, which I did once at the airport when I tried to turn my post-pixie-cut-mullet into an updo.
Here’s a partial back view where you can see the back of her hair is pulled into a sort of loose low bun.
I’d never done victory rolls before this costume, and I was dismayed to find that they take quite a bit of practice. If you’re not using a pre-styled wig, I suggest practicing multiple times before you wear the costume out, because it’s pretty involved.
This is the most helpful tutorial I found:
As suggested in the video, it’s best to roll and pin the two victory rolls first, then add the bumper bangs. Don’t skimp on the hairspray and bobby pins, especially if you’re working with straight hair, otherwise the backcombing won’t add enough texture for you to work with.
The placement of the victory rolls is pretty important for a Rachael look, because her hair sits (iconically) VERY high on her head, with basically all of her hair volume going upward, not outward, so experiment with the positioning on your own head ahead of time.
For the bumper bangs, you’ll need to obtain either a hair rat or a hair donut to cut into a tube, as she demonstrates in the video. I ended up cutting a hair donut and then roughly sewing the ends so it wouldn’t unravel (and so that the ends would be slightly narrower, making them easier to slip into the victory rolls).
This is the hair donut set that I bought. I purposely went for a set with multiple sizes of hair donuts, because I wasn’t sure how big of a boost my hair would need. Even with my very long butt-grazing hair, I ended up using the extra large one (with a 3.45-inch diameter, according to the product page), because Rachael’s hair is kind of enormous. Keep in mind that I had quite a lot of hair to bulk up the bumper bangs, so if you have shorter hair you might want to opt for an even larger hair donut.
Note that Rachael’s bumper bangs sort of curve downward in the front, sitting right above her eyebrows, unlike in the video tutorial which features more of a pompadour look with the forehead exposed. Show too much forehead and you’ll just look like you have 1940s hair, not Rachael hair, so make sure to practice ahead of time to get it right. I don’t have any special tips for achieving the downward-curved bumper bangs other than rolling up the bumper bangs like normal, and fiddling with it at the end. That, and use a LOT of pins.
For the back of your hair, check out this 2010 Craftster thread for pictures that demonstrate a very nice transition from victory rolls to a low bun. I’m not sure exactly what’s going on back there, but the bun part looks like it might be some kind of Gibson tuck variation.
A couple hard-earned tips for anyone else working with very long hair:
- When constructing the victory rolls, I suggest starting with your hand near your head instead of near the ends of your hair. Wrap the hair near your head around 4 fingers, than wrap the tail end of the hair around 3, then possibly 2 fingers, as if you’re building a telescope of hair. Slip the small end of the telescope into the large end, and finish shaping the roll high up on your head. Otherwise it’s really hard to neatly roll up super long hair.
- It’s hard to pin a dense victory roll down with regular bobby pins; use the super large/long bobby pins (at least 3″ long) used for holding plastic hair curlers in place instead.
- For the bumper bangs, I suggest raising the hair rat from below eye-level to above eye-level, partway through. Otherwise you’ll probably end up with loose hair at the top; switching positions will help make the bumper bangs tighter.
- I wasn’t too happy with how my low bun turned out, because it didn’t quite fit with the rest of my hair. I should’ve either curled it, or hairsprayed and backcombed it like hell before putting it into a bun or Gibson tuck. (Gibson tucks are hard with super long hair, but I think this trick with multiple elastics should help.)
Moving on to makeup!
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
It’s hard to tell from any of the photos, but Rachael has glossy true red nails. I suggest doing your nails ahead of time with whatever true red nail polish you already own, or the cheapest one you can find at the drugstore, or perhaps one of these:
The intensity of Rachael’s eye makeup varies from scene to scene, but you can see how sooty her eyelashes look, and how her smoky eyeshadow emphasizes her crease but also blends up and out.
See other reference pictures below for additional views of her eye makeup.
Rachael’s eye makeup doesn’t require much precision, which is lucky for me because I barely know what I’m doing. Case in point: I think you’re supposed to apply false eyelashes before doing eyeliner(?), but I had to do it after, because the likelihood that I would mess up the eyeliner was higher than the likelihood I would mess up the lashes.
Anyway, I’ll give these steps in the order I did them:
Start with a thin application of pencil and/or liquid liner. Stop at the outer corner without flicking into a cat-eye (or do a very subtle one if you must).
Apply false eyelashes.
(I suppose this is optional if you have great eyelashes and great mascara, but it’s more dramatic and feathery and doe-eyed with falsies.)
I used Ardell Wispies, as recommended by Cara, and this Korean lash glue, but individual lashes would probably work well too. The Ardell Wispies are SO much more comfortable and lightweight than I ever thought false lashes could be, and I highly recommend them. Here’s a basic tutorial for applying falsies, but protip (also from Cara): Instead of applying glue directly from the tube (which often results in too much glue on the lash base), squeeze out a blob of glue and run the base of the lash through the blob, picking up just a small amount.
Next up is a very smudgy, matte/satin smoky eye in 3 shades of gray.
I had trouble finding reasonably priced matte/satin shadows in the shades I needed, so I went with this palette from a mystery brand on Amazon:
The shades I used were Pebble (light gray, 3rd from left), Graphite (mid-gray, 4th from right), and Carbon (dark gray, far right).
You can use your normal smoky eye technique (keeping in mind that the light gray is for contouring the eye socket, not for highlighting the brow bone) or muddle through my instructions below:
- Apply the mid-gray eyeshadow all over the lid, up to the crease. Blend upward toward the brow bone.
- Apply the dark gray eyeshadow along the upper lashline and in the crease, without defining it too much. Blend it up and out, in a soft cat-eye shape. (I did not do a cat-eye because I wanted to look SUPER SAD, but this looks much better with a subtle cat-eye.)
- Apply the lighter gray eyeshadow on the eyelid socket, and blend it out too. (You could also probably use some kind of taupe color here; we’re just adding dimension to the socket.)
- Using a small eyeshadow brush, apply the mid-gray eyeshadow along the lower lashline, without making it too precise. It should not look like eyeliner; it should look like your other eye makeup has smudged/migrated under your eyes over the course of the day.
Here is a very sad drawing I made to demonstrate what I mean, because I am so bad at makeup that I would rather subject you to this drawing than to photos of my own eyelids:
The eyeshadow should be blended out way more than this drawing indicates, especially the cat-eye. I also didn’t line the lower lashline in that last one. Whoops.
If you’d rather follow a video tutorial from someone who actually knows how to apply makeup, these two tutorials are solid:
Particularly good tips from these videos:
1) Use mascara (or individual falsies) on your lower lashes to make them look extra feathery.
2) You can contour your nose bridge and the tip of your nose a bit to look more like Sean Young.
3) Extend and taper the outer ends of your eyebrows to better mimic Rachael’s.
Finish with black mascara.
(I almost don’t want to include mascara recommendations here because everyone’s eyelashes and preferences are so different, but if your lashes already have decent length and volume, and you’re seeking mascara that’s natural-looking, non-crunchy, and non-flaky, I like Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara in Jet Black ($19 at Sephora), Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Waterproof Mascara in Very Black ($7.99 at Ulta), and Yves Saint Laurent Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils Luxurious Mascara ($32 at Sephora).
But frankly I’d just use whatever cheap mascara you have lying around.)
Fill in your eyebrows as normal, making the top arches of the brows more curved if they are usually angled. Use brow gel, powder, etc. to make your brows look thicker and fuller as necessary.
(I didn’t own a brow gel before this Halloween costume, so I bought the cheapest well-rated one on Amazon for $15, Queen of the Fill Tinted Eyebrow Makeup Gel Cruelty Free (Medium Dark). It is a solid product, and I would absolutely repurchase it for everyday use, but obviously you can go for a more popular product like Glossier Boy Brow or Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel.)
Finish by brushing the brow hairs closest to the center of your face inward (instead of upward) so they look unruly. (See this explanation with photos from The Beauty Department.)
I’m pretty sure I had to follow a couple tutorials for these next blush and highlight steps, but I can’t for the life of me remember or find the original instructions anymore, so I’ll try to explain what I did here.
For Rachael’s face makeup, start with a clean base, using whatever foundation and concealer you normally use. I’d err on the side of being too dewy, but you can always just highlight your way out of a too-matte situation.
Apply highlighter at the tops of your cheekbones, below your brow bones, and along the bridge of your nose. Extend the highlight from your nose bridge up between your brows, and continue outward, partway across the tops of your brows to form a T-shape. VERY IMPORTANT: Add a teensy bit of highlighter to the lower half of your philtrum (the lead image in this post is a good example), your cupid’s bow, and the front of your chin.
Here is another sad drawing to indicate what I mean:
I started using a yellow colored pencil above the left-side eyebrow only to realize it was barely visible, hence the blue. Put this in the MoMA.
(I used ColourPop Super Shock Highlighter in Flexitarian, but you can use whatever highlighter you like, as long as its overcall color is silver, gold, or champagne, whichever works best for your skintone.)
Using a large blush brush, apply matte/satin red blush to the apples of your cheeks, blending upward toward the temples so it looks like 1980s contour. VERY IMPORTANT: Also apply a bit of blush to the tip of your nose and just a smidgen to your chin.
Another sad diagram for reference:
I had trouble finding reasonably priced matte/satin blush in a red enough shade, so I went with this palette from a mystery brand on Amazon:
I used the middle shade on the bottom row. It leans slightly orange, but it’s close enough to true red for this costume.
…It is pretty unfortunate that I photographed this against an orange-red wall, but this rental is all sorts of weird colors and this room had the best light.
Use a true red lipstick or lip pencil as a base for your lip makeup, trying to make your cupid’s bow look more pointed than round. (As suggested in the video, a lip brush may be helpful if you don’t have a red lip pencil.) Top with a non-shimmery red lip gloss or a glossy red liquid lipstick. (Clear gloss would probably work okay too, but I like the extra opacity of red-on-red.)
I used NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Perfect Red (which appears to have been discontinued, but Plush Red looks almost identical), layered over NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella (which I received as a Sephora reward many moons ago).
As you can see below, the red shades I layered don’t even match – I just didn’t own much red lip color when I put together this costume. It didn’t really matter in the end, though, so don’t sweat it too much.
As for recommendations, I can say that ColourPop’s Lippie Stix in Bichette is a decent substitute for NARS Cruella (though I think it leans a little too “cranberry” and not quite enough “brick” to qualify as a proper dupe). ColourPop makes some damn good reds (Bossy is my favorite bright red shade, but it looks like it’s been discontinued), so check out their selection if you want to get something brighter.
Since the red gloss from NYX that I used has been discontinued, here are a few more options that look very similar based on their descriptions and the swatches I could find:
- NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Plush Red (~$8.95 on Amazon)
- NYX Butter Gloss in Red Velvet ($4.99 on Amazon | $4.99 at Ulta)
- L’Oreal Paris Infallible Lip Gloss in Rebel Red ($5.60 on Amazon | $7.99 at Target)
- Milani Brilliant Shine Lip Gloss in Red My Lips ($9.39 on Amazon | $6.99 at Walmart)
Here’s my finished hair and makeup, complete with tons of flyaways (I swear it was much neater when I first put it up!) and very poorly applied eyeshadow (do as I say, not as I do):
…It looks like I did some auto repairs and then rubbed my eyes. In my defense, these photos were taken after 12 HOURS OF WEAR. I really should’ve done a bit of a cat-eye with my eyeshadow, though. Anyway, my makeup looks much fresher in the mirror selfies I took earlier in the day.
Finally, props and accessories!
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
PROPS & ACCESSORIES
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
I didn’t actually have any props or accessories for my own costume, but there are two obvious choices that come to mind:
- a stuffed brown horned owl, because Rachael’s first line in the movie is “Do you like our owl?”, OR
- a cigarette, because Rachael smokes one when she takes the Voight-Kampff test to determine if she’s a replicant.
A cigarette is much easier (and cheaper) to obtain than a stuffed owl that doesn’t look like a child’s toy, so I strongly recommend going with a cigarette if you must have a prop. I have never obtained real cigarettes and thus cannot provide any advice on how to do so, but if you’re looking for prop cigarettes, Amazon has many options:
If for some reason you insist on obtaining an owl prop, you can get taxidermy owls on eBay (I definitely don’t recommend this because they are super expensive and probably not very portable and are also stuffed dead birds), or you can try searching “Halloween owl” or “owl prop” on Amazon or eBay. Target also has $30-$40 options around Halloween (at least based on this and last year’s selection), though I can’t personally vouch for how portable they are.
Here are a couple options currently for sale:
Left to right:
You don’t really need a prop for this costume, though – you’ll be recognizable once you have the combination of black skirt suit + styled hair + red lipstick + dark eyes, so don’t spend too much money going all-in on props unless you’re trying to win a costume contest or something.
(For the record, I lost a costume contest wearing this very costume. Although I guess I lost to a guy wearing a pug mask and a giant gold chain (he was “Notorious P.U.G.”), so hopefully your office has better taste than mine.)
»» — — — ¤ — — — ««
And on that bitter, bitter note, this wraps up my Rachael costume guide!
I’ll be updating this post as I find better options for each of the costume items, and I have vague aspirations of putting together a Deckard costume at some point in the distant future (hopefully before 2049).
If you’re a fan of Blade Runner or Blade Runner 2049 and hoping to dress like Rachael this Halloween, I am so sorry this post is so late, but I hope it’s been helpful for you.
And on the bright side, I managed to post this (just barely) less than a year after I first wore it! Let’s hope I can get this year’s costume of Lara Jean Covey from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before up earlier than late October of next year.