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Lisbeth Salander Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Costume and Makeup

Updated on September 18, 2015
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How to Dress Like Lisbeth Salander

Create an authentic Lisbeth Salander costume with this Girl with the Dragon Tattoo costume guide. Here you'll find creative, budget-savvy ideas for recreating Lisbeth Salander's street punk look, including her infamous dragon and wasp tattoos, tribal earrings, facial piercings, chopped hairstyle and bleached eyebrows.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the perfect inspiration for girls wanting a dramatic new look — and with the film's blockbuster status, your Salander-inspired outfit is sure to be a massive hit.

Lots of Black, Lots of Tattered Layers

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Aging Your Costume

☞ Salander's clothes are seriously tattered. Her signature t-shirt has a huge rip by the neck and lots of smaller tears on the shoulders and back and her right combat boot is held together with silver duct tape. Take a pair of scissors, some bleach and a fresh-brewed mug of coffee to your clothes to recreate Lisbeth's grunge look.

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Poll: Why Dress as Salander?

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Lisbeth Salander is the provocative, complicated, computer-hacking heroine of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a New York Times best-selling novel and stunning film starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara.

The best thing about this Girl with the Dragon Tattoo costume is that Lisbeth Salander's essentials are easy to find, cheap and reusable.

To start your Lisbeth look, you'll need five basic components:

  1. leather jacket
  2. zip-up hoodie
  3. thin, loose racerback tank top (or the actual t-shirt worn by Rooney Mara in the movie, not pictured here due to profanity)
  4. loose cargo pants
  5. lace-up black military boots

➔ Black Leather Jacket & Zip-Up Hoodie

Lisbeth Salander's black leather motorcycle jacket is an essential — and potentially expensive — part of your Girl with the Dragon Tattoo costume.

Budget-wary Salanders can save money by scouring thrift stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill. If you plan to distress your motorcycle jacket or aren't interested in making leather part of your daily wardrobe, a solid thrift store find is hands down your best option.

Genuine leather, designer labels and professionally studded motorcycle jackets, on the other hand, will most likely cost you anywhere from $40 to a few hundred dollars.

Regardless of whether you hunt down your Salander-inspired jacket online or in a thrift store, make sure to avoid tailored, girlish coats in favor of a more traditional men's motorcycle jacket. Lisbeth's style is about functionality, not fashion. A square cut jacket with lots of pockets and zippers will look fantastic with your black hoodie and tattered long sleeve shirt.

While you're hunting for the perfect jacket, keep an eye out for a plain zip up hoodie — the more worn-in, the better. An aged, thrift store sweatshirt with a few holes or tattered seams is ideal. Leave it unzipped and pull the hood up to give your costume a grunge feel or keep the hood down to show off your chopped Salander wig.

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➔ Loose Black Tank Top

If keeping warm isn't a priority, opt for a more revealing Salander-inspired top.

In the movie, Salander dons both a boxy sleeveless tank and a thin, loose racerback top — all the better for showing off your dragon tattoo!

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➔ Cargo Pants

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn't dress to impress others, especially not men, and despite the mohawk and piercings, she'd prefer to blend in with the background rather than stand out.

Instead of sexualizing your outfit with a pair of practically painted-on leggings or suffocatingly tight skinny jeans, opt for a loose pair of black or dark gray cargo pants.

➔ Black Lace-Up Combat Boots

The right pair of combat boots will transform even the most dainty girl into a tough, computer-hacking punk — and not only are they fun to stomp around in, they're also incredibly practical.

Any plain, military-style boots will work, but a pair with added buckles, straps, zippers or laces is even better.

Accessorize Like Salander

➔ Tribal Horn Earrings

In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth is rarely seen without her black spiked tribal horn earrings.

To snag a pair of earrings like those worn by Rooney Mara in the movie, check out the wide variety of tribal horn earrings available on Amazon and eBay. Most pairs are reasonably priced between $10 and $25.

81stgeneration Women's Men's Black Horn Fake Taper Stretcher Spiral Round Tribal Earrings
81stgeneration Women's Men's Black Horn Fake Taper Stretcher Spiral Round Tribal Earrings

These beautiful earrings are perfect for your Lisbeth costume -- and they're eligible for free shipping!

 

➔ Distressed Backpack

In the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which takes place in snowy Sweden, Lisbeth Salander relies on a variety of tools to keep herself warm, safe and employed. Salander's essential accessories include an olive green scarf, fingerless gloves, her trusty laptop — a sleek 15-inch MacBook Pro — and the taser she uses to defend herself. To really dress like Lisbeth, stash your gear in a distressed black backpack.

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➔ Infinity Scarf & Fingerless Gloves

Lisbeth wears a thick, dark-colored scarf to keep warm. When choosing your scarf, stick with drab neutrals like gray, olive green or brown to add a small touch of color to an otherwise entirely black outfit. And the thicker the material the better!

Black wrist-length fingerless gloves are also a Lisbeth Salander must-have. Fingerless gloves keep the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's fingers free for computer hacking and self-defense. Prefer to DIY this look? All you need is a pair of scissors and some inexpensive black gloves. When snipping away, be sure to chop off just half of each finger!

American Apparel Women's The Unisex Circle Scarf Size OS Mélange Dark Olive
American Apparel Women's The Unisex Circle Scarf Size OS Mélange Dark Olive

Even after you've retired your Lisbeth Salander costume, this stylish olive green infinity scarf can be worn again and again.

 

Lisbeth Salander's Edgy Hair

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Bleached Eyebrows

If getting an actual dragon tattoo isn't on your to-do list, the most dramatic way to make your Lisbeth Salander costume recognizable is to bleach your eyebrows.

While bleaching is technically permanent, your brows will grow back to normal within four to six weeks.

If you prefer to look like Salander for one night only, you can immediately dye your eyebrows back to their natural color using an inexpensive at-home hair coloring kit (about $10).

Although Lisbeth Salander's hair style changes throughout the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie, her black asymmetrical pixie cut and spiked mohawk are most recognizable.

If you're bold enough to chop and dye your own locks, go for it! Otherwise, buy a cheap black wig and hack away at it with a pair of scissors. Don't forget Salander's super short bangs and make sure your wig is slightly longer on one side to replicate our heroine's flattened mohawk.

If a pixie cut isn't daring enough for you, satisfy your inner street punk with Lisbeth Salander's mohawk. Rooney Mara briefly dons this memorable hairstyle at the beginning of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie. Replicate the look with a cheap mohawk wig — and don't forget to hide your own locks with a wig cap.

➔ Slouchy Knit Beanie

Keep your disheveled 'do under wraps with a baggy beanie like Lisbeth's.

Light gray is Rooney Mara's color of choice in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie, but a charcoal or black beanie will complement your Salander costume equally as well.

Soft Ribbed Ski Beanie Slouch Slouchy Knit Hat Heather Gray
Soft Ribbed Ski Beanie Slouch Slouchy Knit Hat Heather Gray

This slouchy gray ski cap is just the sort of thing Lisbeth would pick up on the streets of Stockholm.

 

Piercings & Tattoos

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Though Rooney Mara actually did pierce her nose, nipple, eyebrow and ears to prepare for her role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you don't need real piercings to look like Lisbeth Salander.

Thanks to the variety of clip-on hoops and magnetic studs on Amazon, you can easily and temporarily recreate Salander's nose, septum, lip and eyebrow piercings.

And while some real ink would be pretty awesome, a temporary replica of Lisbeth Salander's dragon and wasp tattoos will ensure that no one mistakes your costume as something generic. When recreating Salander's tattoos, authenticity is key! Remember that her dragon tattoo covers much of her left shoulder blade while her wasp tattoo is located on the right side of her neck.

Was the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie better than the book?

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    • rihannsu profile image

      rihannsu 3 years ago

      Before I found this lens, I would've said "no." But I am totally in love with those faux leather leggings.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i put your lense in mine, as similar... hope you don't mind?? :-)

    • rooshoo profile image

      rooshoo 4 years ago

      Great book and movie. Really tough character, love her.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I fucking love you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks so much for all the effort you put into this! Love the movie & can't wait for the sequels!

    • profile image

      IsobelDeSantis 4 years ago

      I loved the books and the movie - what a great lens you made!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was on the fence about doing the real tattoo but when I had my tattoo artist draw it on it didn't look right with my shoulder tattoo. But I am doing the Mohawk, and motorcycle pants a helmet (yes I do ride) I'm also in the process of making her motorcycle. Right now all I need is to finish the engine and throw it all together. thanks for the tips this is my Halloween costume and I tend to go all out.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      she never pierced her nose. Just here Nipple, eyebrow and ears.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Alien is the name of the company who makes those helmets.

    • Millionairemomma profile image

      Millionairemomma 5 years ago

      I read the book. Great lens.

    • LeslieMirror profile image

      LeslieMirror 5 years ago

      Wow, it's too much for me. I am more traditional with my style

    • profile image

      petroulakostidou 5 years ago

      don't think so!

    • kevingomes13 lm profile image

      kevingomes13 lm 5 years ago

      Cool Lens. She was just amazing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: found it

      www.helmetshop.de/en/integral-Full-Helmets/

    • wildsimplicity profile image
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      wildsimplicity 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      @anonymous: The helmet worn by Rooney Mara is the Alien XXR Original, which can be found here for $310. Hope that helps! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: have u gotten any information? i too have been searching for the helmet since i saw the american version of the movie

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i'm looking for the helmet dose any body know who it was made by or who sell's it ? please send me the info please at sublime5447@gmail.com

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      The backpack and jacket that Lisbeth Salander / Rooney Mara was wearing in the american version of âThe Girl with the Dragon Tattooâ were designed by the American designer Cerre â http://www.cerre.com

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      CodyMD 5 years ago

      this is well made

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      nelsonkana 5 years ago

      Nice lens here. Am taking a tour of top lenses. This is one of them. I like it.

    • BobZau profile image

      Bob Zau 5 years ago

      Great lens, we just saw the movie. Intense!

    • wildsimplicity profile image
      Author

      wildsimplicity 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      @HealthfulMD: Thank you so much, Comfortdoc!

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      Blessings on an amazing Make your own Halloween Costume.