Illustrator Michelle Tran Talks Style and Her Favorite Texas Escapes
Dallas by design.
No matter what she's wearing, Michelle Tran is always prepared to run. "I have a toddler, Grey, who is 3 years old," says Michelle. "He's in this phase where he loves darting off in public spaces, so I have to be ready to sprint at any given moment," she adds with a laugh. But when she's not chasing her speedy tot around Dallas, this Texan is the creative mind and illustrator behind Neato Bonito (@neatobonito), a colorful, lighthearted brand that celebrates the whimsy she finds in everyday life. "My illustrations bring you back to that feeling of being a child, when everything was magical and full of fun and wonderment," Michelle says. Here, she shares her favorite place for finding approachable style ideas and her best ways to while away a Texas summer.
Where I Look for Style Inspiration
"When I was younger, I loved to read Teen Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and all the other high-end fashion magazines, even though that wasn't what I could wear on a day-to-day basis. Now, I'm inspired by fashion bloggers on Instagram. I think they're so real and down-to-earth, and they feature pieces you can actually go out and buy and wear. One blogger that I really like is Dita Sherlock (@sherlockdiary), who's based in Australia. I just admire her casual, comfortable style. She wears a lot of neutrals, but she also mixes in patterns, like polka dots, which I'm kind of obsessed with too."
The Clothing Item I Loved Most as a Child
"I had this terry cloth jumpsuit: It was short, and it tied up at the shoulders and had that little crinkle thing at the middle. It was my favorite outfit when I was probably 7 or 8 years old. I remember being super sad when I grew out of it, because it was such a fun piece to wear."
The Item I Can't Live Without Now
"I have a loose-knit black sweater that I bought a couple of winters ago and wear so often because it's really versatile. It's very simple, but I can pair it with jeans, other pants, or a skirt."
My Summer Uniform for Hot Dallas Days
"An easy, flowing dress with strappy leather sandals."
My Approach to Art
"I am a lot bolder and more daring in my illustrations than I am in my personal style. I really adore the gorgeous, ornate gowns Gemma Chan chose during awards season, and you can see her influence on my Instagram feed. The dresses are not necessarily something I'd wear, but I love illustrating them just because I can. Putting it down on paper is a very satisfying feeling."
A Dream Illustration Collaboration
"Being licensed through Anthropologie! I love, love going into their stores. The artists they work with all seem to have such a lighthearted, beautiful feel."
How I Spend a Texas Summer
"You can find me at a coffee shop sipping on a cappuccino (iced, if it's really hot) or browsing bookstores, art-supply places, and plant shops. I also enjoy being outdoors: hiking, running, picnicking, and exploring. If we're in Austin, we like going out on the lake or to the Barton Springs Pool."
Current Favorite Beauty Buys
"I get excited about finding new beauty products. Right now, I use a lot from the Paula's Choice Skincare line. I like the fact that she explains how they work and why."
Michelle's Dallas Hot Spots
1. Oasis Plant Shop
2. Weekend Coffee
3. Village Baking Co.
4. Kung Fu Tea
5. DIRT Flowers
6. We Are 1976
7. The Wild Detectives
8. Emporium Pies
9. Dallas Farmers Market
10. Local Press + Brew
A Favorite Quote
"We are not meant to be perfect. We're meant to be whole." —Jane Fonda
The Most Important Lesson My Parents Taught Me
"What I learned from growing up as a child of immigrants is that nothing good comes easy. Anything worthwhile that you want in life will take hard work, but if you're willing to put the effort in, so many amazing things can happen."