Holly & Tanager makes luxury work and travel bags that can easily transition through a busy woman's day - here's why they're worth the higher cost

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Holly and Tanager ReviewHolly and Tanager

  • Holly & Tanager is a Chicago-based bag startup that makes stylish and functional luxury work, daytime, and travel bags for women.
  • The bags are made from Italian leather and range in price from $85 for the Insider Card Holder Wallet, to $550 for the Professional Convertible Backpack Purse. They're pricey, but versatile.
  • As a team of busy city-dwellers who are constantly on the go, we tested out the bags under real-life conditions and found that they lived up to their promise of style and functionality.

It's hard to come across a luxury work bag these days that seamlessly blends style with function. Most of the ones that keep up with fashion's newest trends aren't utilitarian enough. At the other end of the spectrum, you'll find plenty of bags that are convenient and efficient, yet drastically miss the mark on style points.

This is the gap in the market that Holly & Tanager seeks to fill.

A Chicago-based company with founders who know what it's like to be on the go all the time, Holly & Tanager makes timeless and versatile work and travel bags for busy women. The current collection comprises six adaptable bags made from Italian leather, along with suite of wallets, tech accessories, and travel essentials. With prices ranging from $85 for a wallet to $550 for a convertible backpack/purse, the styles definitely aren't cheap - but they're not Prada, either.

Though the designs continuously evolve based on customer feedback, the initial blueprints were inspired by the daily annoyances that founders Lindsay Lingle and Kathryn Rogers faced.

"We experienced the pain of not having a handbag that was practical, organized, and versatile for our travel lifestyle," Lingle and Rogers told Business Insider. "We saw that other women were facing the same issue of merging function with fashion in their daily lives, so we decided to create a solution to allow them to own their day - not the other way around."

I describe myself as an avid traveler, and when I'm not hopping on a plane, my day-to-day consists of chaotic commutes and spur-of-the-moment grocery runs. I genuinely identify with the troubles voiced by other active women, which is why I was eager to see if something as simple as a bag could actually take some strain out of my routine.

HollyTanager Comparison PictureHolly and TanagerThe Professional, $550

I was given the chance to to try The Professional ($550)- the company's top seller and a favorite of the founders. The bag converts from a backpack to a tote to a crossbody in a few effortless steps, which is ideal for anyone that doesn't get the chance to drop off their stuff at home throughout the day.

The style was on point, but the real reason I love the bag is its basic functionality. The Professional has five interior pockets, four smaller slip pockets, a laptop sleeve, suitcase handle sleeve, and a bottom compartment. All my work items fit seamlessly and stayed organized in the main compartment, and the bottom section is perfect for my water bottle and umbrella. It's expensive, yes, but I like to think of it as three bags in one. The value will depend on how much you use it, but a style as versatile as this one is bound to get a lot of wear.

I asked a few of my coworkers to test some of the other bags, and to share what functions they appreciated most from the Holly & Tanager bags they used.

Holly & TanagerHolly & Tanager

Insider Picks reporter Connie Chen tried The Wanderer ($350):

The Wanderer ($350) first caught my eye because of its cool and sharp angular front flap, and that's what anyone else who admires the bag points out first, too. On the front, there are also angular pockets where I stash my building ID and Metrocard for easy access, while the interior's zippered and slip pockets keep my other essentials well-organized.

Though slim, the structured bag can also hold everything I need for a day out (wallet, Kindle, small water bottle, sunglasses, etc.), and its soft leather construction and adjustable strap feel comfortable against my body. My one critique is that the flap magnets don't easily line up with the bag, so I have to be more intentional about closing it. Overall, however, I love the look and functionality so much that it's a small gripe to deal with.

Holly & TanagerHolly & Tanager

Insider Picks reporter Mara Leighton tried the Convertible Belt Bag ($240):

This Convertible Belt Bag ($240) has quickly risen through the ranks of my most useful belongings. The adjustable belt makes it easy to transition between belt bag, crossbody, purse, or clutch depending on the day's needs - and the strap is thick enough to remain stable even when slung slightly loose around my hips. In only a couple of weeks I've already used it as a crossbody, purse, and my carry-on companion since it perfectly fits a passport, wallet, keys, lip balm, and headphones (bonus that it goes unnoticed if you're already pushing the two-bag rule). And when I head to Europe this summer, this is the bag I plan on taking out for morning-to-night tourism.

Holly & TanagerHolly & Tanager

Insider Picks reporter Remi Rosmarin tried the Explorer ($295):

The Explorer ($295) comes in a range of neutrals and more unique, bright shades, in both patent leather and suede. I went for the emerald green color in the crinkly, patent leather.

The green is a really rich color that is still neutral enough to wear with almost any outfit, and the patent leather adds a nice sheen. The bag can we worn as a clutch, crossbody, or extended crossbody (where the fold-over is pulled upright to create more room), and it's super easy to convert. I love the versatility and size of this bag - it's more than enough room for a day's worth of essentials, whatever way you choose to hold it. My only qualm is I didn't find the extended crossbody style to work naturally - the top part of the angled flap didn't fold over seamlessly, which made it look a little awkward. Personally, I probably wouldn't wear the bag as an extended crossbody anyway - the regular crossbody is more than roomy enough for me - so I can easily ignore this aspect and enjoy the bag in the other two styles.

The bottom line

It's clear that Holly & Tanager prioritizes quality and style, and that all its bags are designed with utility in mind. If you're looking for a great, splurge-worthy work bag, you've come to the right place.

It also doesn't hurt that the company is committed to supporting the empowerment of women and youth through their partnership with After School Matters. The non-profit organization provides Chicago high school teens with after-school opportunities that encourage communication, leadership, education, and sports involvement. You can purchase their Girl Power Canvas Tote for $10 and all the proceeds from the bag go to After School Matters.

Check out all the styles on the Holly & Tanager site.

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at insiderpicks@businessinsider.com.

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