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We are cruising on the Harmony on August 4th. Myself, husband and 12 & 13 year old. I have several questions I'm having a hard time finding answers to.... please help if you can 🙂

1. Communication? We can't afford the VOOM package for all four of us but we have to communicate with the kids. Most are saying the texting doesn't work well on the new app. We have android so can't try the "free" iphone hack. If the app doesn't give you a notification of a message how is that even helpful? Isn't the best part of cruising NOT checking your phone every five minutes 😉

2. Photo Package? We've had good and bad experiences with ship photographers. I don't want to buy the package for digital prints before we go in case we don' t have many good ones. However, the price is totally worth it compared to hiring a photographer here at home. Can we purchase at the end of the cruise and if so, is it less expensive?

3. "Teen" activities? I'm hearing many people mention the teen activities end up being all together and not separated between 12-14 and 15-17. My newly 12 year old is not ready for, nor has any interest in hanging out around 17 year olds. Anyone have experience with that? This is our first trip without the kids in the "Kids" club. 

4. App schedule? Your experience with the app... So far our dinner and show reservations are accurate on the app. Many have mentioned the on board activities in the cruise compass do not align with the app. What was your experience? And, once on board and we "add them to our calendar" will they show up on our personal calendar similar to our dining reservation?

5. Clothes? Any tips on getting very active teens to dress nicely? They only wear t-shirts and athletic shorts without argument. I can get my son to wear "golf" shirts but still with athletic shorts 😞

6. Themes? Are there theme nights we really need to prepare for?

Any other tips greatly appreciated. We aren't new to this but new to teens and a giant boat!!!

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Some users have reported WhatsApp on Android works like the iPhone hack, worth a shot, just get it working before you sail since it sends a text to authenticate during setup.  Do try the Royal app chat feature.  With so many different users on different phones just because someone else didn't get notifications doesn't mean you won't.  

For activities I wouldn't rely on the app yet, stick with the paper cruise compasses.  I often take a picture with my phone so I have the paper compass with me all the time.  

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34 minutes ago, maeffron said:

1. Communication? We can't afford the VOOM package for all four of us but we have to communicate with the kids. Most are saying the texting doesn't work well on the new app. We have android so can't try the "free" iphone hack. If the app doesn't give you a notification of a message how is that even helpful? Isn't the best part of cruising NOT checking your phone every five minutes 😉

Remember..cruises did exist prior to ubiquitous cell phone usage!  There are lots of ways to keep tabs..let the kids have a bit of freedom but designate specific times and places that they must meet up with you and check in.  They can then let you know what their plans are and where they will be.  Or do that through the app..tell them to check it every other hour and make sure they respond to any messages you sent.  

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4 hours ago, maeffron said:

We are cruising on the Harmony on August 4th. Myself, husband and 12 & 13 year old. I have several questions I'm having a hard time finding answers to.... please help if you can 🙂

1. Communication? We can't afford the VOOM package for all four of us but we have to communicate with the kids. Most are saying the texting doesn't work well on the new app. We have android so can't try the "free" iphone hack. If the app doesn't give you a notification of a message how is that even helpful? Isn't the best part of cruising NOT checking your phone every five minutes 😉

2. Photo Package? We've had good and bad experiences with ship photographers. I don't want to buy the package for digital prints before we go in case we don' t have many good ones. However, the price is totally worth it compared to hiring a photographer here at home. Can we purchase at the end of the cruise and if so, is it less expensive?

3. "Teen" activities? I'm hearing many people mention the teen activities end up being all together and not separated between 12-14 and 15-17. My newly 12 year old is not ready for, nor has any interest in hanging out around 17 year olds. Anyone have experience with that? This is our first trip without the kids in the "Kids" club. 

4. App schedule? Your experience with the app... So far our dinner and show reservations are accurate on the app. Many have mentioned the on board activities in the cruise compass do not align with the app. What was your experience? And, once on board and we "add them to our calendar" will they show up on our personal calendar similar to our dining reservation?

5. Clothes? Any tips on getting very active teens to dress nicely? They only wear t-shirts and athletic shorts without argument. I can get my son to wear "golf" shirts but still with athletic shorts 😞

6. Themes? Are there theme nights we really need to prepare for?

Any other tips greatly appreciated. We aren't new to this but new to teens and a giant boat!!!

Regarding #5, I recommend you set a good example, pack appropriate clothes for formal night, but not fight every battle if the kids don't fully comply.  Positive reinforcement for good behavior and all that.....I remember arguing with my Eagle scout son when he wanted to go to the Troop meeting in a t-shirt, and I regret making an issue about their "dress code" (always wear a scout shirt).

There are casual nights like Caribbean night for Caribbean cruises.  The "white party" is very late (11 PM on the Harmony) and I've never attended.  There can be theme dances like 70's, 80's, or 50's, but not that many people dress up.  You can and you will probably get your photo taken...

There are other threads that discuss photo packages.   If you are willing to wait in line, you can get some very nice family portraits.  If you aren't sure about buying a package online, you can wait until you get to the ship.

Regarding on board communication with our teen son, we simply agreed to meet for dinner; otherwise, he was on his own, especially with the teen group.  As he got older (16-17), he stayed out until curfew.  You may need an occasional discussion about a reasonable hour to return, but I don't see a 12 or 13-year old pushing the limits too far.  Bon voyage!

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9 hours ago, maeffron said:

Teen" activities? I'm hearing many people mention the teen activities end up being all together and not separated between 12-14 and 15-17. My newly 12 year old is not ready for, nor has any interest in hanging out around 17 year olds. Anyone have experience with that? This is our first trip without the kids in the "Kids" club. 

My guess is that because you are traveling in summer when there are a lot of teens on the ship, that they will keep them separated from the older teens.  Have them go to the first night at the teen center... They will definitely meet other 12-14 year old boys to hang with.

In terms of communication, we didn't have voom on our first couple cruises.  We set times on where and when to check in... Made easier on sea days because I pretty much never left my deck chair lol... And my teen made it work.  

As people have said... The app isn't great in terms of listing everything and is quite often simply wrong on times so go with the compass.

In terms of dress... Take a pair of jeans if they will wear those and a decent polo shirt... That should be fine!  Just state it as the expectation no shorts and the kids will roll or mine did lol!  

Let me know if I can answer anything else... Just going by my experiences.  We were on allure in March with my 16 year old and I pretty much never saw her.  The bigger boats make it more tricky but it can work!  Have a great trip! Jane

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Question#5

 

Are they your kids? Did you pay for the cruise? What's the question here....they don't respect or obey you?

 

Not sure this is a question for a cruise site....sounds more like an attitude and discipline question...if they wont do what you ask or want them to do when it comes to putting on a pair of pants...my god.......:34_rolling_eyes:

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44 minutes ago, monctonguy said:

Question#5

 

Are they your kids? Did you pay for the cruise? What's the question here....they don't respect or obey you?

 

Not sure this is a question for a cruise site....sounds more like an attitude and discipline question...if they wont do what you ask or want them to do when it comes to putting on a pair of pants...my god.......:34_rolling_eyes:

Welcome to 2019. 

 

I blame social media, reality tv and YouTube. And don’t blame the parenting as we have 4, all different but with the same environment / upbringing!

 

Im just glad to hear it’s not just us 🙂

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20 minutes ago, Nikkoo said:

Welcome to 2019. 

 

I blame social media, reality tv and YouTube. And don’t blame the parenting as we have 4, all different but with the same environment / upbringing!

 

Im just glad to hear it’s not just us 🙂

Definitely not just you lol!!!   Jane

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19 hours ago, maeffron said:

1. Communication? We can't afford the VOOM package for all four of us but we have to communicate with the kids. Most are saying the texting doesn't work well on the new app. We have android so can't try the "free" iphone hack. If the app doesn't give you a notification of a message how is that even helpful? Isn't the best part of cruising NOT checking your phone every five minutes 😉

Leave messages on stateroom phones, or buy a whiteboard to leave on your door.

19 hours ago, maeffron said:

2. Photo Package? We've had good and bad experiences with ship photographers. I don't want to buy the package for digital prints before we go in case we don' t have many good ones. However, the price is totally worth it compared to hiring a photographer here at home. Can we purchase at the end of the cruise and if so, is it less expensive?

Definitely not less expensive. It's the opposite. By the end of the cruise you would know if photo package is worth it. The best price is before the cruise because more of a gamble.

19 hours ago, maeffron said:

3. "Teen" activities? I'm hearing many people mention the teen activities end up being all together and not separated between 12-14 and 15-17. My newly 12 year old is not ready for, nor has any interest in hanging out around 17 year olds. Anyone have experience with that? This is our first trip without the kids in the "Kids" club. 

The majority of activities for kids and teens is part of the children programming in Adventure Ocean and Teen Club. There are some teen events listed in Cruise Planner, but if your kids want to find things to do with kids their age, the club is where it's at.

19 hours ago, maeffron said:

4. App schedule? Your experience with the app... So far our dinner and show reservations are accurate on the app. Many have mentioned the on board activities in the cruise compass do not align with the app. What was your experience? And, once on board and we "add them to our calendar" will they show up on our personal calendar similar to our dining reservation?

I consult both the app and compass. I tend to rely on the app more than the compass, just because I rarely carry the compass with me.

19 hours ago, maeffron said:

Any tips on getting very active teens to dress nicely?

Polo shirts and khakis. It's not exactly black tie and satisfies any dress code onboard.

19 hours ago, maeffron said:

6. Themes? Are there theme nights we really need to prepare for?

Consult a past Cruise Compass from a recent sailing on which theme nights to expect. https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/cruise-compass

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21 hours ago, maeffron said:

We are cruising on the Harmony on August 4th. Myself, husband and 12 & 13 year old. I have several questions I'm having a hard time finding answers to.... please help if you can 🙂

1. Communication? We can't afford the VOOM package for all four of us but we have to communicate with the kids. Most are saying the texting doesn't work well on the new app. We have android so can't try the "free" iphone hack. If the app doesn't give you a notification of a message how is that even helpful? Isn't the best part of cruising NOT checking your phone every five minutes 😉

2. Photo Package? We've had good and bad experiences with ship photographers. I don't want to buy the package for digital prints before we go in case we don' t have many good ones. However, the price is totally worth it compared to hiring a photographer here at home. Can we purchase at the end of the cruise and if so, is it less expensive?

3. "Teen" activities? I'm hearing many people mention the teen activities end up being all together and not separated between 12-14 and 15-17. My newly 12 year old is not ready for, nor has any interest in hanging out around 17 year olds. Anyone have experience with that? This is our first trip without the kids in the "Kids" club. 

4. App schedule? Your experience with the app... So far our dinner and show reservations are accurate on the app. Many have mentioned the on board activities in the cruise compass do not align with the app. What was your experience? And, once on board and we "add them to our calendar" will they show up on our personal calendar similar to our dining reservation?

5. Clothes? Any tips on getting very active teens to dress nicely? They only wear t-shirts and athletic shorts without argument. I can get my son to wear "golf" shirts but still with athletic shorts 😞

6. Themes? Are there theme nights we really need to prepare for?

Any other tips greatly appreciated. We aren't new to this but new to teens and a giant boat!!!

#1: Hopefully the chat feature on the app will be working by then. Otherwise, like people have said; set designated times to check in, leave voice mails on room phones, leave notes/messages on sticky notes or white boards either in or outside of the room. 

#2: Rarely is anything cheaper on the boat. But we never get the photo package.... we take too many selfies on our own already. lol. 

#3: No kids for us... so no comment. 

#4: I usually trust the daily cruise compass more than the app. The app may get better in the future... but I have found that over the last 3 cruises with RCI in the last 2 years, the app is fairly useless for daily planning. Rarely did it even show all the activities that the CC had. And of course, when I compared... the ones I were mainly interested in, were def. NOT on the apps. schedule. 

#5: You're the parent... if you want them to dress appropriately for the dining room.... then MAKE them dress appropriately.  As others have already said, a nice pair of Khaki or dress shorts and a golf shirt will work for any of the dinning venues. 

#6; Most people really only prep for 'formal' night. Some people barely dress up, some folks go ALL-OUT!!!. But its your vacation... dress how you want. Sometimes there is a Caribbean night, and some folks will wear a tropical shirt to dinner. (But thats me EVERY night on a cruise!) 😉

You can look at previous cruise compasses on Matt's site here: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/cruise-compass

That will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect each day on your cruise. Have fun!

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7 hours ago, vanelli56 said:

 

#5: You're the parent... if you want them to dress appropriately for the dining room.... then MAKE them dress appropriately.  As others have already said, a nice pair of Khaki or dress shorts and a golf shirt will work for any of the dinning venues. 

Again I feel the need to step in here. If you have teenage children, right now in 2019, then feel free to comment and give advice. If you don’t have children or have children that grew up many years ago please don’t make comments that make others feel bad. The OP was asking for help / a carrot, not a stick to hit them with. If your children are robots that just do what they are told think about their future too, and present for that matter.  Spare the rod ruin the child is a very old saying for a reason. 

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For #5, I dont have children in 2019 however, perhaps a bit of alternate advice rather than making the child miserable by putting them in something they hate.  You want to do formal night, GREAT!  Kids, go to Sorrentos, the WJ, or have room service for dinner.  If they're teenagers, I'm sure they're responsible enough to be left alone for 2-3 hours while those wishing to partake in formal night can.  You can express to them that you'd really like if they participated in formal night together as a family, but its their choice.   That said, sometimes a bribe works as well.  A bribe of a mocktail with dinner, a nice souvenir or something like that. 

Also, there are places like ThinkGeek that make polo shirts and even formalwear with a nerd culture or video game theme if your kids are into that.  I'm 40+ and I'm still young at heart enough to enjoy those clothes.  If they're into sports, almost all sports teams stores carry polo shirts with a team logo to indulge in their sporty nature.   Formal night doesnt have to mean slapping on a suit, especially for kids, they're a little more lenient.  How about "nice jeans".  Black jeans go with any polo shirt!  

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In the end you know your kids best. 

No one here can properly advise on this simply because we are different and our kids are different.

In my case I would have a honest conversation with mine.  "The cruise line doesn't allow athletic shorts in the dining room.  How do you want to handle that?"

That approach may not work in your family but I'd be surprised if this was the first time in their lives you have had to negotiate around something.  Follow your gut, you know your kids better than anyone here does.

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Wow!  I really appreciate everyone's advice (and support) so far 🙂 Keep it coming!!

We've been on several cruises, however, this is the first one when the kids are going to want more freedom so I'm just a bit nervous about that. They are old enough to be safe but they haven't had "freedom" at home long enough to be seasoned at keeping track of time while in the midst of an intense battle on the court or the like 😉

Also, I've been a middle school teacher for over 20 years so I have a pretty good sense for all the many ways everyone chooses to rear kids. Positives and negatives to them all! 

monctonguy - I get what you're saying and it would be brilliant if it was that simple these days! But I want to have a happy trip, not one filled with my kids being pissed off and resenting me. Fancy clothes aren't a battle I'm willing to fight right now. I'll save that for late nights, being kind, drugs, drinking, school work etc...

My daughter is really the tough one. My son plays golf so he has plenty of polos and pants/shorts to wear. My daughter, on the other hand, is a pure athlete. She wears athletic gear as much as possible. Her idea of dressing up is a pair of jean shorts and a t-shirt without a logo 🙂 Even tried an athletic skirt or t-shirt dress. We try on dresses and skirts and she thinks they don't "suit her" or fit her personality. When your kid tells you that, it's kinda hard to say tough sh*t - Do it anyway! lol.

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4 minutes ago, maeffron said:

My daughter is really the tough one. My son plays golf so he has plenty of polos and pants/shorts to wear. My daughter, on the other hand, is a pure athlete. She wears athletic gear as much as possible. Her idea of dressing up is a pair of jean shorts and a t-shirt without a logo 🙂 We try on dresses and skirts and she thinks they don't "suit her" or fit her personality. When your kid tells you that, it's kinda hard to say tough shit - Do it anyway! lol.

If your daughter is athletic, she must be used to dressing nice for certain events. I have boys, so not sure about the girls, but boys here have to wear ties to school on game days, dress for athletic dinners and such.  She doesn't wear jean shorts in those situations, does she?  Also, dress nice for dinner doesn't have to mean dresses.  She too can wear khakis and a polo shirt just like your son.  Maybe that will make her feel better.

These clothes are only worn for a couple hours to eat, then can be removed in favor of what makes her feel more comfortable.  Another option - send them to the WJ for dinner, and you and your spouse enjoy a nicely quiet leisurely meal together.  I bet you don't get a lot of those these days! 

My kids are now 20 & 22, but we've been cruising with them since they were 2 & 4, pre cell-phone days.  We've always used white boards to communicate, once they got old enough to sign themselves in and out of the kids programs.  

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4 minutes ago, maeffron said:

My daughter, on the other hand, is a pure athlete. She wears athletic gear as much as possible. Her idea of dressing up is a pair of jean shorts and a t-shirt without a logo 🙂 We try on dresses and skirts and she thinks they don't "suit her" or fit her personality. When your kid tells you that, it's kinda hard to say tough shit - Do it anyway! lol.

This is my niece, except we can get dresses here and there only if she picks them and they're not too frilly or purple. lol. In the winter it's athletic shorts and a sweatshirt, she tries to get away with it at school too. Not a parent so ignore me if you will but what if your daughter wore the same kind of clothes as your son? What about a pair of khaki shorts? My point is if she's on the same level, clotheswise, who cares.

At the end of the day, who cares. I'm actually one of those people who wouldn't think of not dressing up BUT NO ONE CARES. So what if you get a little side eye? So what? If it's going to cause issues for you and your family to get your kids to dress up on vacation, forget it

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1 hour ago, maeffron said:

Wow!  I really appreciate everyone's advice (and support) so far 🙂 Keep it coming!!

We've been on several cruises, however, this is the first one when the kids are going to want more freedom so I'm just a bit nervous about that. They are old enough to be safe but they haven't had "freedom" at home long enough to be seasoned at keeping track of time while in the midst of an intense battle on the court or the like 😉

Also, I've been a middle school teacher for over 20 years so I have a pretty good sense for all the many ways everyone chooses to rear kids. Positives and negatives to them all! 

monctonguy - I get what you're saying and it would be brilliant if it was that simple these days! But I want to have a happy trip, not one filled with my kids being pissed off and resenting me. Fancy clothes aren't a battle I'm willing to fight right now. I'll save that for late nights, being kind, drugs, drinking, school work etc...

My daughter is really the tough one. My son plays golf so he has plenty of polos and pants/shorts to wear. My daughter, on the other hand, is a pure athlete. She wears athletic gear as much as possible. Her idea of dressing up is a pair of jean shorts and a t-shirt without a logo 🙂 Even tried an athletic skirt or t-shirt dress. We try on dresses and skirts and she thinks they don't "suit her" or fit her personality. When your kid tells you that, it's kinda hard to say tough sh*t - Do it anyway! lol.

Let me share with you the one situation I didn't anticipate with my son -- a sleepover.  He bonded with some other teens, waited until the last minute, then said he was invited to spend the night with a family that had two teenage sons.  I said "no" and stuck to it, although it made night 6 uncomfortable for our family.  I pointed out we didn't know the parents or the kids, and if he had alerted us earlier, we could have addressed our concerns.  Now in hindsight, I would have pointed out my concerns but relented, because he was 16 and always used good judgment.  But I was surprised by the request -- it hadn't occurred to me at all, so I gave my standard reply so that he would be more prepared "the next time".  

I just wanted you to have a "heads-up" that a situation like this could occur with one or both of your teens if they really bond with others on the ship.  I don't know what the "right" answer is, because it depends on so many factors. 

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2 hours ago, ChessE4 said:

Let me share with you the one situation I didn't anticipate with my son -- a sleepover.  He bonded with some other teens, waited until the last minute, then said he was invited to spend the night with a family that had two teenage sons.  I said "no" and stuck to it, although it made night 6 uncomfortable for our family.  I pointed out we didn't know the parents or the kids, and if he had alerted us earlier, we could have addressed our concerns.  Now in hindsight, I would have pointed out my concerns but relented, because he was 16 and always used good judgment.  But I was surprised by the request -- it hadn't occurred to me at all, so I gave my standard reply so that he would be more prepared "the next time".  

I just wanted you to have a "heads-up" that a situation like this could occur with one or both of your teens if they really bond with others on the ship.  I don't know what the "right" answer is, because it depends on so many factors. 

Yeah that would've been a big NO from me as well.  If the other family had a suite and a bunch of kids were staying I MAY have considered it only AFTER meeting the other parents.  But very few cabins have room for more to sleep, and if there was already the two teens and the parents in the cabin...yeah, not happening here.  Those parents would not want to be kept up all night - it's not like they're going into a basement to play video games.  No need to sleep in the same space.  My boys too have really good judgement too but it's pretty much a hard NO on this whole situation.  

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I remember being a young woman like your daughter.  What worked for me to dress up?  Pants.  Lots and lots of pants.  I wear pantsuits and female tuxedoes for formal events, so why cant she?   Look at female sports figures today.  Serena Williams, the women of the womens soccer team like Megan Rapinoe, the women of the WNBA. these women can rock a tank dress or a pantsuit like no tomorrow.  Too young to pantsuit, ok how about yoga pants and a dressed up tee?  Something with a few sequins on it enough to draw the eye from the yoga pants.  Pair that with a pair of vans slipons and you have a sporty formal night appropriate outfit that I'd dare any sweats for everything teen to turn their nose up at.  

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On 7/20/2019 at 9:08 AM, ChessE4 said:

Let me share with you the one situation I didn't anticipate with my son -- a sleepover.  He bonded with some other teens, waited until the last minute, then said he was invited to spend the night with a family that had two teenage sons.  I said "no" and stuck to it, although it made night 6 uncomfortable for our family.  I pointed out we didn't know the parents or the kids, and if he had alerted us earlier, we could have addressed our concerns.  Now in hindsight, I would have pointed out my concerns but relented, because he was 16 and always used good judgment.  But I was surprised by the request -- it hadn't occurred to me at all, so I gave my standard reply so that he would be more prepared "the next time".  

I just wanted you to have a "heads-up" that a situation like this could occur with one or both of your teens if they really bond with others on the ship.  I don't know what the "right" answer is, because it depends on so many factors. 

Thanks for the heads up! I hope they make some friends but I never would have considered that happening as well 🙂 I think you made the right call! You never know these days.

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On 7/21/2019 at 12:08 PM, maeffron said:

ThyriC - I think we may go that route! Black leggings with a nice top sounds like the easiest and most comfortable for her. We'll see how sparkly she will allow  if only Nike or under Armour made affordable formal wear lol!

This might be a bit too late for ordering and I don't know if she has any interest in these, but if the issue is comfort I am obsessed and SWEAR by these dress yoga pants. They are incredibly comfortable, look nice and dressy, and a decent number of them come with pockets too. They may be something your daughter is willing to wear going forward for dressier things. They are seriously the only thing I wear to work since discovering them.  https://www.betabrand.com/womens/pants/dress-pant-yoga-pants-collection

 

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