For Dale Irby, an innocent mistake has turned into a lasting legacy.
For 40 years in a row, the newly retired elementary gym teacher from Texas wore the same outfit in every school picture.
And the best part is, he didn't even mean to start the tradition.
“I was so embarrassed when I got the school pictures back that second year and realized I had worn the very same thing as the first year,” Irby, 63, told The Dallas Morning News.
But his wife, a fellow teacher, told Irby to wear it again for a third time. So he did. Then he thought five years in a row would be comical.
“After five pictures,” Irby said to the Dallas Morning News, “it was like: ‘Why stop?’ ”
So he never did.
The pointy-collared shirt and coffee-colored wool vest probably aren't endorsed by GQ, but it has made Irby an Internet sensation.
“I didn’t think it would go wild that quickly,” Irby told the Toronto Star. “That was stylish back then.”
But at Prestonwood Elementary in the Richardson School District, the moustached gym teacher isn't known only for his fashion sense.
“He took his job so seriously in teaching good sportsmanship — both in athletics and in life,” Prestonwood principal Pam Aitken told the Morning News. “He taught a lot of kids to be fair and respectful of others. That’s a great legacy to leave.”6 comments on this story
In fact, the gym at Prestonwood is now called Irby Gymnasium in honor of the 63-year-old.
By the end of the routine, Irby was only bringing the outfit to school to put on for the picture, then would take it off after the cameras flashed.
When congratulated by Steve Blow of the Dallas Morning News on being able to button up the same shirt after all these years, Irby confessed, “Uh, yeah, if I suck it in a little."
Michael Smith is an intern in the news section of DeseretNews.com. A 2013 graduate of the University of Utah, he will be attending Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism in the fall.