Dale Irby, in his first yearbook photo (left) and his last
Courtesy The Dallas Morning News
07/02/2013 at 08:00 AM EDT
The years came and went, but Dale Irby's 1970s polyester shirt and coffee-colored sweater vest never got old.
Irby, 63, retired this year as an elementary school teacher in Texas, but not before making quite the career-long fashion statement: He wore the same cheesy outfit in his yearbook photo every year for 40 years.
It started off purely by accident.
"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 tells the Dallas Morning News
But Irby's wife thought it was funny, and urged him to keep going. Irby did it for five years, and then figured: "Why stop?"
Forty years later, here we are. The shirt still fits, says Irby, "if I suck it in a little."
The clothes have outlasted the store – and even the mall – where Irby bought them. Sanger-Harris was absorbed by another department store in the '80s, while the Big Town Mall in Mesquite, Texas, was demolished in 2006.
What will become of the clothes now? Irby figures they'll enjoy a retirement of their own – at the back of his closet.
"I don't think the Smithsonian would want them," he says.