Dale Irby, a Texan physical education teacher, retired in style this year – along with the disco-era outfit that he had worn in 40 school pictures.
The tradition began by accident when Irby, who was short on clothes at the beginning of his career, put on the only smart outfit he had: a polyester shirt and a mustard-coloured wool vest. The second year he repeated the ensemble on photo day by pure chance.
“I was so embarrassed when I got the school pictures back that second year and realised I had worn the very same thing as the first year,” Irby told Dallas News. However, his wife (also a teacher at the same primary school) dared him to do it a third time, which made Irby think it would be fun to try for five. After five, he never stopped.
In later years, Irby would bring the outfit to school and wear it only long enough for his picture to be taken. Not surprisingly, the shirt was a little snug after 40 years.
The shirt and vest will now be retired to the back of his closet, Irby said. “I don’t think the Smithsonian would want them,” he joked.
You can see a slideshow of Irby and his outfit over the last four decades here.
But these images aren’t the only legacy that Irby leaves. He was such a valued member of staff that the gym at his school boasts a sign over the door that reads ‘Irby Gymansium’. “He took his job so seriously in good sportsmanship – both in athletics and in life,” Pam Aitken, Prestonwood school principal told Dallas News. “He taught a lot of kids to be fair and respectful of others. That’s a great legacy to leave.”