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40 years, one outfit
July 2, 2013 1:35 PM   Subscribe

PE teacher Dale Irby wore a polyester shirt and coffee-colored sweater for school picture day in 1973. And for every picture day since then until his retirement this year.
posted by rewil (57 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
He helped augment teacher salaries by driving a school bus every morning for the last 36 years.

!!!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:38 PM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


He also keeps his glasses for a really long time.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:40 PM on July 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Are those exclamation marks because driving a school bus is below a teacher or because school bus drivers are not paid a living wage?

I can't speak for roomthreeseventeen, but my own response when I read it was "holy shit, he and his wife have dedicated their lives to teaching kids and that's STILL not enough to make ends meet, and yet all we fucking hear about are how teachers and teachers unions are bleeding the taxpayers dry, GRAR."
posted by scody at 1:42 PM on July 2, 2013 [81 favorites]


I wanted to mock his inability to pick a decent looking pair of eyeglasses until I came to the last picture and saw that now his glasses look just like mine.
posted by mullacc at 1:43 PM on July 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


It's great that it started off as an accident, but that had the unfortunate result of making the outfit less interesting than it might have been if it had been deliberately chosen.
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:44 PM on July 2, 2013


I'm impressed that the dude still fits into is stuff from 40 years ago.
posted by Mister_A at 1:44 PM on July 2, 2013 [18 favorites]


He's a PE teacher; he's all about staying fit.
posted by dywypi at 1:45 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I swear I had his Danish spiritual brother as my maths teacher. Mr B wore the same green jumper and brown cords every single day (or only had a wardrobe consisting of green jumpers + brown cords) for 5 years.
posted by kariebookish at 1:45 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Union thug brownshirt.
posted by zzazazz at 1:46 PM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Are those exclamation marks because driving a school bus is below a teacher or because school bus drivers are not paid a living wage?

The latter, and also, I cannot fathom both driving the children to school, teaching them and then driving them home every day for 36 years. Good man.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:48 PM on July 2, 2013 [29 favorites]


This dude is awesome. I have it on mod authority* that any comment deviating from that sentiment will be swiftly deleted.

the mod authority in my head that speaks to me assertively.
posted by Think_Long at 1:48 PM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


My hat is off to Mr. Irby for striking a blow for sweater vests everywhere. I am going to wear mine proudly today.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:51 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a great piece of local reporting. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:52 PM on July 2, 2013




My mom is a teacher and just finished up her 20th year at the same school. It's a PK-12 school, the kind where kids tend to be lifers, so it was really important to her that she never accidentally doubled up on photo clothes.

I remember year after year helping her frantically scramble through past yearbooks on photo day morning to make sure she wasn't doubling up accidentally.

(She still somehow managed to have one outfit slip through THREE TIMES. She just looks really good in coral, ok?)
posted by phunniemee at 1:55 PM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


!!!

Fairly common in rural districts. Anyway, I bet this wasn't so much to "make ends meet" as it was making extra contributions to the pension system or alternative retirement fund like a 403(b) or 457 plan. The longer you do it, the more you have to retire on.
posted by dhartung at 2:01 PM on July 2, 2013


Hah this is great! Proud to share the same last name with this guy :D
posted by meta87 at 2:03 PM on July 2, 2013


I'm impressed that the dude still fits into is stuff from 40 years ago.
—He's a PE teacher; he's all about staying fit.


Judging from my experience of PE teachers, this guy is the exception, not the norm.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:06 PM on July 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Heh, awesome. I always forget how huge eyeglasses frames got there for a while, or I do until I visit my unchanging dad and he's all like Ō-Ō.
posted by jamaro at 2:07 PM on July 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


I really wished his mustache would have grown from year to year, expanding first to handlebars, then a goatee, then a full-fledged beard, only to disappear all-together one year.

Because that would make an awesome flipbook.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:09 PM on July 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


That was a torturous wait to see if he could find a pair of flattering eyeglasses.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:11 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


His eyeglasses do not look very different from a lot of the large ones I been seeing around town, these days. Irby, you're a fashion icon, and we salute you!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:19 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Makes for an interesting study of school photo techniques. In the 70s, lots of fake backdrops of bookshelves or trees. Then in the 80s, a shift to solid, warm neutrals. As the 80s progress, the neutrals turn to blueish gray, which then becomes mottled or streaked. This remains the standard backdrop for the rest of the series.

The lights in the 70s are casting relatively sharp shadows, meaning they're pretty small. This softens up in the late 80s-mid 90s as the photographers start using more or larger umbrellas on their lights. The huge glasses of the mid 80s through early 90s prove impossible for any photographer to avoid getting reflections in. (Pro tip - put the light on one side, and have them turn their head slightly to the other.)

Also notice the color shifts. The early ones are all shot on film and have a warm, though not really accurate, tone. The fading of the prints also adds to this. In the 90s either the style changes or the photographers get better at matching their lights to their film, and the colors get more true to life. We go through an awkward phase in the last dozen or so where the color balance is all over the place, likely as photographers learn through trial and error to set their own custom white balance on digital cameras. By the last few years they've got it pretty well nailed down.

It's funny to think that the way 'proper' photos looks now will likely look very dated in fifteen or twenty years, but we don't yet know how. Too contrasty? Too saturated? Not contrasty and saturated enough? We'll never know till we get there and feel embarrassed looking back.
posted by echo target at 2:20 PM on July 2, 2013 [66 favorites]


I really wished his mustache would have grown from year to year, expanding first to handlebars, then a goatee, then a full-fledged beard, only to disappear all-together one year.

Or alternatively: the hair on his head gradually migrates down to his face, so that in the last photo, he's a bald guy with a full, bushy beard.

And then you flip the picture upside down, and it's a beardless guy with a full head of bushy hair!
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:22 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


And then you flip the picture upside down, and it's a beardless guy with a full head of bushy hair!

And a mouth on his forehead! SO MANY TEETH
posted by echo target at 2:24 PM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


And let me just say he aged a whole lot better than his clothes did.

I'm pretty much the opposite of a fashion expert, but in my opinion, both Irby and outfit look pretty good on the left here. If that's the case, rather than age being less kind to the outfit than it was to Irby, it may well be that youth can make many things look good.

Maybe the right backdrop and accessories, too.
posted by weston at 2:33 PM on July 2, 2013


This is just so freaking wonderful!

Anyone else notice that the sweater develops a small hole somewhere in the late 80s? The fact that he kept wearing it, and didn't mend it, makes me love this all the more.

And yes, the wading through eyeglasses was torturous (and yet also fabulous).
posted by flyingsquirrel at 2:38 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


About the time he decided to keep wearing it as a joke, you can see it in his eyes and the result are great photographs.
posted by Atreides at 2:43 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


am i the only person that can't find the pictures that accompany this story? is it a link? is it off to the side by the ads? to me i just see text. i've scrolled up and down and i don't see anything referencing the pictures anywhere! help?
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 2:54 PM on July 2, 2013


Weird, the gallery link disappeared. Here it is.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:56 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


thank you! i thought i was losing my mind.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 2:57 PM on July 2, 2013


I went back to the page to point out where to go, but lo and behold, the inset image and gallery link are gone. You aren't going crazy (or at least, if you are, this isn't a sign).

Weird. It's back. There's an inset "Related" box, which has the link "Photos: 40 years of Dale Irby"
posted by filthy light thief at 3:04 PM on July 2, 2013


The huge glasses of the mid 80s through early 90s prove impossible for any photographer to avoid getting reflections in. (Pro tip - put the light on one side, and have them turn their head slightly to the other.)

The last time I had a portrait taken by a professional, the photographer had me tilt my eyeglasses forward by twenty degrees so that the stems were resting almost two inches above my ears. I thought for sure it would look goofy, but you really can't tell the difference and my lenses have no lens reflection in them.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:05 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: "I went back to the page to point out where to go, but lo and behold, the inset image and gallery link are gone. You aren't going crazy (or at least, if you are, this isn't a sign)."

Mkay then. I was going to be all like "What the hell pictures are you guys talking about?" and then I was like "Well, maybe I missed something and it would be embarassing to say anything." then I read all the thread and I was like "Aaaaaaaahhhhhh...."
posted by Samizdata at 3:09 PM on July 2, 2013


Fun.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:13 PM on July 2, 2013


The liner notes for Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense tells us that people will remember you better if you always wear the same clothes. QED.

Incidentally, a coworker of mine from 2000-2002 wore, so far as I can remember, a grey golf shirt and blue jeans every day. I am sure he must have worn something else at some point, but damned if I can recall anything else but that getup. The three or four times I have crossed paths with him since then he has inevitably been attired in what I still think of as A Paul Suit.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:24 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Made the mistake of clicking on theSkipit advert skipping thing which is a (paid for?) that lets you skip the ads . Except having decided not to skip the ads I can't cancel the dialogue and get the video to start it's a full refresh or nothing. Consequently nothing. How did the polyester shirt turn out? Still winsome dark tan colour, I trust?

Can I skip the adskippers? (and so, ad infinitum... tertiary economy woo!)
posted by aesop at 3:32 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Prestonwood Elementary is one school over from where I went to grade school. This guy is par for the norm for the area, for certain.
posted by item at 3:35 PM on July 2, 2013



>I'm impressed that the dude still fits into is stuff from 40 years ago.
>>He's a PE teacher; he's all about staying fit.
>>>Judging from my experience of PE teachers, this guy is the exception, not the norm.


Yeah, in 13 years of school I never had a PE class that provided the average student with anything close to a good workout, let alone the teachers. If you weren't already a jock it was a complete waste of three periods a week.

This guy, however - this guy is awesome.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:36 PM on July 2, 2013


dhartung: Fairly common in rural districts.

Richardson is anything but rural. It's a suburb boarding Dallas with over 100k people.
posted by item at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't envy Jeff Goldblum's character's fate in the remake of "The Fly" but do envy his technique of having a number of identical outfits to cycle through before his transformation.
posted by Morrigan at 3:54 PM on July 2, 2013


That is great, thank you for posting it. It is poignant to see him aging, and think about all the teachers I had that I never really saw as independent people in their own right.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:03 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I swear I had his Danish spiritual brother as my maths teacher. Mr B wore the same green jumper and brown cords every single day (or only had a wardrobe consisting of green jumpers + brown cords) for 5 years.

Our elementary school gym teacher had her own uniform. Blue or green culottes and a white, long-sleeved button-down shirt. White keds. During the holidays she added some sort of festive pin. Exciting days!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:56 PM on July 2, 2013


Maybe now that Coach Irby is done with it Rick Santorum would be interested in purchasing that sweater vest.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:07 PM on July 2, 2013


That is adorable; what a great long con...he has a much better sense of humor than any of the many gym teachers in my life.

Now I feel like I have to think of something even better for my own dumb school pictures; I have missed out on ten years of magic teaching at my current school but THE FUTURE IS NOW!
posted by charmedimsure at 6:25 PM on July 2, 2013


We had a science teacher in my high school who also always did the same thing for her photo in the yearbook every year. Except - instead of always wearing the same outfit, she would pose with a spoon stuck to the middle of her forehead.

I never had her as my science teacher and I always wished I did because awesome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I thought my middle school English teacher wearing the same hand bag for the last 25 years was special!!
posted by Jean Philippe Bernadotte at 6:40 PM on July 2, 2013


Someone gif this plz
posted by klangklangston at 7:24 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Made me smile. There are teachers that just rock.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:30 PM on July 2, 2013


I'm glad to see that Steve Blow is out there trying to make a name for himself, unlike his older brother, Joe.
posted by orme at 7:40 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dale Irby, I salute you. (And you’re a hipster fashion leader.)
posted by bongo_x at 7:45 PM on July 2, 2013


This is beautiful.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:49 PM on July 2, 2013


I'm surprised how much you can tell about the decade by the changing glasses alone.
posted by sp160n at 9:00 PM on July 2, 2013


Tumblr provides a gif.
posted by rewil at 9:04 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, so tumblr beat me to it, but since I went to the effort - [this is for you klangklangston] Irby.
posted by unliteral at 9:18 PM on July 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's good, though, 'cause the Tumblr one focuses on the glasses so much that the outfit's kind of lost, and yours fixes that.
posted by rewil at 9:24 PM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also re: his glasses. I see that he had two bad glasses years - 1995 and 2006. I don't know what happened, maybe they just didn't suit or he sat on them and couldn't find the same frames or what, but those two models only lasted the year. Other periods for posterity: •?1974-1977 •1978-1985 •1986-1994 •1996-2005 •2007-2011 •2012-?
posted by unliteral at 9:27 PM on July 2, 2013


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