Dressing alike everyday habit for this couple

December 1, 2008 

They say all couples eventually start to look alike.

One look at Ray and Honey Smith and you'll know it's true.

The Ceres couple has been dressing alike -- from shoes to pants to shirts and hats -- for the past five years.

Both 65 and retired, the former high school sweethearts are practically the reasons the double take was invented.

"I don't even think about it anymore," said Honey. "I just went in one day and bought some shirts for him and some shirts for me."

The couple had often matched their clothing colors in the past. But after Ray retired in 2003, they decided to match everything.

"The reason is we wanted to let people know we're happy," said Ray. "Also, people remember us because we dress alike."

Certainly folks remember them, even if at first they are confounded by them.

Ray said once they went into the Kohl's store in Turlock separately, first Honey and then Ray. The saleslady kept giving Ray a funny look.

Then, when she finally saw them both together at the register, she looked relieved.

"She said, 'I knew that was a lady when I first saw her,' " Ray laughed.

Of course, it would be easy to get confused. The couple has more than 100 matching Hawaiian silk shirts, dozens and dozens of matching Croc clogs and assorted matching everything else from jeans to pajamas to watches and even fanny packs.

Each night, Honey picks out what they will wear the next day from their closet. The matching short-sleeve shirts are all hung carefully together with her size small in front of his size medium in back.

Because the size is the only difference in the clothes, Honey has a way to ensure Ray doesn't accidentally pick the wrong one while getting dressed.

"I put in an 'H' in my clothes so he can't wear them," she said.

"But sometimes I get to choose the color we wear," he replied.

"No, he doesn't."

Still, there are some limits to their identical images. Honey wears necklaces and bracelets, separate from Ray. Her unmentionables come from Victoria's Secret and his definitely do not.

And, well, then there's the hair.

"You know, I offered to shave it off, but he said, 'No, that's OK,' " Honey confessed about her bald husband.

It also means that other than sometimes her pants, Honey never buys women's clothes. Once, while on fancy dress night on a Carnival cruise, they both wore tuxedos.

Honey's 94-year-old mother, who lives in Fremont, calls the couple "her twins." And if the pair's three grown daughters and nine grandchildren think there's anything funny about their dressing habits, they've kept it close to the vest.

In fact, they said, their 20-year-old grandson sometimes tries to match his clothes colors with those of his girlfriend.

The Smiths first started their matching ways while high school sweethearts in Fremont. On senior sneak day, they both wore paisley shirts and white shorts.

"I wanted everyone to know we were together," Ray said.

Married for 46 years, the couple said the idea of dressing alike didn't come up again until after Ray retired from his job of more than 30 years as a general landscape contractor.

While matching has garnered the Smiths countless double takes, it's also made them almost as many friends.

The couple gets recognized all over town and beyond.

They're on a first-name basis with many of the sales people at Gottschalks, where they buy most of their clothes, as well as other stores in Vintage Faire Mall, where they go every Tuesday.

"We feel like a family, they are such loving people," said Sam Ganja, co-owner of Cal-Time in the mall. He has known Honey as a customer for 20 years, and has gotten to know Ray closely as well since his retirement.

"He is the type, he just loves his wife," Ganja said. "They are so close. That closeness that they have is unique. I have other customers who do a lot of things, but with those two it's beautiful."

While dressing alike is the couple's most noticeable similarity, they also share a love for all things Disney. Looking closely, it becomes clear that many of their clothing and accessories bear a familiar pair of mouse ears.

The Smiths also spend a week each month in Disneyland in their fifth-wheel trailer. And even on the happiest place on Earth, Ray and Honey turn heads.

"One time when when we were in Disneyland, a guy came up to me and said, "What's your secret?'" Ray said. "I said back, 'We're happy. And we just love people.' "

Bee entertainment writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at 578-2284 or mrowland@modbee.com.

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