There comes a time in every fashionista’s life when even the trendiest of styles remains elusive. A time when you so love the way a particular look transforms an ensemble in the magazines, but the same look falls miles short when you try it on for yourself. My particular fashion bugaboo is attempting to coordinate opposing, seemingly clashing patterns into one coherent package. “Wear nautical stripes with floral patterns,” the fashion magazines scream. Trouble is, when I combine them, I simply look as though I pulled clothing out of my closet blindfolded and in the dark. So today, when I was out to lunch in the Union Square area of San Francisco, I was transfixed by the way this snazzy lady paired her patterns. The jacket is clearly plaid, whilst the blouse is a bold polka dot. But I’ve determined that what makes this work look is the careful color scheme. The standout is of course the mustard colored skirt. Then, she cleverly saw that the jacket contained a thin golden line to complement the base color. Black is also a major player, in the boots, tights, scarf and handbag, but also in the blouse. What seems to make this outfit so meticulously nonchalant is the coordination of the jacket to the skirt and the blouse to the accessories. Because the colors tie seamlessly into each other, the pattern mixing isn’t as shocking as simply a mish mash of stripes and polka dots colliding in a messy rainbow. What did I learn from this girl? The key to mixing and matching patterns is to plan coordinating (but not matching) colors. So even if it takes you hours to choose the right combination of colors and patterns, your matching avarice will fool everyone, and you’ll pull off pattern mixing with tasteful chicanery.