Thanks, Angie for the discussion of those essentials.

Though light neutrals are only JFE on me, they do have some of that "essential" quality in being so versatile with other colors--pop on and go. Angie's white pullovers brought that to mind.

I came across this EF knit top in a heavy silk blend knit--very good fabric--in "bone" which comes across very similar to pearl gray or oyster white and all those slightly greyed whites, and at a (small) sale price.

It goes with just about all my pants and changes dark pants to a more summery vibe--necklace or scarf can be added.

The one dilemma I had is that in my best EF size, its proportions are best for pants and is a bit long for pencil skirts; I tried petite sizing also and it did not get me to the right place, as the roomy-enough size wasn't really shorter.
However, I have the BR boxy top in a similar color, and it is for skirts more than for pants, so I think I will go with the EF version for pants since realistically, in air-conditioning I spend more time in pants even in the summer, and also footwear for pants usually is less problematic as well.