Still struggling with this, and I think the factor of 'colour' might be throwing me off. I have a very modest assortment of clothes - 54 items - bikini to ball skirt including outerwear but not basics or sports kit. Add to that 12 pair footwear and a dozen bags (backpack to evening bag). I have multiples (Converse sneakers, pointy toe flats, 3/4 length T-shirts, lace tank tops) vs one-of's (tall boot, sandal, leather jacket, gauzy boho shirt).
But what if the item is red or silver? Does it become a statement vs an essential? 3 pair Converse - silver, red, white. 2 puffers - black, red, 2 trench coats - black, red. Amongst the T-shirts: grey, silver foil, 3 mariner stripe, and the slouchey sweaters: grey, white with black flecks, wine (all boat neck and just below the elbow). My favourite bottoms - identical Calvin Klein high waist ankle jeans - 1 white, 1 medium faded blue Jean, 1 wine. Other mid or high waist ankle pants in white, blue Jean and black. But only 1 pair long/flared jeans. So, I go for CK's the most - but they are different colours.
Now I have 7 coats of which 4 are black, 2 are red, and one is cognac. Would black outerwear be an essential? Even if all different styles and fabrics? If I look at navy blue/white stripes I have 6 tops, but 3 are horizontal mariner style t's and 3 are vertical stripe button downs!
Is the style of garment or item the key to it being an essential, or the colour? Or both? Can red items be essentials or are they always statement?