Thinking about essentials, I thought back to a few years ago when I needed to replace my entire wardrobe and have something to wear immediately that fit. My idea of essentials are pieces in a neutral that form a column of color as a base to add prints, other colors, and statements easily. My neutral was black as the most easily found and used and working for most any occasion. Now I also use whites and greys and taupe as my basic neutrals, with the taupe/natural linen as more of a warm weather neutral. Ink would be preferable to black but is harder to find and blend. Semi- neutrals are blush and chocolate.
My essential tops are the neutrals in tanks ( worn year round), long sleeved knits with turtle, crew, or slash neck, and a couple of cashmere or merino wool pullovers in light and dark grey. In the past, short sleeved tops are either too warm or too cold. My new climate may change that.
No longer essential are button-down shirts. Like Angie, I now prefer soft blouses.
Essential toppers are a long and a short puffer in grey, a black trench, a light grey/white water resistant utility coat, and a couple of light weight soft jackets or cardigans for summer air conditioning. I no longer consider blazers or wool coats as essentials and have not replaced old ones.
Essential bottoms for cold weather: heavy denim jeans in skinny to straight in shades of blue denim, a white/ cream, greys; black ponte pants; a pair of wool trousers in a neutral; black pencil or tube skirt.
For warm weather bottoms, light weight denim crops in shades of blue denim, white, black, taupe, grey; a black tube skirt, dark and white denim pencil skirts.
Footwear: silver/pewter and black flat ankle boots for winter; silver/pewter sneakers and flats (heels 1.5" or less).
Bags: pewter/silver metallic clutch, tote
Other: metallic belt for jeans, white pearls, wool scarves in cream and blush, gold rings, gold small necklaces, watch, lightweight gloves, regular and sun glasses, sun screen, coral lip stick

2017 Musings: I will probably need a sun hat this summer. Cotton tanks need to be replaced. My preferences for dresses are moving from sheath dresses to shift styles. I want to add a white pearl bracelet. Jean styles need to be updated to high or mid rise and experimentation with narrow denim culottes and cropped flares. I would like to add new better fitting linen trousers in taupe. I may need more soft blouses with short sleeves if the climate calls for it.