I am unsure these days what my essentials are. I think they used to include things like the following:
Black or grey cardigan (not long, waist length and fitted)
Sailor striped tops
However, my style has veered off from that more classic direction a bit, though I retain examples of all of the above items. This is what I have now, and I think the colors haven't changed (black, blue, grey). I *think* these are essentials:
Black tall riding boots
Solid tees in the above colors, fitted but of different sleeve lengths for different seasons (I am trying to add a black or maybe navy turtleneck to the mix, to replace one that died)
Black v-neck sweater (may also want to add a navy crewneck)
Black jeans (skinny, but hope to add bootcut)
Dark blue wash jeans (bootcut and skinny)
Black ponte leggings
Black and navy ankle length pants (the material depends on the season)
Metallic footwear in the summer
I am also trying to focus on adding essentials/completer to my closet, recently, so most of my recent purchases are black and navy. These are the colors I gravitate towards so that my statements (usually bright or patterned tops, but can also be bottoms) can stand out. I continue to want to buy and gravitate towards bright or patterned tops but have more than enough. I've started wardrobe tracking, and really am not repeating any tops at all. Since I have space challenges, I should cull if I can, but I love my tops so much (ditto my purses). I do feel that I have bought a lot of long flowing tops and now feel like pulling back on that; I've posted about that on here before though (when I asked for help culling blouses).
I included some recent purchases below. Not everything below is an essential. The black dress is something I realized I may need when I thought I'd have to go to a funeral and had very little that would be appropriate (the person did pass on, but it turns out there will be a memorial at a later date).
The blue trench is a completer I guess, and HEWI for me, as I've had trouble fitting in trenches due to the size of my hips. If I size up, the top will be too large, so I need to look for things that don't button below the waist or are skirted. I currently have a trench that fits my hips but that is too large up top, and I hate it. I haven't received the dress or the trench in the mail yet.
The black turtleneck came in, but it's too long unless I wear it scrunched up like the model does. The fit and quality are wonderful otherwise, so I'm debating about just shortening the body and the sleeves, as there's no petite size. It may make more sense to try to find something in a petite size, though, as that works best for tops if I want them to be fitted and to hit the waistbands of my pants.
The blue pants and cardiare already in my rotation. The cardi is one of the few I own that leaves enough room in the sleeves for me to layer something sleeved underneath it. As I mentioned above, I think I moved too far into non-fitted items last year, as I'm craving more fitted ones now. I don't want to add many more, but this is the kind of thing I won't stop wearing. I want to retain some of the boho quality I've added to my wardrobe.
I've also been making an effort to add pink and red to my wardrobe, after adding a burgundy successfully. I love these colors but had sized out of a lot of items in those colors, without replacing them. That's a separate topic, really, but something I want to take note of.