Oh, I just posted on Angie's blog similar to Gaylene's interpretation.
But in thinking about this some more, I think 'essentials' only make sense if you are a uniform dresser.

Case in point: This summer I purchased clothing that enabled me to wear several different silhouettes (midi skirt, tube skirt, skinny jeans, boot cuts, short shorts, and shift dress) . Each outfit was kind of independent - I didn't mix and match much, and I can't say there was a set of essentials that glued it all together. HOWEVER, the colour scheme sort of tied the wardrobe together, as did the general casualness of all the pieces.

This winter though, I have a uniform of skinny bottoms and t-shirts and sweaters so I would consider those essentials.

Hmm, I'm not sure "essentials" = a uniform unless a person wants it that way. I think of "essentials" as more the cornerstone versions of a clothing category that reflect our style preferences for a period of time or a season. To me "essentials" are the items in your closet which let you express YOUR vision of handling your statements.

For example, we all need footwear. Sometimes a shoe can be a statement, but more often we opt for a particular style or look that works for our overall style direction at a point in time. If we don't spend some time thinking it through, we end up with a pile of shoes in our closet but never the right one.

YES! I get this now! I was just trying to work out how this applied to my wardrobe, and I think I can finally see the pattern.

ALL my summer tops are statements. They fall into two categories, crops and trapeze shapes. The bottoms I choose to make those work are wide-leg pants or culottes for the crops and pencil skirts or skinny pants for the trapeze shapes. So those bottoms are my essentials.

In winter ALL my jackets are statements. And I wear fine knit, tight turtlenecks or long sleeved T-shirts underneath. And the same essentials on the bottom.

So my essentials list should read
-Wide-leg pants/culottes
-Pencil skirts
-Skinny pants
-Turtle-neck knits
-Long sleeve T-shirt knits

Does that sound right? That is actually quite a small list considering the diversity of silhouettes I like to wear! This has been very helpful.

I'm still on the realization that essentials have to speak your style as much as statements. A statement isn't exactly, then, a statement of your style. That is, it's not confined to just that. It's a statement period. This is how it's possible to have an all-statement or all-essential outfit... It sort of means you can have a distinct style without, well, making statements. Which is kinda true. I mean, there are always those moments when you think a person has a lot of style, but then a second later you're not sure. Because of that inclination to equate style with statement pieces.

Rachylou, great quirky-deep thought post!

I think essentials CAN have a twist- they don't have to be "plain". So you and Una both noted that certain details are desirable for your essentials. But presumably they aren't to an extent that they then require a careful support act- they function as the support.

Thanks Gaylene & Angie.

So if I bought lots of the "essential tops" that are often recommended such as tees or button downs they could be the cause a wardrobe meltdown, for me, because I'd not have the drape & asymmetry I need in my tops if I'm going to feel content with my plain jeans.

Love Gaylene's thought experiment and will try it today.