Nicole Kidman arriving at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, California in a lovely Chanel coat dress - Feb 6, 2017 Nicole Kidman arriving at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, California in a lovely Chanel coat dress - Feb 6, 2017

Is it a coat? Is it a dress?

In the case of the coat dress, the answer is both. It’s the fashion equivalent of having your cake and eating it, too.

It can sometimes seem like celebs from Nicole Kidman to Julianne Moore are exorbitantly fond of these no-fuss items. But really, their practicality combined with their stylish appeal make them a wardrobe no-brainer.

Probably, most people automatically think of Kate Middleton when they hear the phrase “coat dress.” Flattering yet formal at the same time, it’s not surprising that the look is heavily favored by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Catherine Walker, Michael Kors, and Missoni are a few of her go-to coat dress designers, along with Alexander McQueen, of course.

There are plenty of others who like to take advantage of the many benefits offered by a coat dress. Recently, labels like Christian Dior and Chanel gave fashionistas plenty of options. Endlessly customizable, you have to ask yourself a few crucial styling questions. First comes length: long or short? As for material, plain or patterned? Double breasted or no? How about statement lapels or sleeves?

As a general rule, the longer the length, the more refined the result. Pleats and buttons can all lend contemporary flair while hinting at bygone eras when coat dresses were more prevalent — and in some cases, required. Obviously, modern times make this regal form of outerwear optional — but really, is there any reason you wouldn’t want one? — jas