Pay pounds 340 for a Chanel bikini, and you'd better have the yacht to match
AT A whopping pounds 340 for both pieces, this beachwear from Chanel was surely never meant to be worn at the local leisure centre. The bikini can be bought as separates; for pounds 190 get you the underwired bra-style top and for a further pounds 150, the shorts are yours as well. Though made from a respectable cotton/lycra mix, it would be heartless to put the bikini under the microscope of anyone who was serious about swimwear technology. No, the question here is "is it worth the pose factor?"

Since Chanel introduced its beachwear in the early Nineties, we've become used to seeing the likes of Claudia Schiffer and all the old-school supermodels strutting in itsy Chanel bikinis emblazoned with the interlocking CC logo. This number is rather more subtle: the famous logo sits most humbly on the back fastener of the bra-top and is hidden amongst the relief flower pattern. Not such good news for the It girl who likes a logo to accompany her champagne and yacht in LA. If that were your lifestyle though, then you could probably afford to get your logo kicks from the Chanel beach towel (approx. pounds 195) or Chanel flip-flops (from pounds 185).

This bikini does not, at least, commit any cardinal beachwear sin. The dye is certainly splash proof - from tap water, at least (unfortunately we couldn't test it with real sea-water), and the thick black fabric means it's not pornographic when wet. Though the styling of the bikini is quite Forties, the lycra content means that it won't sag when wet, as they apparently did in the days of Picture Post. "They were made purely from knitted cotton, you see," explains my secret fabric expert. However soft the bikini might feel, it doesn't look particularly special. The bra straps aren't adjustable, so they would slip off if you weren't the exact size it was meant for (sizes range from 8-14). Plus, the shorts would play havoc with any dreams of an even tan, and unless your legs were superb they'd hardly be flattering.

So what is going to look good on the beach this year? I asked Luella Bartley, fashion writer at Vogue for her thoughts. "The classic Liza Bruce bandeau top is the coolest thing to wear on the beach, but only if you have a somewhat minimal chest. Most people look dreadful in a bikini, so wear it with as much ironic style as possible. Or, go for the Antonio Berardi bright pink towel made to be worn as a dress."