Would you splash out pounds 128 to wear a Sam de Tern on the beach this summer?
The only way to cheer yourself up this dreary summer is to defy it. Hence, this sequinned bikini is a must-have, even if it means sitting in it at home with a frozen margarita in one hand and hot-water bottle in the other.

Sportswear designer Sam de Tern has a client list that reads like Hello!. Elle Macpherson, Lauren Hutton and Tara P-T are all fans, and this season de Tern has taken the classic drawstring bikini and turned it into sheer glamour.

The dark-blue, snakeskin-print, Lycra/polyamide Brief Encounters bikini is smothered in sequins and lined in black Lycra. The top and bottoms are sold separately, which is good news for pear-shaped women. But it costs pounds 128 (pounds 64 a piece) for basically half a metre of fabric and a couple of drawstrings.

Is this a rip-off or a fair price? "The fabric was specially developed in Switzerland," says de Tern. "You could swim in this bikini for ten years and it would be fine. The sequins are sewn on incredibly tightly, so you won't scrape them off on the side of the pool, and my machinists have taken the sequins off the edges by hand so there are no rough edges, which is very labour intensive, which all costs money."

The label in the bikini says wash immediately after use - hardly practical on a beach. "You should run any Lycra beachwear under a cold tap after use, especially at the pool, because chlorine attacks Lycra," explains de Tern.

On the high street, glamour never got this good. Miss Selfridge had a sequinned bikini for pounds 22.50, but there are none left. Oasis has some Seventies-inspired, Day-Glo, Lurex bikinis at pounds 24.99, and Knickerbox sells a turquoise, spangled bikini for pounds 27.50.

Wendy Olver is a costume designer who has sewn on more sequins than we've had cold summers, and, as a New Zealander, knows a lot about swimming costumes. "The shape and support of the Knickerbox bikini is excellent," she explains. "It doesn't gape, it's got a high leg and you'd have no problems with these sequins. The Sam de Tern bikini is gorgeous. The bra is very sexy but the bottoms are too wide at the crotch, so it looks a bit baggy. You'd need a perfect figure to wear it. The Knickerbox one is more forgiving."

But, is the de Tern bikini worth the money? "For glamour, yes, but I'd buy just the bra, to wear with shorts on the beach or with a mini-skirt for clubbing."

If you're an exhibitionist, a hedonist or a supermodel you'll never regret shelling out pounds 128 for this most glamorous of bikinis. If you're not, stick to Knickerbox's cheaper, more flattering but much more mundane alternative.