The beach weather's here and the water is winking. But, alas, you're still wearing your winter suit: a set of oversized love handles and a few nasty dimples on your bottom.
While there still may be time to lose a kilo or two, it's too late to turn into Angelina Jolie before your annual beach holiday. It's time for crisis management:
Go the self-tan route
Yes, it's true, those flabby bits seem to be less obvious if you've got a bronze skin. But tanning – both in the sun and in a sunbed – is simply too risky.
The best alternative? Self-tan.
Gone are the days that a home self-tan job means streaky, carrot-coloured skin. Now there are excellent self-tan lotions on the market that will ensure a smooth, even tan.
Go on, invest in a good product this summer. Just make sure you exfoliate your skin beforehand and that your skin is clean and dry before you apply the lotion. And wash your hands during and after application, or else your beach look will be spoiled by dark, unsightly palms.
Choose the right bathing suit
Take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Decide which part of your body you need to cover up: your bottom and thighs, your stomach, or all three?
If it's your bottom and thighs, you might be able to get away with a bikini top and a sarong or "board short". If it's your stomach, you'll probably need to settle for a full bathing suit. If it's all three, a full bathing suit along with a sarong will do the trick.
Choose a bathing suit/bikini that gives you adequate breast support, especially if you have a fuller bosom. And don't go for a style in which you don't feel comfortable – G-strings might work for some people, but they certainly aren't everyone's cup of tea.
When you're trying on a new bathing suit, it's important to stretch and move around to ensure that the suit is a comfortable fit.
Invest in darker colours
If you're a little overweight, rather go for a muted, monochrome bathing suit instead of a bright, multi-coloured one. Darker colours, such as black and navy, are generally more flattering than lighter colours.
The dark-colour rule also applies for your clothing. Invest in a "little black dress" that suits your figure – this way, you'll definitely have something you can count on for the upcoming Christmas functions and summer cocktail parties. Aim for straight, simple lines.
And, while you're at it, invest in a pair of high heels to go with your black dress. It will add extra length, making your legs look slimmer.
Wear the right kind of stripes
Horizontal stripes have been fashionable for some time now. While a stripey top could be funky, it could add kilos to your summer look.
If you really want to go for the striped look, rather opt for vertical stripes. This will give an illusion of thinness. But make sure to keep the stripes subtle.
Polka dots are also fashionable at the moment. But be warned: these could also draw the attention to those chubby bits. Once again, it might be a better idea to go for monochrome outfits.
Emphasise your best assets
Don't underestimate the power of good grooming. A nice haircut, well looked-after hands and feet and smart make-up choices can go a long way to distract the attention from your saddlebags. Invest in a professional haircut and consider going for a consultation with a make-up artist – you won't regret it.
Take your time when you go clothes shopping. Try on a variety of different styles and see what works best with your specific body type. Avoid tops that creep up to display your midriff if you have a bit of a tummy. Rather go for slightly longer styles. Also avoid clothes that are too tight-fitting.
Choose accessories that will draw the attention to your best assets, e.g. a nice necklace or beautiful earrings if you have an attractive neckline, or a funky belt if you have a slim waistline.
(Carine van Rooyen, Health24, updated November 2012)