Summer fashion is less about the clothes than the body inside them. While the trusty opaque tights and chunky knits of winter can be relied upon to conceal more than they reveal, the opposite is true of this season's diaphanous fabrics and thigh-skimming mini-dresses.
Now, as holiday season rolls around again, many of us will be disappointed to find ourselves in the same predicament as this time last year, barely able to whisper the word "bikini", let alone wear one.
For all our promises last September that we really, really would continue to epilate, exfoliate and exercise throughout the dark, cold months of winter to emerge from our winter cocoons beach-ready, the reality panned out rather differently.
But before you descend into abject despair, take heart. There is still time to remedy the situation thanks to the latest crop of quick fixes, which have been put through their paces by the Independent's style gurus. The result is a 10-point top-to-toe plan that should be enough to blag your way to face- and body-beautiful.
If you want to hone your body and holiday at the same time, consider a Wildfitness exercise trip to Kenya or Greece. The idea is to reintroduce city-dwellers to the more natural way of living we knew as hunter-gatherers. The company has also introduced Wildfitness City, a programme of personal and group training sessions in London parks, to help you find your inner animal at home. www.wildfitness.com
Perfume will make a difference to how you feel, especially if it is one of the new Energy C series from Japanese brand Comme des Garçons. As unusual as you would expect from the avant-garde label, the three compositions – lemon, lime and orange – are described as a "perfume vitamin rush based on citrus fruit". £22, tel: 020 7518 0680
Smooth skin is half the battle in getting your body to beach-baring spec – especially on your thighs, or anywhere that needs toning. If you haven't stuck to your pre-holiday gym routine, the Sanderson Hotel's Agua Spa has created a "facial for the body" with its luxurious Enrich Body Treatment to nourish, exfoliate and help disguise the dimples. £110 for 90-minute treatment including massage, tel: 020 7300 1414
Inner beauty is fast acquiring new meaning, with lots of brands bringing out food supplements to complement their ranges. Nude's Hydrate capsules contain a blend of omega fatty acids, borage, flax and olive oils to moisturise and replenish. Our tester was convinced that two capsules a day gave her clearer, softer skin after four weeks. £40 for 90 capsules, available from Space NK, www.spacenk.co.uk
If a holiday is beyond your credit-crunched means, take a mini-break to clear your head at Aveda's Lifestyle salon. Now offering manicures, pedicures, eyebrow-threading and facials from a private room, as well as the usual plant-based hair treatments, the salon has been redesigned using recycled and sustainable materials such as bamboo and cork. You won't have to feel guilty about your carbon footprint either. Aveda Lifestyle salon, 28-29 Marylebone High Street, London W1, www.aveda.co.uk
Infinitely more dignified than standing in a spray booth like a second-hand car, Clarins has developed a treatment that combines massage with application of its new Delicious self-tanning cream. The sugar formula ensures a natural brown colour. From £41, www.clarins.co.uk
The Urban Retreat spa has just launched a range of signature treatments in time for summer, including the Afrodisiac hair treatment for textured hair, which involves a deep conditioner originally created for Sade, a head massage and steam (£25 for 30 minutes). Available at Urban Retreats in Harrods, Harvey Nichols Manchester, and – for the truly time-pressed traveller – Heathrow Terminal 1. www.urbanretreat.co.uk
For flip flop-friendly feet, microdermabrasion is the speediest way to go from scaly to smooth. Crystal Clear's treatment will soften up even the most hideous of heels in one 40-minute session. From £45, www.crystalclear.co.uk
These perennial problem areas require special measures to beat dryness. Cult Spanish brand Natura Bissé's Rosa Mosqueta Oil is ultra-moisturising and will even help to heal sunburn and insect bites. A brilliant multi-tasker to pack in your suitcase. £37, now available nationwide from Space NK, www.spacenk.co.uk
How does Bobbi Brown do it? The mistress of make-up manages to produce a covetable new collection every season without straying from her "less is more" beauty aesthetic. This summer's Bronzed Pink range is designed to "capture the pretty glow skin gets on holiday", so you can get the St Barts look even if you're in St Albans. Available from July, from £12, www.bobbibrown.co.uk