Indeed, the fit used to be a little too athletic – meaning women tended to go one size larger in this range than they would in Rapha’s other jerseys. Now the short sleeved Women’s Souplesse jersey has been updated for the 2014 summer to bring it in line with the rest of Rapha’s sizing.
The sleeves are now a fraction longer, but still tend to sit higher up the arm than some riders are used too. The length of the jersey sits a little lower too. It’s position is perfect in a riding position, eliminating extra bulk, material or scrunching. You’ll still want to pull it downward a little when strutting your stuff at the post-ride café.
As we’ve come to expect from Rapha, this garment features beautiful feeling materials paired with a flattering, well-researched approach to construction. In this case it uses a thick yet silky feeling SPF 50+ material for the main body of the jersey and a bright contrasting stripe down the spine. The structural properties of the fabric mean it doesn’t show every contour that lies underneath it.
Keeping the jersey in place are pull tabs at the front and a silicon gripper for the back
Elastic tabs provide adjustment at the waist. A silicone gripper and reinforced pocket construction keep the lower part of the jersey comfortably in place.
Two deep side pockets and a hidden zip pocket provide ample storage for most of your goods. The zipped pocket has an internal lining that prevents sweat ruining your phone or your keys scratching your back.
The middle pocket won't fit much more than a hand pump
A narrow pocket is continuous with the bright striped section at the rear. Rapha claim this is for your pump, which makes sense in terms of form, function and classic appeal. In the age of CO2 canisters we found this pocket a little redundant and tried to cram other things in there, such as long-shaped gels – only to have trouble pulling them out.
Curvier women may prefer a more relaxed fitting jersey, catered for by Rapha in other parts of their range. While this issue limits the appeal of the Souplesse jersey for some, it’s also nice to see a brand taking the needs of the fittest, trimmest – and often very small-sized – female cyclists seriously. Pairing the Souplesse Jersey up with the Rapha Women’s Classic bib shorts made us feel classy, fast and ready to tackle anything.
The light feel and breathability of this jersey make it a great option for long summery rides. At UK£130/ US$205/ AU$195 it's far from being a casual purchase, and the high price tag will most likely justified in terms of the athletic fit and the way it makes riders feel. We would have liked more room in the pockets for carrying food or extra layers on long and remote rides, but there is still ample storage for riders who prefer to travel with a little less bulk.