Shutt have managed to make lycra beautiful with their women's Isobel jersey.
Generally I avoid wearing lycra as it clings to all the wrong bits and cycling sizing is a law unto itself. Shutt have taken the, er, bar by the handles, and have launched their new Isobel jersey in sizing from XS to XXL - equivalent to a size 16/18.
If, like me you are more than a size 14 or taller than 5ft 7in getting well fitting gear can be all but impossible. Testing the largest end of the scale I found that the jersey skimmed rather than stuck due to a combination of the silky soft material and the excellent cut. If you are skinny that's fine too, as the Isobel sizes down to a 26-inch waist if you so desire.
I was genuinely shocked at how happy I was to wear this jersey out in public, as lycra is generally not very forgiving to the curvy woman. With the Isobel, however, I did not need to be constantly sucking bits of me in, or pulling the fabric down as the cut was very flattering to my natural shape, both on and off the bike. Even my boyfriend was happy cycling behind me whilst I wore the Isobel, which is praise indeed.
How have Shutt managed to come up with a lycra jersey that is both attractive and and a joy to wear? Having a female designer, Lucy Gardner, and employing women of varying shapes and sizes who all enjoy cycling certainly seems to have helped. Lucy has managed to design a technical jersey that genuinely suits women who are happy with the size they are.
This is Shutt's first foray into XXL for women's clothing and it's a total winner. The fit is genuinely feminine and the XXL is a realistic size 16/18. The fit is nice and long for bum covering purposes, so should fit taller women well too. For a race fit I suggest sizing down as it is the only generous premium cyclewear manufacturer I've found.
Naming it after the managing director's wife shows just how pleased Shutt are with their new Isobel jersey, and it's not hard to see why. The fabric is delightful, both in the feel - silky smooth and a world away from cheaper lycras, and the colourway - a subtle heather with polka dots in Shutt's signature colours. Even my 9 year old 'got' the reference to Queen of the Mountain in the dots ('but you're not one because they're not red, mummy').
This jersey excels in the looks department, but it isn't let down at all when it comes to the specification. It has everything I would expect in a quality garment with a huge attention to detail.
There are three back pockets, and the middle one has an additional outer zipped pocket big enough to take an iPhone. My phone was kept much dryer than usual due to the water-resistant membrane backing this additional pocket and only got slightly moist instead of unfeasibly wet while out riding. The ring pull on the zipper is large enough to hook while on the move, and the other three pockets are open access for less important items.
The reflective details are subtle but effective, and include the hemline, around the pocket tops and the full length of the front zip, with an additional strip along the middle zipped pocket right where a car headlights are most likely to catch you from behind.
Despite trialling this jersey in sunny Brittany (and rather less sunny Britain), I never felt too sweaty in this top, partly due to the long mesh strips under the arms and partly due to the general wicking qualities of the fabric.
Both the top and bottom of the front zip have zip hoods, and the handle of the zip is even colour matched to the jersey itself, for a really smart finish.
It's those little touches, alongside the excellent cut and material which justify the £79 price tag. This has been my go to top all summer as it is just so comfortable to wear, and has kept its shape despite my tendency to wash at 40 degrees rather than the prescribed 30.
Flattering technical jersey available up to size 18 - definitely on my Christmas list
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Make and model: Shutt VR Isobel jersey
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Designed by our award winning, in-house designer Lucy Gardner the Isobel is named after a woman close to Shutt's heart, who inspired us to create something a bit more feminine, that stayed true to our classic styling.
The jersey is constructed from the finest Italian fabrics for an unsurpassed fit while protecting the wearer from extremes of temperature offering superior insulation and breathability – keeping the rider dry and at optimum temperature.
At Shutt we don't believe Women should make any concessions with their cycle clothing so our range is no compromise offering. We bring all new features including a full-length reflective zip, mesh side panels, reinforced pocket design, a zipped fourth pocket for valuables and a reflective hem trim providing extra security and visibility.
The fit will flatter all body sizes, creating a stylish look whether out for a casual Sunday club run or powering up the French Col du Galibier pass.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
✭Women's Specific Cut
✭Soft touch Italian Lycra
✭Mesh panels for enhanced breathability
✭Three rear cargo pockets with additional 4th lined zipped valuables pocket
✭Full Length reflective Zip
✭360° silicone gripper & reflective piping on the bottom hem
Great attention to detail. Construction could have been a tiny bit neater i.e. on the line of the hem, and a couple of threads starting to show after washes but nothing of consequence.
It did everything a technical jersey should and was very attractive too.
No bobbling even after a summer of washing and wearing.
Average to light for summer wear.
Nothing about this jersey was uncomfortable. And I'm very fussy.
£79 - designed in the UK but made in China - the manufacturers say that it would have been prohibitively expensive to manufacture here.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The overall design, colour and fit.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A fabulous jersey in a size which truly fits me - Christmas has come early.
Age: 36 Height: 5'7 Weight: size 16
I usually ride: Trek 7.5 WSD My best bike is: Turquoise Cruiser
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, Leisure