Generally speaking, entry-level waterproof jackets tend to be looser fitting. This allows you plenty of freedom of movement and room for layers, but also means spare fabric, which can drag in the wind and slow you down. This won’t be so much of a problem on urban commutes, but may be more of an issue if you’re into long road rides.
Female specific jackets will feature, predictably enough, feminine cuts. How generous they are in different areas of the anatomy (eg the bust) will vary between brands, and also depend on whether the jacket has a race/performance cut.
As you go up in price, you’ll tend to get more fit options, and jackets will be aimed at particular types of riding, for example road, MTB and commuting.
Road jackets tend to be cut on the more fitted side of the scale, often with sleeves that are cut so they fit to the shape of the arm while riding. The snug fit cuts down wind resistance, so you don’t have lots of fabric catching the breeze and slowing you down.
Mountain bike jackets, even the more fitted ones, will tend to be of a looser cut around the body and arms than road jackets. Mountain bikers move around a lot more on their bikes, so need room in the fabric to allow this.
You’ll also find that you start getting the aforementioned race or performance cut jackets as you head towards the top end of the scale within a companies range. These will be very fitted, high performance options, designed with racing in mind.
Most cycling jackets will also have a drop tail – a longer cut at the back, designed to cover your lower back and derriere while riding. Again, as a general rule this cut will be more pronounced on road cycling jackets, as road riders tend to be leant considerably further forward in the saddle.
Ideally, you want the sleeves to be long enough to cover the tops of your hands when riding, so if you are trying a jacket on in store, assume the position you’d be in while riding. Yes, it might look a bit silly, but it’s better than finding out later on that half your forearms are exposed when you’re riding on the low position on your road bike bars.