The 17th century corset shared many similarities with its predecessor from the previous century, but while the origins of the corset probably lie in the mid-1500s, its iconic features truly emerge as its popularity is spread by the royal courts of Europe.
By the middle of the century, almost all women wore corsets, or at least jumps.
The high back of the corset was a convenient location to attach a ruff, although ruffs fell out of favor around 1615.
Fashonable necklines alternated between high (accessorized by lace collars) or very low, and in the latter case, the corset helped to push up the bust and emphasize the décolletage. In profile, the breasts were flattened to maintain the flat-frontted silhouette.
Amid the slashed sleeves, split skirts, exposed petticoats, and open gown fashions, the exposed stomacher also became popular. This decorative triangular insert began as the front of the corset, with the lacings holding the gown exposed, but soon could be removable or even attached on top of the corset, and the lacings eventually became decorative patterns or bows. The stomacher emphasized the size difference between the waist and the shoulders, as well as the elongated waist that was also fashionable in the earlier decades.
Sleeves were sometimes attached. These or straps were often set off-the-shoulder or in a portrait or trapezoidal neckline that followed the off-the-shoulder fashions in the second half of the century.