Jude Connally is dressing up Westfield’s Central Avenue. From the cheerful orange awning that first greets visitors to the bold, bright prints of the dresses inside, the clothing boutique is one of the newest businesses to set up shop downtown.
While the store threw open its cobalt-blue doors on Nov. 20, shoppers were treated to a grand opening celebration on Thursday, Dec. 6 that included refreshments, a look at the latest fashions, and a chance to meet the team, including the designer herself, Jude Connally Zimmerman.
Sales manager Megan Phillips said opening the shop has been a “fun and exciting time.”
“It really exploded this morning,” said Phillips on the day of the grand opening. “It’s very exciting for Jude.”
Adding to the festive atmosphere were dozens of pastel and primary-colored helium balloons, with a prize tucked inside for each guest.
“The whole concept—pop a balloon, win a prize—shows Jude’s personality,” Phillips said. “Everyone’s a winner.”
In addition to the ready-to-wear dresses that don’t require dry cleaning, the shop also features earrings, bracelets, wraps and colorful coin purses.
Connally Zimmerman, a Cranford resident, maintains her business headquarters in Kenilworth, with the entire clothing line manufactured in Manhattan’s garment district.
“That’s something we feel really proud about, keeping the manufacturing in the United States,” said Jude Connally General Manager Michelle Ruggiero.
Ruggiero added that the Westfield community has warmly embraced the brand. Though the clothing line can be found in boutiques around the country, Ruggiero said there is something special about "having our flagship store in our backyard and interacting with women wearing our clothing first hand."
“We’re really excited about the warm welcome we’ve received from the Westfield community,” she said.
The Jude Connally team looks forward to providing personal service that is helpful yet not overbearing as shoppers take in the dress collection, which features styles named for special women in the designer’s life.
“There are dresses for every silhouette,” Ruggiero said. “Jude looks at real women and figures out what will look good on them and goes from there. Jude wants to help women look good and feel great. It’s perfect year-round. You just put it on and go; that’s the beauty of it. It moves with you and it feels good.”
While much of the clothing in the boutique is for the current season, resort wear is also available and makes a great gift for women planning mid-winter vacations, Ruggiero noted.
Shoppers can sign a guest book to receive notifications of upcoming Jude Connally events.