Over the past 15 years, Samantha Brown has left her footprint in countries from Greece to Cambodia. As the host of several shows on The Travel Channel, Brown never leaves home without a comfortable pair of shoes. “I always look for Mary Jane sneakers,” she said. “They’re easy to get on and off through TSA [screenings], but there’s also a bit of hipness and style to them. Plus, I can hike in them.”
While comfort is a priority for Brown, she always aims to dress appropriately for the country she’s exploring. “If you’re in a nice bistro in Europe, you’re not going to want to walk in [wearing] Reebok sneakers,” she said, noting that a stylist helps coordinate her travel wardrobe.
Another challenge with planning her travel wardrobe is the fact that every activity requires appropriate footwear. “For riding horses, I have equestrian boots — both polo and cowboy,” Brown said. “I have tall mukluks for dogsledding and ice camping in arctic conditions.”
Off camera, the travel guru, also a busy mom, opts for sophisticated casual looks such as Tieks ballet flats. “They’re leather, so they mold to the foot and have nice support,” she said. Other favorites include casual loafers and slip-on sneakers. Her closet also holds dressy heels by Sigerson Morrison and Christian Louboutin. “When it comes to shoes, I have a Barbie wardrobe,” Brown said.
In addition to her on-screen work, the TV host has a signature luggage collection available on home shopping channel HSN, and she’ll soon expand her role in the fashion world with a line of travel apparel launching for spring ’15; a companion shoe offering is also on the drawing board.
Here, the globe-trotter lists her shoe-packing rules for the road, reminisces about the pair that got away and shares her favorite footwear haunts.
Total pairs: 30-plus
Brands owned: Alice + Olivia, Asics, Bandolino, BCBG, Christian Louboutin, Coach, Ecco, Fratelli Rossetti, Harley Davidson, INC, Jessica Simpson, Kate Spade, Les Trois Garçons, Luciano Padovan, Michael Kors, Nine West, Sam Edelman, Saucony, Sigerson Morrison and Sperry Top-Sider, among others
Travel shoe advice: “My rule is pretty harsh — three to four pairs. With everyone trying to pack a small carry-on, shoes can take up very valuable space. I bring one set of heels in beige — they’re sexy and go with everything — a pair of running shoes, and a versatile flat or loafer in a [neutral] color. In the fall, I love boots, so I’ll wear them on the plane. I have a pair of purple patent leather flat boots by Ecco that I’ve gotten compliments on from France to China.”
Biggest requirements: “Tops is comfort, so I look for a leather shoe with at least a half-inch heel. I like to have a little lift and found that it also adds to the comfort. Beige is best when it comes to color since it lengthens the look of my legs and goes with everything.”
Memorable story from abroad: “We were in Florence shooting at the Ferragamo museum and flagship store with the Ferragamo family. As we walked around the store, I spied the most beautiful pair of T-strap heels in brown leather and tweed. They epitomized the classic beauty of Florence. I knew every time I wore them I would remember my wonderful trip. But the only chance I had to buy them was during filming. I didn’t want it to seem as if I [wanted] a free pair of shoes, so I walked away. They were sold in the U.S., but it just wasn’t the same.”
At-home favorites: “Light tan suede mules. I’m very happy that low heels are in fashion. They make me look so much more sophisticated than I am.”
Most comfortable pair: “Bright yellow Tieks leather ballet flats that fold up easily for travel. They have a solid heel that supports your feet and legs. Because they’re a soft leather, they don’t cause pain.”
Most uncomfortable pair: “Christian Louboutin heels for $1,350. They were bought for me for an event where I was to look absolutely incredible, which I did. They didn’t have my size 6, so I wore a 7 and stuffed them. Then when I was pregnant with twins, I was told my feet would spread and no longer fit into my size 6 shoes. My first thought was, ‘I’ll get to [wear] my Louboutins!’”
Biggest shoe mistake: “Big, clunky, red patent leather strappy heels. I thought they would look sexy with trouser pants, but whenever I put them on, they just look like clown shoes.”
Go-to shopping spot: “I live in Brooklyn, N.Y., where there are some nice shoe boutiques. My favorite is Eric with its selection of Italian and French shoes. I’ll walk by a few times getting groceries, and if a pair catches my eye, I’ll buy them — quick and easy.”
Purchasing plan: “I probably buy a pair of shoes each season and always buy a pair of boots for the fall. Boots are my weakness.”