Beginner ski equipment
Rule number 1 for your first ski trip is to borrow or rent as much as possible.
Beginner skis for men, women & children: One of the classic mistakes to make when buying or (more sensibly) renting your first set of skis is to imagine that more advanced/expensive ones will make you better at it. The truth is usually quite the reverse for learners and early intermediates. When choosing between beginner skis vs. intermediate skis you should really pick which of these labels best describe your ability. Beginner skis may not carve with the pinpoint accuracy that an advanced skier would like, but they are much more forgiving of a novice ski technique, so you're less likely to keep catching an edge etc and so will fall over less. Choosing advanced skis on your first ski trip will make learning harder and less fun, so go with the right equipment for your current level, rather than the level that you aspire to.
Beginner ski clothing: There are companies who will rent ski clothing to you and that can save a lot of money, but you don't necessarily have to have a checklist of expensive Goretex and micro-fleece to enjoy yourself. If you know people who ski and they're not away when you are, ask if you can borrow ski clothing, because it's something they have sitting doing nothing for 50 weeks of the year. And use your own sports clothes if you have it, rather than buying new mid and base layers. The bottom and middle layers can often be achieved with what you have, providing you take several for layering, but pay particular attention to the top waterproof layer on your body and your legs. While the old ski onesie might be having a comeback, it's a fashion faux pass with only limited “ironic” lifespan and to be avoided, but you do need an outer layer that can keep the wet and wind from coming in, while allowing the steamy air and perspiration inside to get out.
Beginner ski boots: Even if someone is a similar size to you, don't borrow their skis or boots! Most resorts have several ski rental stores where a specialist will match you with skis and boots carefully selected to suit you, taking into account your weight, shoe size and ability. If you're not sure of your height or weight, it's a good idea to jot these down before your holiday to make things easier in the shop but don't panic if it's too late – they can measure you there.
Boots are possibly the most important thing to get right – if they're too big, your feet will slide and you won't have control and boots that are too small are seriously uncomfortable too. You want to be able to wiggle your toes but have your heel held firmly in the back of the boot. Boots should be done up tightly (but don't tighten them so much that you restrict blood flow!). If your boots aren't comfortable, don't hesitate to talk to the staff and keep trying ones on until you're happy. Salopettes or ski trousers go outside the boot rather than being tucked in (keeping you warmer and dryer) and some even have a clip that can hold them onto the boot.
Don't panic when walking in your ski boots seems weird, you'll notice that everyone walks a bit strangely around the ski resort! Some boots have a ‘walk mode' which can make wandering around the resort a bit more comfortable (just don't forget to put them back into ski mode after).