Thats an interesting question, Joan. As you no doubt already noticed, its easy to get enormously confused by all the choices. So it pays to not rush into things.
On the other hand, you also want to be comfortable and feel like you "belong." So I guess I say, shop around and find some good buys, then after youve skied a year or so and figured out what works, consider some upgrades.
And I must say Im not sure who is giving you advice. Hat, gloves, pants? Thats it? Sure, you can drag a few things out of your closet, but will it work?
So do this: Get the pants, gloves, hat. But also buy a jacket and whatever else you need. Heres my short list ():
you also can read my recent blog post Jacket: Years ago, when I first started downhill skiing, I bought a jacket from a still-small Oregon company called Columbia Sportswear. It worked well for years. Columbia Sportswear is a big outfit now, but they still make stuff that really is good value. The Whirlibird Jacket ($180) is a great buy because it combines a good outer shell with a removable polyester-fill insulating liner. The liner can be zipped out; wear both the liner and the jacket on cold days, then pick what works best for spring skiing.
Pants: The Fly Insulated Pants ($139) from Burton would complement the Whirlibird nicely. Personally, I prefer layering to a single insulated piece, so Id also suggest a pair of REIs Midweight MTS Bottoms ($30) along with a pair of REI Taku Pants ($159). You can always wear heavier or lighter long underwear depending on conditions. And Id get the matching MTS top for a base layer.
Gloves: Millions of gloves out there. Spend $40 to $50 on a pair that fit well, are waterproof, and offer good insulation. Black Diamonds Womens Element ($40) is a good starting point.
Hat or helmet? Lot of people wear helmets these days. Theyre warm, comfortable, and protective. Giros G9 is a good buy at $99. In a traditional ski hat, the Turtle Fur Lady Fairisle ($42) is a good choice.
I knowit DOES add up. But this gets you off on a good start without completely breaking the bank. Have fun!