When I very first started, I did not want to wear rentals so I ordered a pair of $50 skates off Amazon and used them for about two months. I did not know anything about sizing figure skates, and I just figured that I was only going to use these to skate with my husband once every couple of months for fun, and I would just order my regular shoe size. They were a shade big, but I wore two pairs of thicker socks with them and they fit ok. If you go this route be sure you have them sharpened, they to not come sharpened, and read the reviews to see if they run small or whatever.
What I did not know when I ordered them was that I would get totally hooked on skating and we would almost immediately start skating 3-4 times a week. In my cheapo skates I learned front and back swizzles, basic stroking, stopping, backwards wiggle skating, side pumps, most of the basic pre alpha stuff.
So, I fairly quickly began to understand that really nice skates are expensive. Typically, the higher level and more expensive, the stiffer (more supportive) they are. They usually have to be broken in, and are supposed to fit well enough that once broken in you can use very thin socks, tights or even go barefoot... they should fit like second skin. When you get better quality skates they should be at or a little above your level, and that if you are a heavier person you may need higher level skates to support your weight and keep them from breaking down prematurely. Also, really higher level skate boots come without a blade, you have to select it. Finally, they are not cheap. I think the estimate given of $350 was not bad, they have the Jackson Elle at our pro shop with blade for around $250. I think that is a great beginner skate.
I assumed that I might spend months on my cheap skates, I did not think nice skates were an option for me financially right then, and being a heavier skater, I was mystified as to what to get. I did not even look into getting skates just kind of decided to wait. And the fate intervened. I was scrolling through ebay about a month and a half into skating and saw the most lovely skates, they actually caught my eye. They had blades, the price $110.
So my research began. The seller had given a ton of info and pics. I went to Kenzie's closet, a very valuable information site for figure skating equipment. I was able to measure my foot length and width, and check the Reidell sizing chart for width and length, and discovered that a 9.5A in Reidell should fit me. I researched the type of skate, they were upper level but older model, so equivalent to something that one could do single jumps on easily, again, sounded ok for a larger skater to break in. The blades I also researched, a basic MK beginner blade, brand new and probably placed for economics of selling the skate. They had never been worn before, the blades or skates. Knowing all this, and that new, this similar set up would cost me $500-600, I decided to take the risk.
When they first arrived I made the mistake of trying to put them on with my previous skate socks, just one pair, but owie!! I was convinced they were too small. Then I tried them on with a pair of nylons. Better, much, but still tight. My big toe could wiggle, but the sides felt so snug! After some more research I got a pair of trouser socks. I wore my skates every day at home for 30 minutes at first with gaurds on working up to an hour. On the days I skated I started at about 10 minutes twice with a rest in between, working up to about 45 minutrs non stop after about 2-4 weeks. I would say they were broken in pretty good after about 10 skates along with wearing them at home. Breaking them in they just felt tight on the sides and stiff in the ankle. After breaking them in they now feel like they are an extension of my foot. They have never given me a blister, caused numbness, significant pain or anything like that. I do wear bunga pads on my ankles because they seem to fit better that way, there was less creasing on the boot when I flexed with the Bungas on, my boots are too old to have a flex notch.
So, if I had not come upon my magical boots, which, I am closing in on a year wearing, I am not sure what my course of action would have been. We have ended up having to order custom boots for my husband because of his super wide feet, but he struggled a year in skates that never fit right. Custom boots are expensive and we wanted to make sure it was something we were going to stick with. His skate skate story this year is even longer than mine, but that has been my experience in the skating world with getting skates so. I did decide to switch to dance blades while my soles were still in decent shape and could hold another blade, because dance with my husband is my ultimate goal. He was getting the same blades, basically a beginner's dance blade with his custom boots. I have four skates on them now, really enjoying them, I figure by the time I am ready for a more advanced blade my boots will probably also be ready to be replaced, and if not I can put these blades on new boots.