I'm in a club: what gear should I buy?

Ask. Your. Club. First.

It cannot be stressed how important this is; each club has their own culture, sparring norms, and gear requirements. Some clubs prefer slow play and research, others earnest sparring bordering on competition levels. 

Strangers on the internet don't have that context. All too often we see people purchase gear based on someone's opinion, only to find out their club doesn't allow that gear. As an example, I almost purchased a Leon Paul mask, until my instructor told me they wouldn't allow me to spar with it. They saved me from an expensive purchase.

This goes for everything from jackets to masks to weapons.

Don't be shy about asking your club mates to borrow their gear and try it out. Unless you have a lot of disposable income and are willing to risk trial and error (which is how MAW even came to exist, actually), you'll end up buying more gear that you hate than gear that you love.

HEMA isn't one size fits all, and asking your club for recommendations is about as close to a universal truth as we have. Save yourself the time, energy, and internet snark you'll receive by asking this question.