The best recommendation I can give you is to take scraps of the kind of material you’d like to learn to work with, and try them out on a number of different machines at a number of different dealers. Take your time and look at the features and controls of various models. Some people like the ease and familiarity of electronic controls; others (like me) mutter “one more thing to break” and want buttons or dials that move with nice, reassuring CLICKs, dangit. Some people just want to do maybe three to five basic stitches; others already have plans for an embroidery machine. Get a machine that feels comfortable to you. Don’t pay for a lot of features you can’t picture yourself using.
I have a Pfaff (named Pfredd) which I bought used. Pfredd is a solid, non-electronic model with all the features I wanted but no embroidery capability. According to the clerk at the Pfaff shop, Pfredd was traded in after about six months by a woman who suddenly found herself with a baby granddaughter and an urge to start embroidering everything in sight So she traded in Pfredd towards an embroidery machine, and I got a cleaned-up, gently used Pfaff for a good price.
Oh, and definitely start with a skirt. A straight, pull-on skirt with an elastic waist has got to be the simplest garment known to woman, with simple shorts a close second. Tanks and shells are more difficult than they appear - a good choice for a second or third project, maybe, when you’ve gotten used to the machine and have a bit of confidence. Many companies have learn-to-sew patterns, with few pieces and detailed instructions; my favorites are KwikSew patterns, which I find to be very logical in spite of the Kreatiff Spelling thing.