Stainless steel options are your best bet.
low end: Tramontina tri-ply is great value mid end: calphalon stainless steel or commercial hard anodized (no coating), cuisinart tri-ply, sitram, paderno high end: all-clad, mauviel, demeyere. For the Tramontina, the difference in performance between it and All-Clad is not that wide, considering the almost 3x difference in price. The Cuisinart Multiclad Pro is basically China-made All-Clad tri-ply at a third of the price.
If you really want "Buy it for life," you should go with All-Clad. They're made in the USA using the highest quality materials. They heat much more evenly than other pans, they're much more balanced, and they last indefinitely, even with abuse.
I used just okay pans for years: Calphalon, Circular, Farberware, etc. I switched to All-Clad when a chef friend showed me his set that he bought 20 years ago and used every day -- heavily. Good as new.
All-Clad is great, and the Cuisinart Chef's Classic line is a great performance line for the price. It's aluminum core instead of copper, but if you know what you're doing copper or aluminum are equally sufficient. One may be better, but either is great.
Stainless is the way to go, but take the time to learn how to use it properly or it will cause you no end of frustrations. Pre-heat EMPTY, and cook food at a medium heat with oil of your choice. Too hot and you'll hate yourself. Bar-keepers Friend is your friend.
I really like All-Clad copper core. Very even heating which not only means less stirring and more consistent results, they are also easier to clean because there won't be burnt stuff unless you really screw up. They work great both with both electric and gas. They do not work at all with induction heating. Their other major shortcoming is that they are ridiculously expensive so I only have saucepan and one skillet; all my other pots & pans are less expensive All-Clad or Cuisinart.