Over the years, I have developed the following clothing protocol.
First layer: light silk, not polypropylene, not any other kind of synthetic. I like silk.
Second layer: polypropylene underwear or one of the newer synthetics designed for cold weather in a weight appropriate for the outside ambient temperature. I suggest you google or check wikipedia for ECWS Extended Cold Weather Clothing System designed by the US military to get the 4-1-1 on base layers.
Third layer (upper body): your favorite shirt/fleece (as long as it is not 100% cotton).
Forth layer (third layer, lower body): high tech outerwear of any name brand, the best being Gore-tex lined (or similar) Preferably you have side zipper/vents on the powder pants and armpit zippers/vents on the parka.
The thing about Alpine conditions in California is the very wide thermal range of the ambient temperature as night turns into day. This range demands layering. Normally what I do when I expect to encounter a wide temperature differential is to wear two sets of sheer silk thermal underwear and one set of medium polypro. Then as temperature go up with the rising sun on a bluebird day, I can remove one silk layers and go “one silky” and one polypro, or no polypro and “two silkies”. Because the layers I manipulate are usually silk, should I remove a layer, it balls up into a feather weight little ball which is easy to carry. In any event, I primarily manipulate the silk / polypro combos to adjust for temperature changes.
The thing about silk is that in addition to its thermal properties which work perfectly in a winter environment, it has a sort of a dry lubricating function between the skin and other clothing that eliminates bunching. It creates sort of a “naked feeling” under the clothing that for me really does translate in better riding/skiing skills because it is easier to sense slight kinesthetic changes, such sensations not “masked over” by the tactile sensation of clingy base layers.
I have no interest in Sierra Trading Post, but damn, that is the place to get ski clothing and if you shop them carefully, you can get the silk stuff at more than ½ off typical retail.
That’s how I do it ! See you on the slopes! ~