Have you ever noticed that many experienced skiers are not wearing padded jackets and pants, but lightweight shells? Layering has many benefits, including how light and compact it is to pack when traveling on a snow adventure.
First a three layer shell jacket and pant is needed. Some people do wear padded pants though. Three layer refers to the outer fabric, laminated to a waterproof membrane, laminated to an inner fabric which has a nice touch finish. Peak performance, J Lindeberg, and Mountain Force, make great shells.The reason shells are expensive is not only the expensive fabric, should be Goretex, or Dermizax, but the work involved in finishing the inside. Pockets, powder skirt, etc all have to be welded neatly onto the inner layer, rather than simply putting a liner fabric inside that hides the inner construction of the pant or jacket. Shell pants have heaps of work inside them also.
What to wear underneath obviously depends on the expected temperature, how active a day, and whether people feel the cold badly or not.Trial and error here will sort the problem. On top I suggest starting with Merino layer or layers. I start with a merino singlet, because the most important area to keep warm is the torso.Then a long sleeve merino top, preferably with a higher neck. I do find keeping my neck warm is important. Next a Fleece, or thicker wool layer.This would probably do most hot blooded males, but most girls will need to keep going. Alternatively, leave the fleece off and wear a down, or primaloft liner jacket, which is very warm and lightweight,or if it is very cold wear the whole lot. A light down or primaloft vest is also really handy. Primaloft by the way is a lightweight, super warm insulation that also repels water so does not get wet.This is an advantage over down which stops insulating if it gets wet, either from snow or precipitation, or sweat.
All these options can be worn in different configurations.A backpack is a great accessory to carry lightweight extra layers which may be needed if the temperature drops as the day develops.
With the bottom half thermal compression skins are good, but merino is hard to beat. Once again if it is very cold wear two pairs, and the other great thing I do is wear those neoprene knee protectors that you see in the pharmacy. Your knees are the area on the leg that gets cold, as they are bent on a chairlift.These keep your knee joints warm, which stops them doing the warm cold thing as you ski, then sit on a lift.They also give support to the knee.They cover the leg from the sock to halfway up the thigh, so there is really not much leg left.They really do work a treat.
Layering is not for everyone, but more and more people are realising just how well it works. Give it a go!