my first 2 years of my 16 mile round trip winter commuting in Vermont, I used the following layers: wicKing t shirt ($15 at Target), an old bulky sweater I had laying around, a fleece vest, and a windbreaker. I pulled rain pants over jeans for my legs. Add a warm hat, gloves, and boots, and I was ready to rock the Vermont winter. Temps here varied from -25 F to maybe 30 F during the those winters. I was fine with my combo. I had a back pack where I would put clothes I didn't want to wear that ride and my office clothes for the day.
I have since received equipment made of technical fabrics,and they are pretty nice. I can't say that I am all that much warmer, but I have to wear much less bulk with the tehnicl stuff for the same warmth.