Employing a simple and direct geometric approach, we prove formulas for a large class of degeneracy loci in types B, C, and D, including those coming from all isotropic Grassmannians. The results unify and generalize previous Pfaffian and determinantal formulas. Specializing to the Grassmannian case, we recover the remarkable theta- and eta-polynomials of Buch, Kresch, Tamvakis, and Wilson. Our method yields streamlined proofs which proceed in parallel for all four classical types, substantially simplifying previous work on the subject. In an appendix, we develop some foundational algebra and prove several Pfaffian identities. Another appendix establishes a basic formula for classes in quadric bundles.