I definitely hear you on the "matronly" aspect that a lot of patterns share at the average supply store. It can be hard to see anything but what they picture on the pattern, but I have a few hints that I use.
-Look at the black and white drawing, not the photo of the sewn garment...throwing in colors and patterns can be distracting.
-Try looking in the costume section. I use some costume wear for everyday wear.
-Places like Hancock Fabrics (my local Joann-esque store) may carry more than "Simplicity" or "McCalls" or your average everyday pattern company. Lauren mentioned "Burda", and I know that Hancock Fabrics carries that company. A lot of the patterns are for slightly younger people, and they have a young persons offshoot whose name I cannot recall right now. Now I have never bought one of their patterns, so I can't tell you how good they are, but it may be worth a shot. Also, maybe a Vogue pattern might work. Take some time and delve into the pattern books.
-Free interwebs tutorials are your friend. I have a couple of shorts drafting tuts in my bookmarks folder, so I know they're there. Use scrap fabric first if you don't want to ruin the good stuff trying out new things.
This turned out way longer than I thought. I hope I helped in some way. Since I don't know your skill level, I apologize if I may be running over stuff you already know. Just smile and nod. It gets me through a lot of conversations! :} (Good luck!)