I was always under the impression that - practicality notwithstanding - a shirt without a pocket was more formal. You never see a pleated tuxedo shirt with one, after all. As you go up the ladder of formality, everything has less extraneous detail. As far as dressiness goes, "back in the day", most office-working stiffs would be wearing a jacket, and a vest, and so a dress shirt pocket would be superfluous. If you were doing some more manual work, you wouldn't have either, and so you'd need the pocket. I think, for everyday use, a pocket is a pretty good feature to have. For my better dress shirts, with which I'd be wearing a 2-or-3- piece suit, however, I won't cry if the pocket happens to be absent. Cheers, Nick.