The first thing you noticed about the brunch "In Celebration of Women" Saturday was that the Shoreham ballroom smelled like the perfume counter at Bloomingdale's. Estee Lauder was quite popular, not to mention Oscar de la Renta and Avon.

"I'm never happy when I have to take off my Levi's and boots," said Rep. Lynn Martin (R-Ill.), leaning on a bar in the lobby. "Isn't it awful?"

About 500 women paid $35 to eat fruit cup and quiche and hear U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick deliver one of her now-staple speeches on the paucity of women in government. The principals of the brunch -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler, Reagan friend Nancy Reynolds and Kirkpatrick -- were cordoned off in a holding room, away from the press. And the guests. "They're not taking any questions," an aide announced.

When O'Connor arrived, the photographers were allowed in for the "photo opportunity," just in time to hear her say to one of her hostesses, Republican National Committee cochairman, Betty Heitman: "I'm not going to much this weekend, but the first thing I'm going to do today is go out and buy a pair of warm shoes. Or something." -- Lois Romano A Thousand Words' Worth

The guests standing before the portrait of former Senate majority leader Howard Baker took one of these two positions: their backs to the portrait, their faces smiling toward the cameras, or their faces to the portrait, their backs hunched in worried study.

"I don't know if it's any comfort," one guest told Baker, after analyzing the painting, "but it doesn't look anything like you."

Just about every one of the 100 people who came to Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole's party for her husband Robert, the Senate majority leader, Baker and former Republican minority leader Hugh Scott passed judgment on the portrait hanging in Robert Dole's new office. They said tactful things about the picture and then moved on to make little roast beef sandwiches and talk with Sens. John Chafee (R-R.I.), Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), Mack Mattingly (R-Ga.) and all the nice, off-duty press people, like CBS' Fred Graham and ABC's Bettina Gregory.

"I'm so pleased and happy with myself, I can hardly stand it," Baker told an appreciative cluster. "Now, when I stay late, I realize there's a real compensation -- I can charge them for it."