Lillian Svuksts stood in front of the triple mirrors, turning from side to side, glancing now to the right, now to the left, now over her shoulder at the reflection of the off-white, natural emba azurine mink full-length coat.

The $ 4,995 off-white natural emba azurine mink full-length coat.

As she respectfully caressed the fur, and smiled the smile that only a mink can bring, a bright yellow tag fluttered from one cuff: SALE -- $ 2,988.

Yesterday was Washington's Birthday. And while for some persons that means trading in a roller skate on a car, at Rosendorf -- Evans in Washington it means mink. Cheap. If you think $ 2,988 is cheap.

"My sister got a beautiful buy and looks like a million bucks," said Mrs. Svuksts, of Fairfax, barely taking her eyes off the reflection. "This is my first mink and at my age I'm entitled to it.

"It takes maturity to accept a foolish act," she said, as furrier George Sarvinas hovered solicitously nearby.

As Sarvinas cooed softly to Mrs. Svuksts, taking a tuck here and a tuck there, Lois McGregor lovingly stroked a full-length dyed wheat mink with dyed fox trim. Only $ 3,688. Marked down from a cool $ 5,000.

"I think I'm a little late (in the day)," the Washington woman told a reporter. "They seem to be running a little more than I want to spend."

A few minutes later she too, like Mrs. Svuksts, stood before a set of mirrors in what can only be described as a beautiful natural emba azurine full-length mink But she looked more sad than serene.

As she inspected the coat her husband, who was sitting watching her try on the coat, reached for the fluttering yellow tag: $ 3,988. On sale. "Our last car cost as much," he said quietly. The coat was hung up.

Yvonne Brown said she came all the way from Bloomfield, Conn., for the Rosendorf-Evans Washington's Birthday sale.

The public school teacher, who said she was combining the mink hunt with a visit with her parents who live here, purchased a full-length natural lunarine mink, a $ 3,995 coat marked down to $ 2,688.

"I waited seven years and I decided it's my time to get it,' she said. "It's been cold, and it's a gift from me to me."

Thelma Hill, Mrs. Brown's mother, beamed as her daughter showed off the coat. "It's the Cadillac of coats," she reminded a reporter. "It's the prestige coat."

Irma Pernell was another Washington Woman taking advantage of the fur sale, but she passed up the minks, and the $ 15,000 sale, in faovr of a snow-dyed rabbit and leather jacket.

"I told my husband I was going to look, I said I'm just going to look," she said. "I've charged it so he won't know about it until the bill comes." At least the bill will be under $ 200. And Mrs. Pernell looked almost as pleased with her rabbit as Mrs. Svuksts did with her mink.

For most shoppers, however, yesterday was a day to indulge more mundane, less expensive, desires, tastes and needs. A new television set. A pair of spring shoes. A replacement carpet.

Susan Finlay, of Northwest Washington, took advantage of the day off to purchase a new stereo system. "I've been planning on getting a new stereo for two or three months," she said, preparing to pay for her $ 477 system in Myer-Emco's Connecticut Avenue store.

She said she was drawn to the store by its reputation, rather than by a promise of sale prices -- which she didn't get. "I got my taxes back two or three days ago," she said, "so I could spend my tax money on my new stereo."

For the less bargain-oriented, yesterday was a day to watch wreath laying at the Washington Monument, hear Sen. S. I. Hayakawa (R-Calif.) --introduced to the Senate by Sen. Lee Metcalf (D-Mont.) as the "senator from Hawaii" -- read Washington's Farewell Address, or watch the traditional Washington Birthday parade in Alexandria.

Although the parade through Washington's hometown went almost as smoothly as usual, there was a bit of a pause when the City of Alexandria's bagpipes and drum corps did an abrupt about face and almost marched into the Gadsby's Tavern costumed contingent. The Gadsby group and the crowd laughed together as the tavern marchers quickly went into reverse.

"I think it's wonderful how young and old and all races can participate together," said Marianne Hoekstra, who was visiting from Racine, Wis. "I'm not from this area so I'm always anxious to see historical stuff like this."

(Washington Post staff writers Jane Seaberry and Warren Brown contributed to this story.)